Friday, November 07, 2008

Thanks for Supporting Peace

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for your support this campaign season. Thanks to your efforts I was able to gather 9,067 votes for peace in the US Senate race. When I began in October of 2007 I did not realize how many friends I would make on the trail and how many people in Tennessee are in support of peace and real human priorities for Tennessee.

It has been a tremendous honor to travel this beautiful state. My campaign began last year in Jonesborough, Tennessee where hundreds of us gathered to call for an end to the production of depleted uranium weapons at the Aerojet facility in Irwin. We learned about the role that Aerojet plays in the production of depleted uranium and how it has caused long- term health problems for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since then I have been to all corners of this state - to Oak Ridge for the Stop the Bombs annual action to call for an end to the remanufacturing of nuclear bombs. We were also in Oak Ridge this year for the Department of Energy Hearings and spoke out in support of putting hundreds of people to work cleaning up the toxic legacy of sixty years of DOE activity in the area. Many of us closed out the year at a conference sponsored by S.E.A.C. at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro where we learned about the interconnectedness of the nuclear issues in this state, where foreign countries ship waste into Tennessee to incinerate, landfill and put into permanent temporary storage facilities.

Thanks also to the support I received this year from Democracy for East Tennessee and the Knoxville Greens as well as students at Heritage High School in Maryville, Tennessee and Kevin Rowland for his efforts. I would also like to recognize the work that so many people are doing in East Tennessee to promote peace and support a progressive agenda, especially members of the GLBT community.

There are so many wonderful people to thank who have offered their support and encouragement for the past thirteen months. I would like to thank the NAACP for hosting the only US Senate debate this season at Austin Peay State University, the Green Party of Middle Tennessee, the Green Party of Tennessee, the Chattanooga Area Greens, Democracy for Tennessee, Scott Banbury for personally securing a visit of Cynthia McKinney to Tennessee to submit her nominations to be on the ballot in as our presidential candidate. I would like to thank John Miglietta who ran a fantastic campaign as the Green Party candidate for the 5th District US House seat and was my constant companion in middle Tennessee as we traveled to neighborhood meetings, festivals, fairs, public events and campaign meetings.

I would like to thank my partner, Nini Thomas, who traveled with me across the state from Memphis to Chattanooga to Jonesborough and all points in between. Nini listened to my speeches, proofread my letters, designed my buttons and brochures and was a constant source of encouragement. I would like to thank the peace activists in Memphis at the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and the Gandhi-King conference, especially Allison Glass and Jacob Flowers for promoting peace through a fantastic conference that brought together hundreds of peace activists from around the world to talk to each other and hear Amy Goodman.

I would like to thank the Nashville Peace and Justice Center for all the good work they do to promote peace and offer a center for community groups to gather and hosting numerous events this year all while fighting a lawsuit and undergoing an audit. I would like to thank the Nashville Movement for letting me flyer at their events this summer to seek justice for taxicab workers, HUD houses for the homeless and a living wage for everyone. These groups did not endorse me and they did not take a position on any candidate because of their non-profit status, but their work for social justice has made Tennessee stronger and I believe in what they are doing.

I would like to thank the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, whose path I crossed many times this campaign season including in Nashville where Sherri Honkala helped lead an occupation of an abandoned HUD house with the Nashville Homeless Power Project, and again at the Republican National Convention protests in St. Paul where I marched with Sherri Honkala and the Green Party of Minnesota and hundreds of protesters demanding economic human rights, and then again in Chattanooga this fall when Sherri came in October and we marched to the doors of the city council with demands to address the needs of the working poor and homeless in Chattanooga.

Thanks also to the folks at Clarksville Online and the activists in the Clarksville area where almost ten percent of all troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are stationed or shipped through, and their long struggle and transformation from Clarksville Freethinkers for Peace and Civil Liberties into their work with Clarksville Online and the Unitarian Church and their collective struggles for peace in the heart of a military town.

I would also like to recognize the work that the Cumberland County Center for Peace and Justice are doing with communities in the plateau region around Monteagle, Sewanee, Tracy City and points beyond as well as the Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. I am so impressed with the efforts of the Peace Roots Alliance and their work, especially Liz Barger and Alan Graf and Judy Meeker and Albert Bates and so many others at the Farm, which has held its space for the past thirty years as a home for peaceful, community seeking individuals. This campaign season I crossed paths with so many different people all of who had a collective vision of peace, social justice, the environment, a living wage, economic justice, the need to address the deep wounds of racism, disarmament, education, alternative energy and more.

I have seen a shift in Tennessee. In 2006 I think that there was much less tolerance for the message of peace and the environment. People seem to be more tolerant and more interested in the message. I think that perhaps this is the beginning of a real shift. I think it will be a long time coming, and perhaps it won't come at all, but I definitely noticed a change. Everyone in Tennessee seemed to be more open minded, more willing to hear differing perspectives this year, more willing to consider alternatives.

Thanks to the Tennessee Alliance for Progress for all the work they are doing to promote a common message in Tennessee and Radio Free Nashville for promoting democracy on the airwaves. Thanks to Middle Tennessee Students for a Democratic Society for all their fantastic work at MTSU and thanks to the folks in Dyersberg, Lexington, Lebanon, Jackson, Hohenwald, Shelbyville, Cookeville, Crossville and other places in rural Tennessee who expressed support this campaign season, especially to Howard & Katey for all the work they do for the Green Party of Tennessee and Catherine Austin Fitts for all the work she does to reclaim our democracy and thanks to the Reverend Larry Fagre of Vetsburg for all his work to support housing for homeless veterans.

Thanks to Cathy Danielson and to Kathi Gregory for her blog Streetalker and Dan and Beverly Sweeton for all their support this year, especially at the Wilson County Fair. I would be remiss if I didn’t also say thanks to my parents for their support as well as Marylin and Ray Williams, Eric Schecter, Glenn Christman, Sandy Hepler, Courtney Meeker, Richard Aberdeen, Ricky Nickolson, Beth Dachowski, Ken and Fle Frasure, Martin Holsinger, Bill Humble, Free Land, Gigi Gaskin, Rhonda Fergus, Joe Shedlock and Sizwe Herring for all of his fantastic work at the Carver Food Park and being an anchor of the community in so many ways.

But I would especially like to thank the Nashville Peace Coalition for all of their support and fantastic work for peace this year, especially organizing the fifth anniversary peace rally and the alternative presidential debate. It was so exciting meeting eight presidential candidates this year and having six of them attend our alternative debate. I can't believe how much work everyone I have met across the state of Tennessee is doing on peace, the environment and other areas of social justice.

I would also like to thank my opponents, the Libertarians, for their spirit of cooperation on many issues including tolerating my many posts on their message boards and for the cooperative work they did with the Greens this year on the ballot access lawsuit as well as coming out for protests against the war, against FISA and turning out for the alternative debate. Daniel Lewis is a man of integrity and it was a pleasure to run against him for the US Senate seat. I would also like to thank the Democrats for their support this campaign season.

Many progressive Democrats were supportive of my running and I wanted to personally thank them, even if I didn’t receive their vote - especially the folks at the L-Club and Democracy for Tennessee who have been so nice and respectful all this campaign season. I would also like to congratulate Bob Tuke on a good run. I was always impressed with his professional approach and happy to see his support on environmental issues in Tennessee.

I don't think I have mentioned all of the people I wanted to thank for their support this campaign season nor all of the national contacts that we have made. If I have omitted someone please forgive me. I just wanted to thank everyone who was supportive this campaign season. The reason that I ran is because it is my hope that we can build a progressive majority in Tennessee

I think the most important thing we need to do is talk to each other. As a candidate I have had an opportunity to meet a lot of communities, and I think one of the principal needs we still have is to get together and network more and let each other know what we are doing. The other need I really see is for us all to come together under one big tent on issues we can all agree on. I think this is possible in Tennessee, but we need to talk more. Really I think more than anything we need to talk to each other and learn who we all are. There are actually a lot of progressive in Tennessee and if we get to know each other then I think we can build a strong movement in this state..

To end I would like to leave you with a letter for your consideration, written by Tom Hayden of Progressive Democrats for America and co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960's. I met Tom this summer at the Democratic National Convention protests in Denver, and he talked about pushing the Democrats from within.

Now is the time to push the incoming administration to bring the troops home and it is the time to push hard. Maybe they will give us what we have been working for six years to end, or maybe they won't. The jury is out. But I will leave you with this letter to consider for our President Elect.

Thanks for your support and best wishes.


Chris Lugo
9 Music Sq So #164
Nashville, TN 37203


Dear President-Elect Obama,

We are deeply moved to address you as our nation’s first African-American president and, we proudly note, the first president whose campaign began with a pledge to an anti-war rally. Your courageous speech in October 2002, provided the rationale momentum that led to victory in Iowa and other Democratic primaries, and we still applaud you for that stand.

We write amidst this exciting week to urge your immediate attention and opposition to the so-called Status of Forces Agreement on Iraq being prepared in secret negotiations by the outgoing Bush Administration. The current United Nations authorization ends December 31st, making it imperative that you take leadership even before being sworn in.

The proposed agreement is a transparent attempt to circumvent Congress and formally bind your Administration to a war and occupation that far exceeds your stated commitment to a 16 month withdrawal of our combat troops. As your own website specifically states, any agreement should include a commitment to begin withdrawing our troops and avoiding any permanent bases. We also believe that thousands of Iraqi detainees should be treated according to human rights norms, or released in the absence of charges or evidence. You also have committed to a role for Congress in affirming any agreement.

Already the Bush administration and Pentagon are threatening “consequences” if the Iraqi parliament fails to endorse this pact.

We believe instead that you should signal your intention to abide by your pledge and work with the Congress immediately to formulate an agreement consistent with your pledge to end this war as rapidly as possible. We propose that you include the withdrawal of all American forces, including trainers and advisers caught in a sectarian crossfire, as recommended by all peace and justice organizations as well as such Washington think tanks as the Center for American Progress.

In place of this counterinsurgency war. we recommend an immediate diplomatic surge, including talks with Iran, as the only alternative to the continuing quagmire in Iraq which now costs our taxpayers some ten billion dollars per month, puts lives needlessly at risk, and stains our national honor.

We realize you will be hearing from all sorts of advocates for prolonging the occupation by one means or another. We urge you to keep the faith with the voices of those who put you on the road to the presidency, by implementing your pledge to end the war in 2009.

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