By David Swanson, Let’s Try Democracy.
New Haven, CT, Charlottesville, VA, and Montgomery County, MD, have passed resolutions opposing the Trump budget’s moving of money from everything else to the military, urging that money be moved in the opposite direction.
There are no cuts in the Trump budget proposal. There is the moving of money from everything else to the military. This matters for a number of reasons.
When advocates of “small government” hear nothing but opposition to supposed cuts, they come out in favor of the cuts. This happened at the Charlottesville city council meeting where its resolution was passed. A member of the public spoke up in favor of all the cuts and Trump’s supposedly smaller budget.
Trump has proposed the same size budget as last year’s. If its opponents want to stop it, they will have to admit as much and stop misinforming people that the Trump budget is smaller.
In addition, refusing to oppose any military spending no matter what is, of course, a license for infinite military spending, already topping 60% of discretionary spending in Trump’s budget proposal, not counting future supplemental bills off-the-books likely to take it to 65%. We haven’t seen that since Ronald Reagan lived in the White House.
That military spending endangers us, creates blowback, drains our resources, erodes our rights, destroys our natural environment, and takes funding away from all the good things Trump is proposing to take it away from.
Your town or city or county should get this right. Here are steps you can take:
- Contact worldbeyondwar.org to ask for help
- Form a coalition of local groups concerned about the cuts, the military increase, or both
- Find out how to speak publicly at local government meetings and how to submit a proposal or get one on the agenda for a vote; or ask council members/ aldermen / supervisors to sponsor it.
- Collect organizations’ or prominent people’s or lots of people’s names on a petition
- Hold rallies, press conferences
- Write op-eds, letters, go on radio, tv
- Use http://costofwar.com to calculate local trade-offs
- Revise the draft below:
Resolution Proposed for __________, ___
Whereas President Trump has proposed to move $54 billion from human and environmental spending at home and abroad to military spending[i], bringing military spending to well over 60% of federal discretionary spending[ii],
Whereas part of helping alleviate the refugee crisis should be ending, not escalating, wars that create refugees[iii],
Whereas President Trump himself admits that the enormous military spending of the past 16 years has been disastrous and made us less safe, not safer[iv],
Whereas fractions of the proposed military budget could provide free, top-quality education from pre-school through college[v], end hunger and starvation on earth[vi], convert the U.S. to clean energy[vii], provide clean drinking water everywhere it’s needed on the planet[viii], build fast trains between all major U.S. cities[ix], and double non-military U.S. foreign aid rather than cutting it[x],
Whereas even 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cutting foreign aid[xi],
Whereas a December 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world[xii],
Whereas a United States responsible for providing clean drinking water, schools, medicine, and solar panels to others would be more secure and face far less hostility around the world,
Whereas our environmental and human needs are desperate and urgent,
Whereas the military is itself the greatest consumer of petroleum we have[xiii],
Whereas economists at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst have documented that military spending is an economic drain rather than a jobs program[xiv],
Be it therefore resolved that the ____________ of ___________, ________, urges the United States Congress to move our tax dollars in exactly the opposite direction proposed by the President, from militarism to human and environmental needs.
[i] “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending,” The New York Times, February 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/us/politics/trump-budget-military.html?_r=0
[ii] This does not include another 6% for the discretionary portion of veterans’ care. For a breakdown of discretionary spending in the 2015 budget from the National Priorities Project, see https://www.nationalpriorities.org/campaigns/military-spending-united-states
[iii] “43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes,” World Beyond War, https://worldbeyondwar.org/43-million-people-kicked-homes / “Europe’s Refugee Crisis Was Made in America,” The Nation, https://www.thenation.com/article/europes-refugee-crisis-was-made-in-america
[iv] On February 27, 2017, Trump said, “Almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East . . . $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East . . . and we’re nowhere, actually if you think about it we’re less than nowhere, the Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago, there’s not even a contest . . . we have a hornet’s nest . . . .” http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/02/27/trump_we_spent_6_trillion_in_middle_east_and_we_are_less_than_nowhere_far_worse_than_16_years_ago.html
[v] “Free College: We Can Afford It,” The Washington Post, May 1, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/free-college-we-can-afford-it/2012/05/01/gIQAeFeltT_story.html?utm_term=.9cc6fea3d693
[vi] “The World Only Needs 30 Billion Dollars a Year to Eradicate the Scourge of Hunger,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2008/1000853/index.html
[vii] “Clean Energy Transition Is A $25 Trillion Free Lunch,” Clean Technica, https://cleantechnica.com/2015/11/03/clean-energy-transition-is-a-25-trillion-free-lunch / See also: http://www.solutionaryrail.org
[viii] “Clean Water for a Healthy World,” UN Environment Program, http://www.unwater.org/wwd10/downloads/WWD2010_LOWRES_BROCHURE_EN.pdf
[ix] “Cost of High Speed Rail in China One Third Lower than in Other Countries,” The World Bank, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/07/10/cost-of-high-speed-rail-in-china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries
[x] Non-military U.S. foreign aid is approximately $25 billion, meaning that President Trump would need to cut it by over 200% to find the $54 billion he proposes to add to military spending
[xi] Letter to Congressional leaders, February 27, 2017, http://www.usglc.org/downloads/2017/02/FY18_International_Affairs_Budget_House_Senate.pdf
[xii] See http://www.wingia.com/en/services/about_the_end_of_year_survey/global_results/7/33
[xiii] “Fight Climate Change, Not Wars,” Naomi Klein, http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2009/12/fight-climate-change-not-wars
[xiv] “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update,” Political Economy Research Institute, https://www.peri.umass.edu/publication/item/449-the-u-s-employment-effects-of-military-and-domestic-spending-priorities-2011-update
9. Be prepared for the argument that a national issue is not your locality’s business:
The most common objection to local resolutions on national topics is that it is not a proper role for a locality. This objection is easily refuted. Passing such a resolution is a moment’s work that costs a locality no resources.
Americans are supposed to be directly represented in Congress. Their local and state governments are also supposed to represent them to Congress. A representative in Congress represents over 650,000 people — an impossible task.Most city council members in the United States take an oath of office promising to support the U.S. Constitution. Representing their constituents to higher levels of government is part of how they do that.
Cities and towns routinely and properly send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.
In 1798, the Virginia State Legislature passed a resolution using the words of Thomas Jefferson condemning federal policies penalizing France.
In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) in favor of citizens’ right to place a referendum on the ballot opposing the Vietnam War, ruling: “As representatives of local communities, board of supervisors and city councils have traditionally made declarations of policy on matters of concern to the community whether or not they had power to effectuate such declarations by binding legislation. Indeed, one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known.”
Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol (which includes at least 740 cities), etc. Our democratic republic has a rich tradition of municipal action on national and international issues.
Karen Dolan of Cities for Peace writes: “A prime example of how direct citizen participation through municipal governments has affected both U.S. and world policy is the example of the local divestment campaigns opposing both Apartheid in South Africa and, effectively, the Reagan foreign policy of “constructive engagement” with South Africa. As internal and global pressure was destabilizing the Apartheid government of South Africa, the municipal divestment campaigns in the United States ramped up pressure and helped to push to victory the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. This extraordinary accomplishment was achieved despite a Reagan veto and while the Senate was in Republican hands. The pressure felt by national lawmakers from the 14 U.S. states and close to 100 U.S. cities that had divested from South Africa made the critical difference. Within three weeks of the veto override, IBM and General Motors also announced they were withdrawing from South Africa.”
10. Use this action to form a new World Beyond War chapter.
What residents said to the City Council in Charlottesville, Va.: