Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why we are going to the Conventions

Here at CODEPINK we're getting ready to bring our Peace Platform to the Democrat and Republican National Conventions.

Click here to find out why we think it's important to make the trek to Denver and the Twin Cities.

Check out our plans at

Why I'm going to the conventions...
By Rae Abileah

Part I: DNC ~ Live it!
I will travel on the train to Denver from San Francisco with a group of CODEPINK activists because I am tired of waiting for politicians to change, and ready to amp up my modeling of the world I want to live. That modeling includes taking the "Peace Train" and talking with the passengers and singing all the way around the mountains, riding in a pink bicycle brigade through the streets in Denver, visiting a free healthcare clinic, and issuing CODEPINK security alerts to renew public trust and confidence. Out of emails and phone calls and webpages will arise a flock of women (many of whom I get to work with from afar), a force for peace, that will make history. The world's media will be landing in Denver to cover the "who will be the next president of the superpower" story, and we tell them the "who are the electorate" story about peace voters. I am committed to training and building capacity in (primarily female) organizers, building a skilled movement. I still believe that it is the people that must lead the US out of war, that must refuse to fight, that must call for campaign finance reform, that must engage in civic duty to create a democracy. And in these dark times, my civic duty includes out-of-the-box creative actions that shed a little light in the tunnel to guide us out.

Part II: BRC ~ Love it!
I will fly to Black Rock City, home of the Burning Man festival, in the weekend between the conventions because it is my annual ritual to return to my desert-dwelling community of eccentric artists, who this year chose "The American Dream" as the theme of the event. Last year at BRC activists in pink slips served up peach mint martinis and peach cobbler while chatting up im-peach-mint. This year some of us will be handing out copies of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and weaving dreamcatchers, not only to drive out the nightmare of the bush regime, but also to call awareness to the ongoing US occupation of indigenous lands. I will go to BRC to release, at the temple there, these past eight years of ill-governance: I know the time is approaching to put the Bush years to death, and I want to be ready to rise from the ashes of this broken government. I go to BRC to reignite my spirit and passion for artivism, to keep living a succulent joyous life, to find the Phoenix inside me.

Part III: RNC ~ Reclaim it!
I got swept into the pink whirlwind of CODEPINK activism at the RNC in NYC 2004, which was the summer after my college graduation in Manhattan. I found a ride home from the protest to California on Craigslist with a CODEPINK activist, Zanne, and her moving truck. Who knew a rideshare would lead to my first job out of college and my future traveling, ruckus-raising lifestyle?! Zanne and I spent two weeks on the road in the South registering voters and talking with women about pinkslippin' Bush. We chose tiny towns with fun names like War, West Virginia and Truth or Consequences, Texas. We spoke out. Four years later, things are worse now then they were then. How could I not return to the scene of the crime, the gathering of the war hawks?

Someone once sang, "Bush stole the best years of my twenties," and I think that's true for most of my peers (certainly those of us hit hard by the economy, or in youth prisons, or overseas fighting to keep our buddies alive, or just trying to get by in poor schools or without college funding)... not to mention the innocent lives of over a million Iraqis, thousands of soldiers and contractors, and people all over the world who have been impacted by US foreign policy (I mean, imagine what we could do with all those billions, no, trillions, of dollars if we weren't spending it all on violence and weaponry ~ sustainable solutions for world hunger, poverty, debt relief, environmental degradation, clean energy, education, healthcare, bicycles for everyone, subsidies for organic produce... the list goes on and on.) The Republican party's politics of domination and consolidated executive power have become not only an embarrassment to the world, but a slow demise of our Constitution. While some of my leftist sisters may believe that this party is rotten to the core, I think there are republican values that are integral to our American culture, the values that my stepdad espoused when he became a Republican after fighting in the Vietnam war, like fiscal conservatism (hello 3 trillion dollar war--NOT in line with this value!), state and local rights (PA Attorney General Tom Corbet recently said to townspeople protesting toxic sludge killing kids in their own back yards, "There is no inalienable right to local self-government." Say what?!), and a focus on family, faith, and neighborhood organizing based on values. This time around, I am going to the RNC not only to protest and agitate, but also to reclaim these ideals. I'm going to the RNC with all the messages of the bills that have been passed over the past nightmare of a presidency, with a simple request--action, not doublespeak. I want: Clean Energy, Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind, Women's Liberation, an end to Terrorism, and the announcement of a true CODEPINK Alert!

Part IV: The Race
I will continue traveling onward after the RNC because just like in 2004 there are a lot of conversations to be had with Americans about what issues are important to them and how each of us can do something to make our lives, our country, and our world a safer, healthier, more sparkling, heart-centered and joyous place. Being on the road with activists, singers, artists gives me hope that a world free of war is truly possible. While the nation turns to candidates, I will be turning to candid conversation and practical action. Getting out the vote means having something to vote for (and one day maybe not having to hold our noses while we check those boxes in the booth) and also creating community.

Part V: The Finish Line?
After the election when, like the silence that follows Christmas morning after all the presents have been sufficiently ravaged, the political fervor dies down and people forget about platforms and promises, when the election is "so last season" and the latest sitcom or new iPhone is consuming our attention, CODEPINK will still be taking creative action for peace because the war will still not be over. I'll be at the inauguration with my PINK sisters, mostly because that's what my mom taught me growing up, when she kept me home from school to watch the inauguration live broadcast on TV and said something like, "When you grow up you must do something to make the world a more beautiful place." Only now bearing witness means I have to act too, and engage in the stuff that is sometimes too scary to seem real, and be committed to changing it.

1 comment:

mauims said...

I'm an old lady and I became an activist when, at the age of FIVE, I was riding in the family car at night, thinking of nothing in particular, and it suddenly hit me-- I couldn't be truly happy because children in Korea were being bombed by MY army!

I've lived outside the US for twenty years. I said I'd never come back until CEDAW was passed (famous last words), so, when I moved to Maui in '00, I seized my chance to make a difference by becoming active in the Democratic party and our local PAC (the Ohana Coalition) and writing many, many letters to our local paper.

When I found CODE PINK on line, I knew immediately it was for me and started our local chapter, which has host(ess)ed Medea, Cindy and Jodie and had our fotos on the front page three times.

First, I thought I'd go to Denver as a delegate, but, in order to run, I would've had to back a candidate and Kucinich was no longer in the race. So, I raised the $ (thanx to sixteen supporters nation-wide) for the ticket and got hospitality from a friend because our Constitution is not just a piece of paper!

Please come, too, and when you see a loud, pink Ms. Piggy stopping traffic, that'll be moi.

Maui local diva