Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen.
This week, we present victories that have been submitted by ourreaders. We read every submission and we encourage readers to keepthem coming (submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org).While these stories may not reflect tectonic shifts in Americanpolitics, it’s our belief that no “Sweet Victory” is too small tocelebrate.
Here in Wisconsin, one of the victories we’re savoring is thesuccessful effort to place “Bring Our Troops Home” referenda on localballots around the state. In 27 towns, villages and cities, citizenscollected sufficient signatures to place a referendum on the ballotfor our April 4, 2006 city and county elections.
Steve BurnsMadison, Wisconsin
Being a liberal Democrat in a red state is a real challenge. Here’sone small victory that I will never forget. As a precinct chairperson,one of my duties on election day November 11, 2004 was to give voters rides to the polls. One voter I assisted (I’ll call him “Martin” for the purposes of this message) was a middle aged African-American gentleman who lived in an assisted living facility and had been dropped off at the wrong poll. “Martin” had been in a very serious accident and survived brain damage and a prolonged coma. He needed a walker to get around, his speech was very slow and garbled, he drooled a bit and his arms and legs still had residual stiffness from neurological injury. It took us a good while to squeeze him into my car and find a space for his walker but we finally made it. We arrived at the correct polling place and again huffed and puffed to get him out of the car and ready to go with his walker. I offered to help him walk in to the polling place but “Martin” said he wanted to do it himself because he liked being independent.
As we were walking toward the entrance, “Martin” told me that this wasthe first time in his life that he had ever voted. And then he added,”I’m voting for all the Democrats because Bush and his kind don’t givea damn about people like me.” When the election workers noticed that”Martin” was a first time voter, they all stood up and applauded himand one by one they shook his hand. One small, sweet victory, in a redcity, in a very red county in the reddest of states.
Candace Flenniken KingSchertz, TX
I doubt that this will be considered a newsworthy victory, but Iwanted to share it with someone, anyone, who might be interested tohear it. Who better than The Nation!
Myself, and a small group of antiwar students protested the presenceof military recruiters at our school (Plymouth State University,Plymouth, NH) today and successfully drove them out–for now, that is.We stood silently, shoulder to shoulder, in front of their table thatwas set up in the main union building. I was in the middle, with asign pinned to my jacket that read: “PSU Wants: Education, NotOccupations.”
I was alone for about the first hour, but was then joined by othersand brought our total to five or six, with the numbers varying as some had to get to class. A small group, yes, but we got the job done. The best part was that the recruiters packed up and left just as a campusofficial was threatening to call the university police on us.
The recruiters will most likely be back, but so will I, and I’m surethe others who were brave enough to stand with me will do so again.Thank you for reading my email, and supporting progressive victories!
Ryan W. McLellanPlymouth State University
The University of Wisconsin chapter of the student-run campus antiwarnetwork, Stop the War, recently won a victory over an investigation bythe Dean of Students office alleging misconduct by the group andthreatening disciplinary action against myself because of my role asgroup contact person. Ultimately the UW dropped the investigationafter being bombarded by complaints from all over the country.
Paul PryseUniversity of Wisconsin
Roger Touissant. Thank God one man stood up and fought for me–ablue-collar working man!
Brian FrakerNew York
The most important victory by far of 2005 was the organizing of thejanitors in Houston, Texas by SEIU. If we can organize in the mostanti-union town in the country, we can do anything.
Sam AbramsCrete, Greece
Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker, contributes to The Nation’s new blog, The Notion, and co-writes Sweet Victories with Katrina vanden Heuvel.