FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Green Mountain Days

by RON JACOBS

 

Well, school’s about out for the year, but that doesn’t mean that all students are merely partying and taking exams. In fact, antiwar students have mounted what could be called an offensive in the last few weeks of the 2006-2007 academic year here in the US. As previous readers might know, there have been a number of sit-ins in legislators’ offices and a number of protests in Washington State against military equipment shipments. In all of these actions, students have been participants and organizers. In addition, there have been a number of rallies on campuses and, at the University of Vermont in Burlington, there was a statewide student antiwar conference. Vermont is unique in a number of ways, with its small size being prominent among those differences. This size enables people to actually feel that they have a say in their government. Of course, like everywhere else, this say is merely an illusion, but at times it truly makes a difference. In addition, Vermont has the highest number of per capita deaths in from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This latter fact is most certainly part of the reason for the intensely antiwar feeling that runs across the state’s population. In order to get elected in Vermont, politicians have to at least come out in opposition to the war. Unfortunately, those words don’t always seem to hold up once those politicians head to Washington where human lives become matters of corporate party politics.

I am writing this piece from Vermont. I am here on a visit to see old friends and get away from my new digs for a week. It’s refreshing to be in a place where the mindset matches one’s own. However, that’s one of the reasons I moved–I figured it was getting to comfortable and that it was time to go where the opposition was more present. So I moved to North Carolina, where the opposition is more vocal and considerably greater than it is here in Vermont. Yet, in today’s United States where people move constantly, it is becoming rarer and rarer that any regional stereotypes can hold up for long. In addtion, the continuing homogenization of our culture into one great big land of Gap and generic coffee shops and chain restaurants continues to push us all towards a megaculture determined by the profit margins of WalMart and Clear Channel.

Anyhow, while I am here, I decided to check in with a couple friends involved in different aspects of the antiwar movement in Vermont. The first one I ran into was Mary Coleman-Howard, a student at the University of Vermont and one fo the primary organizers of the recent VTCAN conference. My first question regarding the conference concerned numbers and the general mood of those attending. Mary estimated that between forty-five and fifty students from six campuses were in attendance. Their general mood was one of excitement and a desire to do everything they can to end the war, including civil disobedience and extralegal forms of direct action. If there was one drawback to the conference, it was the lack of high school students.

Mary attributed this to the fact that she and other organizers focused mostly on colleges this time around. She next step is to reach and organize in the high schools. When I asked her about the feeling among the conferees concerning elected officials, she told me that “people seemed to hold few illusions in the Dems, but (they) also think we should continue pressure on them so that they stop voting for the war. This is very much a step forward than in 2004, when the Dems were seen as the saviors of all humanity. This really shows what the 2006 elections have done and the (result of the) Dems inaction.”

There is also an impeachment movement in Vermont that has the support of most of its citizens. Just this weekend, the state’s popular third party-the Progressives- passed a resolution supporting the movement to impeach Bush and Cheney. The resolution was passed unanimously with one abstention. This action by the Progressive Party puts the organization in sync with the Vermont Democratic Party, the Vermont State Senate, and 37 Vermont towns that have already passed their own impeachment resolutions, although the newly elected Democratic Congressman from Vermont, Peter Welch has yet to support the resolution, telling his constituents that “history will impeach George W. Bush.” IVAW member Adrienne Kinne responded to Welch’s sentiment in an email with these words: “With all due respect, that is not how a constitutional democracy works. It is our duty, and his, to defend the Constitution from all attacks today.”

Although the impeachment movement represents a clear challenge to the Bush administration, its dependence on the Democrats for its success makes it a distant hope. If we are to learn anything from this, it should be that there is a reason the Democrats do not want to jump on the impeachment bandwagon. As far as that goes, the best reason I can come up with is that they have more invested in the goals of the Bush administration’s foreign policy than they do in the preservation of the Constitution. So, as my friend Michael B. noted in a conversation we were having over a pint here in Burlington, the best even the impeachment people can probably hope for is that a few more rats will be tossed overboard-Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, maybe Gonzales and maybe more-just so us citizens think that some changes are being made. Meanwhile, the wars drag on.

So, as we head into the final year of the Bush-Cheney administration, it looks like the wars of Washington are not going to diminish. Indeed, given Cheney’s rather bellicose statements on his most recent trip to the Middle East, they could even expand. If we are to prevent this, it is essential that the antiwar movement also expand its efforts and breadth. Even impeachment should be a means to ending the war, not an end in itself. As for the 2008 elections, organizing for the elections is not our job. Leave that to the politicians. Of course, if a candidate comes along who shares our desire for immediate and unconditional withdrawal, then we should of course support them, but our energies must not be diverted into anyone’s campaign. Let them join our movement to end the wars. We shouldn’t join their movement to get elected.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net

 

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail