The CA Peace Alliance (TPA) continued building bridges for peace at the CA Democratic Party (CDP) Executive Board meeting in San Diego in November. Three times each year, CDP elected officials and grassroots party activists meet to set policy for the Party.
The November 2014 meeting focused on what went well with the election, what did not, and how the CDP can improve on its tradition of establishing a more just and equitable society – matters which overlap with TPA concerns.
During the weekend meeting, the CA TPA focused on expanding support for our peacebuilding initiatives – including the U.S. Department of Peacebuilding Act (DoP), the Youth PROMISE Act (YPA), restorative justice, restorative practices and Proposition 47 reforms. We listened, we dialogued, and we networked about the implications of peacebuilding in creating a society that values and nurtures all.
This was interspersed with CDP concerns about the abysmal November voter turnout, especially among college students, and the importance of focusing on issues of concern to base supporters. Many vocalized the need to stand for something rather than acting out of fear and worry about the “opposition.” Other themes included education, the environment and poverty. One speaker told a story about newly-elected State Senator Mike McGuire (District 2) who was so dedicated to knocking on every door in his very large Northern CA district that he kept campaigning on into Oregon.
In the arena of ‘standing for something,’ the CDP passed resolutions in support of saving net neutrality, stopping UC tuition hikes, condemning the disappearance of Mexican students, and supporting executive action on immigration reform. The party also passed a Ferguson resolution: “No Taxation Without Representation,” which supports the citizens of Ferguson’s drive to re-establish the democratic process and “we recommit to the principle of one person, one vote, with a goal of 100% registration and voting in all CA counties” and resisting any efforts to disenfranchise voters, wherever they may reside.
I. CA TPA Tabling
At our CA TPA booth, we talked about local, national and international violence and peacebuilding possibilities. We asked attendees to sign letters urging members of Congress to cosponsor current and upcoming 2015 DoP legislation and came away with 271 signed letters. We asked delegates to sign a United Nations petition urging all member nations to create departments, ministries and infrastructures of peace. We attended caucus meeting and general sessions. We listened to party officials and attendees. Our outreach included:
- Letters. We asked attendees to sign letters to the four remaining CA Congress members who were DoP cosponsors, but who have not signed on in this 2013-2014 session of Congress, to become cosponsors now and in 2015. The 271 signed letters, included 55 to Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), 53 to Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), 58 to Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (CA-38), 50 to Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30), and 65 to other legislators. After a similar action in July 2014, we hand-delivered those summer letters in Washington, D.C. Two members of Congress – Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) – signed back on as cosponsors almost immediately.
- UN Petition for Infrastructures of Peace. In addition to calling on the United Nations and all member nations to support establishment of Departments and Ministries of Peace(building) within their own nations, the petition also calls for peace education and creation of peace economies. To date individuals from approximately one half of the UN member nations have signed the petition, i.e. at least 96 of 196 nations are represented. To sign, go to www.peacenow.com, which is motivated by the fact that since 2004, two million children have been killed by war.
- Networking. As part of our networking we talked with CDP party and elected officials such as CDP Chair John Burton, CDP Co-Vice Chair Eric Bauman, and CA Controller-elect Betty Yee. We talked with education resolution proponents, San Diego Rotary Club members, environmentalists, progressives and friends/ supporters of our past successes with CDP endorsement of DoP and YPA.
II. Caucus Meetings
Because peacebuilding touches all of us, we connected with as many CDP caucuses as possible. In some cases we attended the caucus meetings, spoke at some to update them on the status of the U.S. Department of Peacebuilding legislation, met with caucus leadership or informally talked with caucus members. In addition to the Business and Professional caucus, the CA Young Dems, the Chicano/ Latino caucus, the Labor caucus, and the Rural caucus, we connected with:
- African American – We thanked this caucus for helping us secure the CDP endorsement of DoP, let them know CA Congresswoman Barbara Lee will introduce the DoP legislation early in 2015, and asked for their help garnering more Congressional cosponsors for that legislation. We stressed the connection between Dr. Martin Luther King’s work to eliminate poverty, racism and war and work of the Peace Alliance.
- Arab American Caucus – We heard that our elected officials, and our nation, have a long way to go regarding full inclusion of Arab Americans in this society. We also updated this group on the status of DoP.
- Environmental Caucus – We learned from Tom Hayden – organizer, writer, former CA State legislator – that while there is much work to be done relating to environmental issues, there is also hope. He noted that the November 2014 ‘handshake’ between President Barak Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping relating to cutting both countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by about one third over the next two decades, is a ‘game changer’ as China and the US represent 40% of the carbon emissions on earth. California leads in green jobs and the state has already budgeted $120 billion toward environmental concerns/ lowering pollution.
- Progressive Caucus – The Progressive caucus held a panel discussion on poverty. One panelist, Margaret Prescott of KPFK radio in Los Angeles, talked about the hurdles of rising out of poverty and “throw-away people” whose lives are treated as valueless. Another panelist, CA State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, said that one half of CA children are poor or near poor, 25% live in poverty and 1% (500,000) children live in deep poverty. She linked education and escaping poverty.
- Veterans Caucus – We learned that the Veterans Caucus was asked to endorse approximately 500 pieces of legislation in the last year. The caucus chair said he does not know of one veteran who is for war.
- Women’s Caucus – Part of the discussion centered on the disproportion impact on women of Workers’ Compensation policies.
III. Gratitude to Volunteers
Thank you to our small, but mighty, group of CDP meeting volunteers – Pete Beauregard (San Diego), Brian Gibbs (San Diego), Lily Marie (Nevada County), Doug Merritt (San Francisco Bay area), Nancy Merritt (San Francisco Bay area), and Laia Rufano (Los Angeles). Thanks to the CA TPA Democratic Endorsement team and others who helped organize and supported this effort. The CA Democratic Endorsement team includes Brian Gibbs (San Diego), Maggi Koren (Sonoma), Lily Marie (Nevada County), Nancy Merritt (San Francisco Bay Area), Lorrie Norby (Marin County), Josh Roebuck (Oakland), and Jerilyn Stapleton (Los Angeles).
By Nancy Merritt