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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Thursday, September 16, 2004

It's up to Women: VOTE!

Las Cruces is a HUGE city, sprawling thru the high desert like L.A. stretches over the basin. We follow the signs to downtown and as we're driving, we spot Kerry-Edwards headquarters and in we go! The rooms are bustling with folks working hard to get Kerry elected in New Mexico as well as 16 boxes of pizza, which Rae and I both decline. We talk with the volunteer coordinator, who has come from Boston to spend this time in New Mexico. She tells us their strategy is to focus on the registered democrats and the undecided voters – which there are plenty of in that state, especially the western part including Las Cruces. She takes one look at the truck and then gives us her treasured bumper sticker that she's been hording for the right moment, saying she'd be honored to have it travel cross-country with us! It says "It's up to the women: vote" And under that "John Kerry". So she sticks it on an honored place on the side of the truck with the other bumper stickers folks have contributed!
As we're leaving Las Cruces we pull into a gas station to fill up and ask about a the location of a mail box. The young man, manager written across his shirt, tells me he can mail them for us in his office. I tell him these are vitally important documents, voter registration forms. He assures me he will personally make sure they get mailed, altho he himself is not voting. He lives in Texas, which is less than an hour away, and thinks bush might be doing a great job, he's not sure. I tell him I'm sure, bush is doing a terrible job at best. I run thru the state of our economy and this fellow nods his head, agreeing he has witnessed the downfall of the economy first hand. He comes out to the truck with me to get a voter registration form for himself. He asks about codePINK and then says, as the womon earlier, he thinks we should just bomb the whole country and turn it into a parking lot.
I stare at him for a moment, not admitting I’m heartbroken but nod slowly and say “Okay, so it's alright with you if we kill someone's mother, someone's child, someone's wife?''
“Well, they're terrorists,” he says a little less firmly.
I say “They're human beings, people just like you and me. You are talking about killing someone's mother and grandmother and children.”
“Well, I didn't think about it that way,” he says. I with as much certainty as I can convey “You HAVE to think about it that way!”
He asks for more codePINK information. He agrees that a vote for bush is a vote for rich people. He asks for another voter registration form for his girlfriend, saying he will pass this info on to her and talk it over with her.
I think he was sincere and hopefully ready to vote against bush!

"Bush said no one is allowed to stand in front on a post office."

Rae and I got up bright and early this a.m. and headed out for Portales, armed with 24 blank New Mexico voter registration forms. Portales is in another county so our first stop was the county clerk's office to figure out if the county forms were interchangeable - they were! We picked up absentee ballet forms and requested forms printed in Spanish. The white wimmin in the office looked at us blankly, the Hispanic womon came forward and explained there were none.
This is New Mexico we're talking about. Okay.
Outside, we stood in front of the post office, with the truck parked a block away and began vigiling. Most people were registered to vote and most did NOT want to talk but we persisted. Soon an official looking older white man came stomping out of the post office - as much as you can stomp on marble - and declared “You girls have to move along - you're not allowed to stand on the sidewalk in front of a post office.”
After looking around for the ‘girls’ he was talking to – an action that went way over his stiffly coiffed hair, I decided to ignore that for the moment and inside mumbled “Hmmmm, news to me!”
We politely explained that we were registering voters. He then declared with a strate face: “President bush said no one is allowed to stand in front of a post office”.
I asked him for a copy of that statement. He looks confused for a moment so I changed the subject asking instead if the constitution of the united states was upheld in Portales. He retorted that he would call the police.
“Okay, call the police,” I agreed.
We continued trying to register voters and while we were waiting, an older white man waved frantically from across the street, beckoning me to come over. “I have to give you a donation” he proclaims, “It's time to put my money where my mouth is!” He reaches into his pocket, pulls out his wallet and a $20 bill and tells me how glad he is to see us. While we are standing on the sidewalk talking, another elderly white man, his peer, walks stiffly by and doesn't acknowledge our donor's wave or greeting.
“See that," he moans disheartened. “We go to the same church and that man won't even say hi because he hates democrats.”
Wow. The republican extremists, once again.
While we are standing there, I notice a group of white women on the steps of city hall reading the truck and shaking their heads as if they're looking at Clinton courting Monica. I approach them to engage in a conversation but glancing in my direction, they've all turn in unison and rush back inside. I go in with my codePINK info, which they refuse with great hostility so it's back to the sidewalk to await our Portales fate.
A white womon in her late 30's pushes by me, telling me she refuses to talk with democrats because they are so closed-minded. When she returns from the post office, I try to engage with her – she huffs, preempting a discussion, declaring she is a christian, a republican, and she knows bush is doing a fabulous job. She thinks he should bomb that whole country over there and save our country. This she throws at me as she gets into her vehicle as I wonder whose words she’s rotely regurgitating for hopefully she hasn’t really thought about what that means, murdering so many humans.
I just as authoritatively agree, “Yes, I guess that's what jesus would do too.
I hope I did’t just imagine that I saw her hesitate before flinging open the door and flouncing righteously inside.
We decide the police are taking too long so we go to the college down the road as we've only registered two voters in front of the post office thus far.
At the college, the police immediately spot my truck – hmmmm – and ask what we are doing there. I tell him we're registering voters. He follows us into the student union where we're forced to ask permission to register voters which is of course, denied. But Rae gets to check her email and I get to try to order a latte but no soy milk.
The janitor, sweeping the steps, tells us he registered to vote last week and what a miracle that was – he is a former felon and thought he couldn't vote. I believe it is 'only' 7 states in which felons cannot vote. As we give up on registering voters at this school and walk thru the parking lot, we see a van with a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker. Someone had written in the dust on the car's windows: "bush, bush, bush" so Rae hurried over and put codePINK info under the wipers!
So much for portales – off to Las Cruces – it is Mexican Independence Day and we're hoping to find a celebration where we can register voters and hand out codePINK info. On the way, Rae insists we stop at white sands national park.
As we drive in, the ranger asks us what we are doing? When we retort: “Getting rid of bush!” he whoops, and ducks into his little office to pull out a huge Kerry-Edwards sign! He doesn't let us in for free but his greeting is good enuff for us at this point. We're feeling the hostile vibes of eastern New Mexico seeping thru altho we've received 5 yeahs! and 2 fuck you's thus far.
It is Rosh Hashanah and we're at the Great White Sands park, taking in the spectacular topography and magnificent sunset, as we place our healing touches and sincere apologies to the land that not so long ago was the dreadful “proving ground” and then “missile range”.
Peace and happy new year!