Working towards peace and sustainability

Resistance to Trump's Retrograde Agenda

We at Peaceworks, like progressives around the country, are still in the process of exploring how we can most effectively oppose and stop those aspects Donald Trump’s program that fly in the face of our efforts to create a more peaceful, just, prosperous and sustainable future. We are particularly concerned about his stated intentions to accelerate investment in fossil fuel infrastructure while abandoning efforts to address the Climate Crisis, engage in a major military buildup, appoint reactionary justices and judges to our courts, and take actions that threaten communities under siege, including Muslims, undocumented persons and their families, people of color, LGBT people and women.

We also are deeply disturbed by those he has appointed to top level positions in his administration. While many positions are yet to be filled, to date he has appointed a cast of far right ideologues, bankers, billionaires and privatizers. This does not bode well for healthcare, including Medicare and Medicaid and those helped by the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and public education.

In order to effectively respond to the crisis Trump’s presidency presents, Peaceworks has begun a process of reaching out to approximately three dozen other progressive groups to see how we can collaborate and coordinate our responses. We held an initial meeting this week and will be continuing this process in the weeks ahead. Some things we can share at the moment include:

  We will be supporting efforts to turn people out in Washington, DC for the Women’s March being held on Saturday, Jan. 21. Info on the national march can be found HERE.  Missouri page for the March is HERE Those in the mid-Missouri area who are interested in attending can also contact us here at Peaceworks, by e-mailing us CLICK HERE or calling us at 573-875-0539 and sharing your contact info (phone & e-mail) so we can let you know about bus and other arrangements.

  We will also be working with our local allies to put on events here on January 20-21 that those who aren’t going to DC can participate in to demonstrate our concerns and, as Donald Trump is being inaugurated, help inaugurate a new era of progressive activism here at the grassroots. Stay tuned to these e-mails and our Facebook page for details as we move this forward. And please let us know if you’d like to help with the organizing.

  Contact your elected officials to let them know of your concerns. You can find contact info for your congressperson and senators HERE. There are many, many concerns that would be good to share with these officials, but perhaps the most timely is to urge our senators to reject Trump’s egregious cabinet appointments, all of whom must be confirmed by the Senate. It is worthy of note that the Democrats cannot, by themselves, vote down Trump’s appointees, but they could filibuster which could lead to at least some of them being rejected. It would be good to request this of both our senators, but especially to emphasize this with Sen. Claire McCaskill. You can find a list of Trump’s appointments announced to date HERE.

•  Join in visible demonstrations opposing the Trump agenda. For the past 15 years we have maintained a weekly presence every Wednesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m. for a Rush Hour Peace Demonstration at Broadway and Providence. It is our hope and intention in the months ahead to expand this presence in both numbers of participants and issues addressed. We invite you to join us any Wednesday, for any portion of the time we are out there. We also need help making new banners and would really welcome help in this department as well. Please e-mail us HERE or contact Mark at 573-875-0539 if you’d like to help with banner making.

  Help us redouble our educational efforts. Ultimately, our ability to move our country in a progressive direction depends upon more of our fellow citizens embracing our shared vision of a peaceful, just and sustainable future, one of cooperation, caring and sharing. This includes many component pieces, but our efforts in the months ahead will be addressed largely to informing our neighbors throughout the mid-Missouri region as to the urgency of dealing with the Climate Crisis and as to the availability of solutions if we can muster the political will to enact them. If you would like to help with this process, your participation would be most welcome. We also are looking for opportunities to address the climate issue before organized groups including houses of worship, civic and fraternal organizations, classes, professional organizations, unions and more. If you belong to any such group and would like to have a presentation, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange a presentation.

  This process of mobilization is just beginning. We will be keeping you updated as to other ways to participate in the weeks and months ahead. We do wish to emphasize that, as dismal as the prospects of a Trump presidency appear, this is no time for resignation. Rather, it is a time for unity, mutual support and empowerment. You are needed in this process. This is not a time to take a vacation from activism. Rather, it’s a time to redouble our efforts and for those who’ve been sitting on the sidelines to recognize the urgency of engagement.

We Shall Resist!

The election is over, and, like so many people of conscience around the nation and the world, we are astonished. We are deeply troubled. And we recognize the urgent need for us to redouble our efforts in light of the impending Trump presidency.

While during election campaigns we cannot endorse candidates, we hope you recognize that so much of what Donald J. Trump stands for is antithetical to what we in Peaceworks’ believe in and the sort of future we are working to co-create; one that’s peaceful, just and sustainable.

While it will take a little while to explore specifically what strategies we might pursue in response to the Trump victory, we can, right now, pledge the following:

·        We will stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers. We will join our Muslim members and neighbors in clear opposition to Islamophobia; in opposition to a ban on Muslims entering our country; in opposition to the denial of refuge to those fleeing war zones; in opposition to efforts to spread fear and loathing in our communities.

·        We will stand together with our undocumented sisters and brothers. We stand in opposition to efforts to deport 11 million or more U.S. residents, the vast majority of whom are honest, hardworking members of our communities. We oppose breaking up families and recognize that many undocumented people have close family members who are U.S. citizens. We will also oppose efforts to wall off our nation. And we will join our Latino and Latina neighbors in opposition to the sorts of profiling that impacts U.S. citizens as well as non-citizens, creating an atmosphere of intimidation and alienation.

·        We stand in solidarity with all our members, friends and neighbors who are people of color. We recognize that Donald Trump plunged into politics heading up the so-called “Birther Movement;” a thinly veiled racist assault on President Barack Obama and his administration. We see through a dog-whistle campaign slogan like “law and order.” We know that the sort of national “stop and frisk” policy that Trump has called for is dangerous. The implementation of such policies virtually always is unconstitutionally directed to people of color in low income neighborhoods.

·        We stand with our LGBT members and friends. We recognize clearly that the rights of LGBT people, not yet fully realized, are vulnerable to a major setback if the new president places on the courts the sort of appointees he has pledged to. We also are profoundly aware of the sorts of homophobic attitudes that are part of the worldview of so many of the people who worked on and supported Trump’s campaign for the White House. We will join with our community—gay and straight together—to oppose any attempts to roll back the hard-won gains made in recent years.

·        We stand with all the female members of our Peaceworks family and our broader community. Donald J. Trump is a walking insult to women. He is an unrepentant, objectifying, sexist boor who has admitted to sexually assaulting women. It is outrageous, in our opinion, to have someone who treats women with such brazen disrespect elected president of the nation. We will stand in solidarity with our sisters still struggling for equal rights at a time when the rights that have been won face possible rollback by the incoming Trump administration.

·        We will stand with all working for peace. While some hope that Trump will not be as likely to engage in foreign interventions, there is little to indicate that this is so. He has talked, repeatedly, about his desire to steal Iraq’s oil. He has stated that when it comes to ISIS, his intention is to “bomb the sh*t out of them.” He seems to accept the “might makes right” paradigm. And, most distressingly, he has repeatedly questioned the notion that the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal is unusable, suggesting that these weapons are legitimate. Moreover, he has suggested that proliferating nuclear weapons to Japan, South Korea or Saudi Arabia would be sound foreign policy. We will stand united with all who seek to end the permanent war economy and move our nation away from war and militarism.

·         We will also stand with all working to address the existential threat of climate change. Donald Trump is a climate change denier who has pledged to undo the modest steps President Obama has taken to address the Climate Crisis and to, instead, move full speed ahead with fossil fuel extraction. If he is allowed to pursue this course of action, including dismantling the Paris Agreement, it will undermine efforts to address the climate all around the world with disastrous consequences. We pledge to resist these reckless missteps and to continue to work to build a strong consensus favoring effective climate action. We will also stand with all, including native peoples, who are taking a stand to protect our water, earth and air from pollution and to promote, instead, an energy efficient, clean energy economy.

We will seek to build the broadest possible coalitions to resist the misguided directions the incoming Trump administration is likely to pursue, from their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, throwing 20 million people off their health insurance, to their proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and other misdirected policies that are likely to increase economic inequality.

Our efforts to resist depend upon active participation. We invite all reading this to consider how you might join us in working to build a strong movement resistance movement. Working together we are stronger. Mutual support is essential. Your engaged participation is really needed now. Please join us.

As the Election Approaches

As we write, the seemingly interminable 2016 campaign is headed toward its conclusion. The national election is finally less than two weeks off.

As you likely know, Peaceworks does not endorse, support or oppose candidates for office. As an educational and advocacy group we take strong stands on issues but, when it comes to candidates, we do what we can to inform our members and supporters as to where the candidates stand, without ever lending support to specific candidates.

Earlier this month we published on-line the results of a survey of candidates for Missouri legislative seats and statewide Missouri offices, focused on issues of energy and climate change. If you’ve not yet seen this report, we invite you to check it out. Just CLICK HERE.

Peaceworks does encourage active citizenship. We recognize voting as an integral part of our civic life in a self-governing republic, even given the flawed electoral system we live under. We, at Peaceworks, are deeply troubled by the role of money in politics and the disproportionate influence that a relative handful of billionaires and multi-millionaires has in our political process. We support putting limits on campaign financing, overturning not just Citizens United, but also Buckley v. Valeo, the 1976 Supreme Court decision that  equated money with speech.

We are also disturbed by efforts at voter suppression and intimidation. We support efforts to make voting as easy and convenient as possible so that all those eligible to vote can do so. This includes supporting expanded voting opportunities through early voting and providing the option for mail-in voting for all who wish to vote this way. We also oppose efforts to make it harder to register by requiring documents that may be difficult for some people, particularly low-income and the elderly, to provide.

Peaceworks has also long been a supporter of other electoral reforms including the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting (aka Instant Runoff Voting). This sort of reform addresses the problems caused by our plurality (not majority) wins system, which allows candidates to win with less than majority support in races with three or more candidates.  This so-called “spoiler factor” leads to less than democratic outcomes and causes many voters to cast a strategic vote, rather than voting for the candidate who comes closest to their views. More information on this important reform is available if you CLICK HERE.

We are profoundly aware of the fact that elections have consequences. When the votes are counted and the winners announced, those people will then play a major role in governance for the next two, four or even six years. They will promulgate policy, vote on legislation, nominate and confirm (or not confirm) judicial appointments.

It will matter if the people we elect acknowledge the reality of climate change, or if they deny it. It will matter if they support economic and tax policies that benefit working people, or ones that benefit those already very wealthy. It will matter what policies they embrace on a long list of domestic and international concerns. It will matter whose finger is on the nuclear trigger.

Each of us, when we vote, plays a very modest, but still important, role in deciding who these elected officials will be. We encourage you to become well informed and make your decisions wisely, paying attention to the likely consequences of your votes.

We also urge you to recognize that, while voting is important, it is a very modest part of what active, engaged citizenship is all about. Voting usually takes place one to three times a year. If you spend 20 minutes at the polls, you spend less than an hour a year voting. This should leave room for other, more meaningful, forms of citizenship, including working with grassroots groups to promote action on issues you’re concerned about, attendance at public meetings, communicating with elected officials, communicating about the issues with fellow citizens, publicly demonstrating your concerns and lots more.

We, at Peaceworks, hope that many of you reading this will want to work with us as we address the Climate Crisis, war and peace concerns, sustainable living and lots more. We do hope that you will get out to vote on November 8, recognizing that, while this is the end of a campaign season, it is just a step on the long and winding road to creating a brighter future for all. We look forward to working with you on as we move forward.

Climate Matters—Candidates’ Stands Matter

As you may already know, Peaceworks has been working hard to bring the Climate Crisis to the foreground during the election season. While we do not endorse, support or oppose candidates for office, we do educate our members, supporters and the public at large as to where the candidates stand.

Toward this end, we sent out questionnaires to 73 candidates inquiring as to their positions on energy and climate concerns. Despite reminders, only 13 of these elected officials and aspiring elected officials took the time to fill out our survey.

This lack of willingness to go on the record regarding this existential threat reflects, it seems to us, both an ignorance of the nature of the threat and a perception that these are not issues of great concern to constituents.

We encourage you to CLICK HERE to see our questions and to learn what those who did respond have to say.

We also have provided a full list of the 73 we attempted to survey and, wherever possible, we have included a link to their websites or Facebook pages. Some have info as to their energy and climate stances posted. Most do not. Most pages do have a contact link where you can send them a message.

We encourage you to contact those who did reply, thank them for responding, and to share your thoughts on the positions they’ve taken.

We also encourage you to contact those who have not responded to express your concern for the climate and for investing in a sustainable energy future. If you let them know that this is an issue that concerns their constituents, perhaps they will come to recognize its importance.

We should also note that we did not attempt to contact candidates for local county offices, and likewise, as a local group, we did not attempt to question the presidential candidates. The stands of candidates at all levels of governance are critically important and we encourage you to explore where all candidates stand before voting.

Again, you can find the results of our survey if you CLICK HERE.