What Obama's Victory Means for Us

Sisters and brothers,

On election night, president-elect Barack Obama called on the people of this country to stay active, to be a part of bringing change, not just to the White House, but to the world. We’ve got to take the energy from this historic election, and focus it on the issues many of us had in mind as we cast our ballots on Tuesday.

The anti-war movement has spent all eight years of the Bush presidency in the streets – opposing the so-called war on terror, and the war and occupation of Iraq, which have together claimed more than a million human lives. In September, we marched by the tens of thousands in St. Paul, confronting the Republican Convention with a strong anti-war message. Yesterday, millions went to the ballot boxes, to take another stand against the war-mongering policies that defined the McCain/Palin campaign for the White House.

So, let’s claim this victory: McCain was defeated, and Barack Obama has been elected the first African American president in U.S. history. This is something many of us thought we would never see. The election of Barack Obama represents a blow to racism. Amazingly, this is just three years after racism turned the storm of Hurricane Katrina into a disaster that killed thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

This election also gives a voice to the hopes of millions of  voters, who want progressive change, peace in Iraq, and policies that address the needs of poor and working people here at home. Many in the anti-war movement voted for Barack Obama, but we can’t count on him to end the occupation of Iraq when he takes office.

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Obama’s Chief of Staff suggests a continuation of policies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Emanuel was an adviser to former president Clinton, and was responsible
for helping to orchestrate the 1993 Oslo accords. These accords paved the way for doubling Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, and increased Israeli aggression against Palestinians. We can only help bring about a just peace for Palestinians, by ending U.S. aid to Israel.

More than once, Obama has suggested escalating military operations in Afghanistan, or expanding to elsewhere in the region. The anti-war movement needs to be ready to oppose U.S. aggression where ever it is directed.

We also know the economy was the number one concern for most voters last week. This fall, the government approved a corporate bail out that will cost much more than the $569 billion spent on the war and occupation in
Iraq. For years, we have been saying, “Money for human needs, not for war.” While politicians are taking on the economic collapse, we need to call on them to spend money on human needs, not just bailing out corporate greed; to address the Iraq crisis, along the economic one.

The night Obama was elected, three states passed ballot initiatives to bann same-sex marriage, another banned adoption by unmarried couples (to prevent GLBT families from adopting), and another voted to end affirmative action. These are steps backwards, and the anti-war movement should be a part of rolling back these attacks.

At home and abroad, we all hope for much more than Obama ever promised; and his campaign never promised a complete withdrawal from Iraq, or peace for other nations. It is not enough to hope for change, we need to
demand it. Let’s continue marching in the streets until Iraqi people have the peace and justice that they’re fighting for. In this spirit, the Anti-War Committee asks for your continued work and support in the exciting times ahead!

* STAY IN THE STREETS: Join us for the 6th annual AWC-sponsored Human Rights Day protest, planned for Saturday, December 13 at 2pm at Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis. Oppose U.S. human rights abuses in Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, here at home and across the globe. We’ll have a quick outdoor rally, a march through the Powderhorn neighborhood, and end with a rally indoors.

* REUSE YOUR CAMPAIGN LAWN SIGNS: Please bring your used lawn signs to our offices on Thursday evenings. We will retrofit them into wonderful protest signs. You may not realize, the police arrested (and did not return) many of our signs on the last day of the RNC – we need fresh material (please limit your gifts to the corrugated plastic variety).

* ORGANIZE WITH THE A.W.C.: The Anti-War Committee always need help organizing protests and educational events. Join us at our weekly meetings (Thursdays at 7pm, 1313 5th St SE #112C, Minneapolis).

* FUND OUR IMPORTANT WORK: We always welcome your financial support. You can make a donation from our website or just mail it to our office (Anti-War Committee, 1313 5th St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414).

In solidarity,
the Anti-War Committee