Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why don't major candidates appear at peace forums?

Recently I was reading about a candidates' forum held at a conservative Christian convention that was attended by 1000 delegates from groups throughout the country. Every major presidential candidate appeared. There are similar conventions hosted by the NRA, the AMA, the NAACP, the ABA, the American Legion, trade associations, labor federations, and numerous other groups.

There has never been a candidate, major or minor, appearing at a peace group convention, let alone the whole crowd of them. Why is that? We need only look to the simplest of answers: no such thing exists. No such thing has ever existed.

There is no peace movement in this country. There are no 1000 delegates from local organizations bound together by a common agenda who could attend and put hard questions to candidates, nor is there any organized manner by which meaningful blocs of votes are committed or removed based upon the responses. Peace proponents do not participate in the multi-faceted parliamentary process that drives elections to decision-making posts in our republican (small "r") democracy.

We must create ourselves. We must force the need for responsiveness to our beliefs within the existing political process, as so many other significant organizations do. In order to do so, we must create 1000 well-populated local peace service organizations, who will send over 1000 delegates to a hotel in New York City or Washington, and make it clear that any candidate who doesn't have a working plan to promote our beliefs, or who fails to appear, or both, will lose access to a gigantic bloc of single-issue voters.

We kick-start the development of real potency for the bloc by highlighting the ability to determine the outcome of Electoral College votes in so-called "swing states," that is, those not overwhelmingly tending towards either major party. That means we use our limited resources to build and populate our peace service groups in the swing states first, although not at the expense of getting off the ground everywhere peace-proponents live and associate.

It's not complicated. It's not expensive. It must be done. Start your local chapter of the National Peace Service today. Scroll down to "How To Get Started" and "How To Get Started, Part 2" for the basics of how to start and operate your group.

If you have questions, or better yet, to let me know how you're doing with your start-up, please post a comment to this blog, and/or send me email at And please forward the address far and wide.

We can make this happen. We must make this happen.


Joshua Parker said...

You say there is no genuine peace movement in this country, but what about the Peace Alliance?

Steve Greenfield said...

Mr. Parker:

Sorry for my delay. I haven't been keeping up with posts on my blog. I doubt you'll be checking back to read this, but here, just in case.

I love the mission of this group. I'd love to participate in it myself -- getting a cabinet-level Peace Department would be a major accomplishment towards setting this country on having peace as its default position.

But this group isn't a peace movement. It's last "success update" is from 2005 and its last planning coordination photo is from 2006. If they were active, they could be an important part of a peace movement, not the peace movement itself, but they don't appear to be active. This entirely fits in with my general complaint that an awful lot of what we're calling "movements" these days is made up of wannabe lobbyists with good websites, subscriptions to email action alerts, PayPal accounts, and no boots on the ground or presence in the ordinary public consciousness. There is nobody that hasn't heard of the Moral Majority, or the NRA, or the American Legion, or heaven help us, Tea Parties; and it's not just right-wing movements -- people have heard of Marriage Equality, organized labor; and it's not just politics -- everyone's heard of AA, and Babe Ruth Little League and Pop Warner Football. Movements have people in them, people getting together and doing things. That's what makes it a movement.

If I am wrong -- if Peace Alliance is a working movement with an actual population that regularly interfaces with the population at large in a coordinated, recognizable way, please let me know.