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From Total Frustration to Action (It Feels So Good!):
How I Started the South Florida Impeachment Coalition
Editors' Note: Activism is hard, slogging work, and not
always successful. We thought our readers might like to read one
huge success story, the formation of one of the nation's leading
impeachment groups. Here is one activist's recipe for how to set
up a successful anti-CheneyBush pressure coalition.
I have been engaged in Bush-bashing since 1999. I first got on the
impeachment page in 2004 when I read my Senator Bob Graham's book
Intelligence Matters. Graham was Chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee and was one of a small number of Senators who voted
against giving Bush the authority to invade Iraq. In his book,
Graham listed eleven grounds for Bush's removal of office.
Last spring I received an email from Jacob Park. Jacob started a
website called A28.org. April 28th had been designated as a National
Day of Impeachment by Jacob and others. But, if you are not a
devotee of the internet or constantly listening to progressive talk
radio, you would not have known about April 28th. I became the Miami
area contact for the event and I contacted a few of my activist
friends about participating in some way on that day. A few weeks
before the 28th, we learned that George W. Bush had been invited to
speak at commencement at Miami Dade College Kendall campus, located
a hop, skip and a jump from my house. Miami then became Ground Zero
for April 28th. I began receiving emails from all over the state
from impeachment enthusiasts who wanted to express their disgust
with Bush when he came to Miami.
A THOUSAND PEOPLE IN THE STREET
On April 28th at 3 p.m., I walked out to 107th Ave., the street just
east of the college. My husband and I have lived in this
neighborhood for 40 years. I got goose bumps. There were protesters
on both sides of this busy street, holding up signs and chanting.
The cars going by went crazy with shouts of support and honking
horns. The signs were about impeachment and Iraq. Close to 1,000
formerly closeted patriots came out that day, mainly from South
Florida, but some traveling from as far as Tampa....
In July, the Shrub commuted Scooter Libby's sentence. That was the
tipping point for me. I listen to Ed Schultz on our progressive talk
radio station. Maybe eight months prior, Ed was blowing off callers
who talked about impeachment. Suddenly Ed was onboard. On July 13th,
I watched Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS. His guests were two
Constitutional experts, conservative Bruce Fein and liberal John
Nichols. I was convinced after listening that if the Constitution is
not enforced by the Democratically controlled Congress against
members of the Bush Crime Family in 2007-2008, Bush was right when
he referred to the Constitution as a "goddamn piece of paper."
In late July, two things happened. A mutual friend and activist
wrote an email to me and to a Green Party member. The email said,
"Diane, meet Alan; Alan meet Diane." The second thing that got me
started was something my son, a Silicon Valley guy with a Ph.D. in
mechanical engineering from Stanford, said to me. I often ask him if
we can help out financially so that my daughter-in-law can be a
stay-at-home mom with our soon-to-be two granddaughters. My son, a
very independent man, said, "Mom, why don't you spend your money on
something you enjoy?" So, I decided that I would enjoy nothing
better than to help get the two evildoers impeached!
Alan turned out to be a talented graphic and website designer, who
is passionate about the Constitution and scared about the future of
our country. Fronting the money for the Coalition has been minimally
expensive. Had I needed to hire a website designer and webmaster,
that would have been a lot more expensive, but I would have spent it
gladly. However, having someone involved in the cause is so much
I learned that in order to open a checking account for any
organization, I would have to form a non-profit through the State of
Florida's Secretary of State's office. That is done easily on the
internet at a charge of $75.
THE COALITION GROWS
Because I had kept the email addresses of many of the people who
came down here to protest in April, I emailed those people as well
as every activist and politically active organization with whom I
had contact. I called a meeting of about six impeachment enthusiasts
at our home in late July and the South Florida Impeachment Coalition
was formed by what we refer to as the "Organizers." This core group
consists of three Green Party members, two or three disgruntled
Democrats and one veteran of the anti-Viet Nam movement, Rucy, who
demonstrated back then with Dr. Spock. Rucy was disgusted and
discouraged and about to give up and drop out of activism, but is
rejuvenated with SFIC activities. We brainstormed and set goals. Our
main goal was to take the "I" word out of the closet and make it a
household word in South Florida. Our contact list grows with people
signing up at every event.
We have since concentrated much effort on lobbying the district
offices of eight members of Congress, including three Rethugs. Each
lobbying appointment was made by a constituent of that particular
legislator and I came along with a package of documents that should
convince anyone but Cheney and Bush that that member of Congress
should co-sponsor H. Res. 333, Articles of Impeachment against
Richard B. Cheney. We ask for a yes or no on co-sponsorship to be
provided in writing within a few weeks.
So far, we have received written nays from two Rethugs and one form
letter with pitiful excuses for not impeaching, i.e., more important
legislation to be passed, impeachment is divisive, costly, blah,
blah blah (excuse me while I gag). This sorry reply came from
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents a
predominantly liberal Democratic district. This lady doesn't know
what she's talking about. Debbie, a very new Congresswoman, is a
favorite of Nancy Pelosi, who put her on the House Judiciary
PRESSURING YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Debbie maxed out when she boldly berated Congress for interfering in
the Terry Schiavo matter. She then voted to support Bush's
un-family-friendly travel ban that says that Cubans can only visit
their relatives on the island once every three years, even if the
relative is dying. There was no good reason for her to vote this way
because her district can't possibly include the fanatical anti-Fidel
Cuban exiles and, even if it did, they would never vote for a
Democrat, even for dog catcher. She then voted for war funding last
May. Shortly after that vote, she held a Town Hall meeting.
Approximately 300 anti-war protesters attended, there was a lot of
shouting and sign carrying and she was pretty shook up by the lack
of acceptance of this formerly golden girl who represents parts of
Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.
We are planning a demonstration against Debbie on October 25th. If I
could put her over my grandmotherly knee and spank her (like we used
to do in the '60s), I would. Instead of representing her
constituents, she is pandering to Pelosi and hoping for a future
climb to power in the House. Might I add that the Democrats are
doing as much to shred the Constitution as are Cheney and Bush?
We will also be demonstrating against Democratic Congressman
Kendrick Meek, who never bothered to respond to his constituent's
lobbying effort with an answer on co-sponsoring H. Res. 333. Meek
represents a lot of Haitians and other poor people. If they had the
time or knowledge to pay attention to how their Congressman votes,
he would be in big trouble, but they are too busy trying to put food
on the table.
If there is time, we'll demonstrate against the Republicans as well.
Better yet for them, there are now actual viable opponents for the
three Republicans who represent the lower part of our state and I
think they may all go down come November '08. This will be justly
deserved as they have supported Bush for many years and their recent
refusal to override his SCHIP veto was the final straw for many
voters, including Republicans.
We will continue to pursue several Democratic members of Congress
and try to convince them to fulfill their oaths of office (to defend
the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic)
instead of listening to the Democratic leadership, who apparently
can't connect the dots between bringing our troops home and using
the tools provided in our beautifully written Constitution to get
rid of the war criminals in the White House.
ACTIVIST DAVID SWANSON ON THE SCENE
In addition to lobbying, SFIC had a kickoff rally in conjunction
with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Two hundred patriots
showed up in response to emails, flyers, and our wonderful 940 AM
morning talk show hostess Nicole Sandler. Nicole has pledged to talk
about impeachment on her 3-hour show whenever possible and she
introduced our guest speaker at the Rally. We flew David Swanson (www.afterdowningstreet.org)
to Miami for the day on 9/15 and he delivered a very strong message
on why we must impeach and included all the arguments the nay-sayers
use with intelligent comebacks from impeachment enthusiasts.
We co-sponsored, with a local bookstore, a speech by John Nichols,
Constitutional expert and journalist with The Nation Magazine. About
100 believers came out in rush hour traffic on a rainy night in
Coral Gables to hear John. They came away with hope that we can get
this thing done despite our pathetic national Democratic "leaders."
There is a link to the Bill Moyers piece and videos of the Swanson
and Nichols speeches on our website
And let me put in a plug for Nichols' excellent book, The Genius of
Impeachment. Some other tactics we have already used and have
*An impromptu "Honk to Impeach Cheney" demonstration in O.J.
Simpson's driveway while all of tabloid media were camped out in
90-degree weather just waiting for the criminal to appear even
though we all know that the real killers reside in the White House.
* "Visibility" events where we have seven people carrying placards
spelling out the word IMPEACH and one for good measure holding up a
sign with our website name.
* Leafleting outside all presidential candidate fundraisers.
* Selling Impeach Bush and Cheney tee-shirts.
* Protesting a speech by John Conyers at the U. of Miami on November
* A table at the Miami Book Fair selling tee-shirts and the Nichols
* Participation in national impeachment strategy phone conference
with Progressive Democrats of America.
* Meetings with various groups, including the ACLU and NAACP, and,
yes, the Florida Democratic Party (we already have the local Dems
onboard) to convince them to endorse impeachment.
* A motorcade with cars decorated with impeachment signs fanning out
to the various media outlets; parking there and going in to ask for
a cameraman (if the media won't come to us, we'll go to them
Additionally, most of us, when contacted by phone to donate to any
presidential candidate, the DCCC, the SCCC, Emily's List, and
others, simply say that we are not donating anymore until that
person or organization comes out for impeachment. Ditto when we
receive mail solicitations -- scrawl "No money until you impeach" on
the insert and return it in their postage paid envelopes.
In addition to a website designer, it would be very helpful to
anyone contemplating the formation of a group to promote
impeachment, to have leaders with ideas, energy and no day job.
Proficiency on the computer is equally important. I would be very
glad, time permitting, to forward via email our model for an
impeachment lobbying packet and answer questions via email from
anyone endeavoring to form an impeachment coalition. Email me at
Every 10 minutes an Iraqi civilian is killed in a war that George
Bush says will not end until he leaves office.
Every 10 hours an American soldier is killed in a war that George
Bush says will not end until he leaves office.
Every 10 days $2 billion is removed from the U.S. Treasury and
placed in the accounts of Halliburton, Blackwater and all other war
profiteers that are getting rich off the misery of Iraqis and
Americans by a government that will continue to remove those amounts
or more every ten days as long as George Bush is President of the
In summary, as you can see from the above, the point is that anyone
can put together an effective activist group. Just use the energy
and talents of dedicated people -- and there are plenty of angry,
frustrated citizens anxious to work to restore our government to its
Draw your group together, from your various contacts and mailing
lists, and learn how to create media events, how to pressure your
elected representatives, how to build your organization.
Just do it! America will be grateful and you will feel good about