by Portland Peace & Justice Works
On Saturday, July 22, in a hotly contested race, the United States Government was named “Warmonger of the Year” by a group of Portlanders, winning 30% of the 311 votes cast. The contest was held at the 20th anniversary event of local group Peace and Justice Works (PJW), which also included as nominees the U.S. Military, the Portland Police Bureau, War Profiteers/”Contractors,” and Drones.
The government may have had a leg up because its category combined the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, which pointed out in their nomination speech that “each branch has done [its] own share of keeping the wars going at home and abroad.” From a presidential “kill list” to bloated military budgets that include weapons the Pentagon doesn’t even want to supporting corporate funding of political races as free speech, the Government’s win was well deserved.
“I was robbed!” said the member of Portland Copwatch (a project group of PJW) who stood in for the Portland Police Bureau giving a nomination speech. With a list of eight people shot by Portland Police in the last two years, including a homeless man and a suicidal man on a rooftop, violent crackdowns on Occupy Portland and enforcing laws such as Sit/Lie disproportionately against poor people and people of color, many thought the PPB would score higher; instead, they came in a close last.
“Outrageous!” claimed the PJW board member who stood in for the war profiteers and contractors. Pointing out that the profiteers are very familiar with the system of voting at the PJW event, in which participants could pay more money to buy extra votes, this nominee felt there would be more kinship with the crowd. Instead, the track record of $130 million spent lobbying in 2011, large contracts by Portland area contractors such as FLIR Systems, and negligence by Kellogg Brown and Root that led to health problems for the National Guard weren’t enough to push the profiteers to the top slot. (They did come in second, though.)
“I’m very disappointed,” said the PJW Iraq Affinity Group member who stood in to speak for the Drones. The drones’ use in six countries to kill people (Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Libya), the emergence of a drone lobby and caucus in Congress, and the growing number of drone operators experiencing PTSD should have made the killer robot aircraft a shoe-in for “Warmonger of the Year.” All that, plus a 10-foot model drone greeting participants in the driveway and a stuffed toy appearing for the nomination speech and throughout the evening didn’t get the drones past third place.
“No comment,” said the Vietnam veteran for peace who stood in for the military’s four branches (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines). Despite pointing out how much money is going to the military instead of to human needs, such as the $2 billion a week spent on the war in Afghanistan; the military’s wide scope – over 600 bases in over 140 countries, including 1200 soldiers in Africa; the continued presence of “advisors” in Iraq (as well as in Yemen); and the fact that one quarter of the over 2000 dead in Afghanistan were killed just in 2011-2012, the Military scored just one vote higher than the Police and came in fourth.
Thanking All the Big People
In the winner’s speech, the PJW co-founding member who represented the U.S. Government thanked the runners up who helped make warmongering possible: The corporate media for “cheerleading the carnage and passing over the protests,” the prison-industrial complex for putting more people in jail than any other nation, the nuclear weapons and nuclear power industries for continuing to grow even after the Fukushima disaster, and most of all, the American public for staying mostly silent despite overwhelming opposition to, for example, the continued military presence in Afghanistan.
Votes for Sale
The 311 votes were cast by around 30 people, who adhered closely to the saying “vote early and vote often.” Participants at the event gained one vote at entry, but were able to buy more votes to reflect how elections can be bought and sold in America’s democracy. Φ
For more information, contact Peace and Justice Works / Portland Copwatch at 503-236-3065, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Address: PO Box 42456, Portland, OR 97242. http://www.pjw.info http://www.portlandcopwatch.org.