October 16 2008
Like many—perhaps most—advocates for peace and justice, we at the War Resisters League are of more than one mind about the upcoming elections. We come from diverse political perspectives, including varying shades of socialism, anarchism, and reform-oriented liberalism, and have concomitantly diverse opinions within the organization and our membership about whether and how to engage elections.
There are points on which we are agreed. On the one hand, we all acknowledge the historic nature of this moment, and the fact that whatever the outcome, it is finally possible, in this nation so profoundly and for so long divided by race, for a Black man to become president. We see the rising expectations that possibility has triggered among African-Americans and other groups that have historically felt and indeed been disenfranchised, and we want to seize the new opportunity for organizing among those communities.
At the same time, we are aware that there are many vital issues at stake, some of which will certainly be affected by the outcome of this election; these include, at least, the future composition of the Supreme Court, world opinion of U.S. policies, and, quite possibly, the details of the federal response to the economic crisis.
We agree, too, that the War Resisters League and all of us as individuals are committed to creating a culture of struggle for nonviolence, justice, and peace. Our role is to agitate and expose, from its root, every sector of society that advocates war. Whichever candidate wins this elections, we will still live in a society that is built on militarism and profiteering, which in turn create a culture that enables, promotes, and profits from war. Neither of the major-party presidential candidates seems likely to reduce the massive arms trade. Neither is committed to a complete withdrawal from Iraq. Both have stated a strong commitment to escalating the war in Afghanistan. When we come out of the election frenzy, we will still live within a growing prison-industrial complex and under a government in which the executive power has far outstripped the balance of power mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
Working to change all that is no small task. We are committed to building a world in which it becomes more and more difficult for those who advocate war to gain power. While WRL does not endorse or campaign for any political candidates or parties, we nonetheless believe it's important that we pay attention to the electoral campaigns and the candidates’ positions on critical social, economic, environmental, and foreign policy issues in order to make our organizing work more effective. The stakes are much too grave for people worldwide. The U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the threats of intervention in Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and elsewhere, the domestic agenda, the environment, and our government’s spending priorities are all issues we cannot afford to ignore. What happens in Washington, we know all too well, has devastating effects around the world.
We particularly encourage young people to pay close attentions to issues of concern to them and be knowledgeable and well-equipped to participate actively in their respective communities. Considering the current economic and political climate, it is critical that all of us take the time to think about the ways that we can be active agents in working to change our immediate environment, not just at the national or global level, but within our local communities.