ABCs of Getting a Local Campaign Started

Because Congress, so far, is not listening and continues to throw money at the Pentagon and to ignore the urgent need to change priorities, the whole point of our Move the Money to Human Needs campaign is to mobilize at a local level among communities to push local officials to publicly acknowledge that the huge sums going into the US military aren’t bringing us security and prosperity but actually starving our cities and communities.

If pressured by us, and by all those constituencies hurt by the coming cutbacks, local governments — already desperate for funds and now more desperate thanks to the pandemic, lockdown, and mass unemployment — must speak out for a rational federal budget priorities.

What is completely new — and working in our favor — is that the economic and fiscal crisis of local governments are so acute that those who ignored us before are less likely to ignore us now. A sign of the change is that even in Congress the more progressive forces at least are speaking up for the need to cut the Pentagon budget.

Demanding that Congress “prioritize our safety and our future, not more war,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has unveiled a resolution supported by 29 other House members calling for up to $350 billion in cuts to the Pentagon budget by closing U.S. military bases overseas, ending ongoing conflicts, scrapping weapons programs, and eliminating President Donald Trump’s Space Force.

So Let’s Get Started

1. Beginning a campaign starts with a conversation between you and neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives about local needs, city essential service cuts, layoffs, lack of infrastructure repair, high and increasing local taxes. If you are connected to city government you can initiate the conversation there.

2. It’s important to consider where are you starting organizationally. If you are already a member of a peace or justice group, naturally, that’s the place to start to fashion a resolution and push for a public hearing.

If not, are you connected with local social justice organizations (or national organizations with local chapters)? Does your house of worship have a social justice committee? Are you involved in any local organizations — schools, daycare, senior or youth centers, sports leagues — that rely to some extent on funding from local or state government? A local trade union? What about business/community organizations like Rotary?

3. Do you know members of your city council or the town’s mayor? If not, it is always an enormous help if you know someone who pays attention to city council politics (not all of us do) and who knows city council members and can help you get your foot in the door.

4. In general, it makes sense to demand public hearings; they permit the peace movement to make the debate about priorities more public and to involve more constituencies, and the media. In a public hearing, experience shows, the testimony of those agency heads of municipal government forced to make harsh budget cuts can be powerful. Also, if possible, we can put you in touch with like-minded people in your area willing to work with you.

5. Anticipate resistance and lame excuses. Around the country, people who have done this work usually get a remarkably uniform set of reasons for inaction. You are asking a city council member to do something new. Expect to hear:

  • Hey, I’m a local official. I don’t do foreign policy. I don’t have a vote on the Pentagon budget. Call Congresswoman X or US Senator Y…
  • My job is to cut the ribbon when I’ve managed to squeeze out of the city parks budget a new kiddie swings or monkey bars for our neighborhood playground, not to take on Raytheon or Boeing.
  • My job is to fight for the biggest slice of the city budget pie, not to ask questions about why the pie is shrinking.

6. Don’t let it stop you. Try to convince them. If not successful, try to reach another city council member. Have people from the community flood their offices with calls and messages demanding a Move the Money Resolution.

7. Contact us. We will do our best to provide you with campaign ideas, and with model resolutions and other materials for fact sheets and flyers. Our contact email is: Contact@MoneyForHumanNeeds.org.

 

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