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A Presidential Occupation Project

Seasons of Discontent

by JEFF LEYS And BRIAN TERRELL

Hi Ho. Hi Ho. It’s off to Washington, D.C. we go. For another demonstration at the seat of power.

But hold on a minute. This fall and winter, the road to the seat of power goes through Iowa with its first in the nation presidential caucus.

Let’s journey to Iowa, together to bring nonviolent civil resistance and civil disobedience to the campaign offices and headquarters of Presidential candidates-both Republican and Democrat-who do not publicly pledge to take the necessary concrete steps to end the Iraq war, to rebuild Iraq, to forswear military attacks on other countries, and to fully fund the Common Good in the U.S.

Join this campaign: SODaPOP-Seasons of Discontent: A Presidential Occupation Project.

Iowa will be the first stage in this campaign. We invite you to join us in Iowa and then to bring the campaign home with you to your home states as the Presidential election season moves forward.

An Invitation to Iowa

Voices for Creative Nonviolence and our allies in Iowa are in the initial stages of organizing a campaign of nonviolent civil resistance focused upon those who would be President.

This fall and early winter, Republican and Democratic candidates are swarming in Iowa in preparation for the "First in the Nation!" 2008 caucuses. Campaign headquarters are established in cities and towns across the state and candidates are showing up at public events large and small, shaking hands, jockeying for photo ops kissing babies and pigs. The national and international press is there in force. Representatives of unions, industry and other interest groups from around the nation are gathering, not only to influence the results of the caucus but also to take advantage of the extraordinary access to the candidates the caucus provides, and to draw attention to their issues and causes as the world’s attention is focused on the state.

Seasons of Discontent: A Presidential Occupation Project (SODaPOP) will launch this October introducing nonviolent direct action against the war in Iraq into the presidential election process. Activists from around the nation are encouraged to journey to Iowa to "occupy" the Iowa campaign headquarters of presidential candidates who do not pledge to concrete plans for complete withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq. Such candidates might also be challenged as they make public appearances around the state without regard for arbitrary "free speech zone" restrictions that may be established by candidates, parties, police or the Secret Service.

While SODAPOP will launch in mid-October, we are organizing for two weeks of intensive and extensive actions in Iowa in the two weeks immediately preceding the Iowa caucus. The Iowa caucus is currently scheduled for January 14, though it is somewhat fluid as of now. (The date may change since South Carolina Republicans moved up the date of their caucus.) The Iowa Republican and Democratic Party state central committees will meet on September 8 to decide whether to change the date of the Iowa caucus.

Whether the caucuses are earlier or later, we are inviting "affinity groups" from around the country to start organizing a trip to Iowa in the coming months with special attention to the two weeks immediately prior to the caucuses.

SODaPOP Demands

While the demands of the campaign are still being finalized, the initial concept is to occupy the campaign headquarters and offices of Presidential candidates who do not commit to:

o Complete withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan within 100 days of assuming the office of President of the United States.

o Complete halt to any and all military actions-including ground, air and naval–against Iraq and Iran.

o Full funding for the reconstruction of Iraq to repair the damage caused over these past 17 years of economic and military warfare that the U.S. and its allies waged against Iraq.

o Full funding for the Common Good in the U.S.-to rebuild our education and health care systems; to create jobs training programs for jobs that pay a living wage; to provide universal health care for all; to rebuild our country’s inner cities and rural communities; and to initiate a campaign on the scale of a new Tennessee Valley Authority and Rural Electrification Project of the Great Depression era to create affordable, safe and sustainable alternative forms of energy and energy consumption; and for other vital social programs.

o Full funding for the highest quality health care, education and jobs training benefits for veterans of our country’s Armed Services.

For those Presidential candidates who currently hold a seat in the House or Senate, we set forth the following additional demands:

o Vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war other than those funds that are essential to fund the complete and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

o Publicly commit to oppose the use of U.S. military forces against Iran, Pakistan or any other opening front in the "war on terror."

Join us in Iowa at this critical time for weekly, if not daily, acts of nonviolent civil resistance / civil disobedience to seek a redirection of our country’s policies and to bring about an end to the Iraq war. We travel to Washington, D.C. for national actions all the time. Now is the time to travel to Iowa, the heart of our country’s heartland, to seek an end to the Iraq war.

Following the Iowa caucus, let us bring SODaPOP to the campaign headquarters of candidates in our respective home states, with the next critical days of nonviolent resistance to be as we approach February 5 (Super Duper Tuesday, when 20 states hold presidential primaries and caucuses).

Please be in contact with us about joining this very critical campaign of nonviolent direct action, civil resistance and civil disobedience. To participate in SODaPOP, you may reach us via Voices for Creative Nonviolence at 773-878-3815 or via email at info@vcnv.org. Additional information and resources will also be available on the Voices website: www.vcnv.org.

Jeff Leys is Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and national organizer with the Occupation Project campaign.

Brian Terrell is active in the Catholic Worker movement and a member of Strangers & Guests Catholic Worker Community in Malloy