That’s what we’ve been asking people to say at our Phone-A-Thons recently. It’s not easy. We stand on a busy sidewalk and ask passersby to call Congress on the spot using our cell phones. (You can find a Phone-A-Thon recipe here.) The amazing thing is that some people actually do stop and make the call. A few of us have gotten hooked on this grassroots action because of these lovely, shy, first-time callers.
There was the man who had just become a citizen and was carrying his papers home. He took the time to make a call to his senator. His message: Stop the war by stopping the funding. It wasn’t so much what he said, as the look of quiet pride on his face as he closed the phone at the end of the call. On another day, a police officer had been watching over us for an hour and a half. As we were packing up, he came up to us and said he had served in the Army in Afghanistan. Then he thanked us and told us we were doing a good thing.
A lot of people are afraid when they make that first call to Congress. They know what they want – to end the occupation of Iraq and get the troops home safely, but they can hardly get the words out. So we have scripts to help them. We hit the streets in May 2007 with “Stop the war by stopping the funding. Fund only the safe withdrawal of the troops.” We also tried “Support House Resolution 333 to impeach Vice President Cheney.” That one didn’t go over so well. People didn’t want to say it, so we dropped it for a while. Then in August we brought it out again and people were ready. They said, “Yes! Impeach them both!â” over and over again.
In February we launched a new message. We’d been following a lively debate on the United For Peace and Justice legislative discussion list and decided to add filibuster to our message because:
41 Senators can end the occupation of Iraq.
Then we began our struggle to get a script that would work at Phone-A-Thons. We sent a message to the UFPJ legislative list asking for a simple script. David Swanson of After Downing Street sent an excellent one – the basis of our new flyer downloadable from our Phone-A-Thon page.
“Commit now to filibustering any bill that funds the occupation of Iraq.”
“And, announce publicly you will vote NO on cloture on any such bill.”
The flyer is great for some people but the script is too hard for others, so we wrote another that we wear on our chests:
- Tell them who you are.
- Tell the senator to filibuster any bill that funds the war in Iraq.
- And, tell the senator to vote NO on cloture on any such bill.
- 41 senators can stop the war by stopping the funding.
We must add one line. “Fund only the safe withdrawal of the troops.” People tell us they are afraid of what would happen to the troops if Congress just stopped the funding. And we may have to take out the “Vote NO on cloture” line. People are tripping over it.
Okay now try saying very fast five times:
“Tell the senator to commit now to filibustering any bill that funds the occupation of Iraq.”
Ready to make the call? Congressional switchboard toll free – 800-828-0498
– Eva-Lee Baird