I had always been somewhat politically active. By the time I was in third grade, I knew that I was not like other boys that were always playing war or with their army men. I knew even at that age that I had no desire to be in the military. I had no desire to be a soldier.
By the time I was 18. the country was embroiled in the Vietnam fiasco. One friend went to Canada. Others tried to get student deferments. Some went and came back totally changed. Mom and George talked about buying property in Mexico at one point and I think that was considered as a possibility if Roger or I was called up to serve.
In those days, there was a “draft.” That meant that if you were male, when you were 18, you had to sign up with the local draft board. Then there was a lottery to see who would actually have to serve. Long before I turned 18, I was already working on my “Conscientious Objector” status and had written several supporting documents for the draft board. I was clear in my belief that killing was wrong. I became an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. I had a letter from the founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, Troy Perry, supporting my case for C.O. status. I attended every war protest march that I could and kept a record of those activities.
When I turned 18, I had to go before the San Diego draft board to plead my case for C.O. status. I remember there being six men in the room and I had to tell them why I could not serve in the military. It was very stressful, as I had always had problems with public speaking, but apparently I made a good case and was given the Conscientious Objector status.
Down through the years, I always voted. Once, I got lulled into the “third party” mirage and made the error of voting for Anderson instead of Carter. Looking back on that, I realize how stupid it was, but at the time, I somehow got convinced that voting for Anderson was a viable alternative. Pf course, all it accomplished was splitting up the Democratic vote. Reagan won that election and went on to do a lot of damage to the country that we would be living with for the next thirty years. I realized the folly of voting third party and have stayed with the Democratic party ever since.
I have probably always been a little more to the left than the Democratic party. I have always been proud to be “liberal” and refer to myself as “progressive.” In San Francisco, I marched against the first Gulf War and every war since. I did phone banking for Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. I was very disappointed when Gore withdrew from the recount and let the Supreme Court hand over the election to Bush. I think Gore made a big mistake when he distanced himself from the great economic Clinton policies and record. I think he made a huge mistake to acquiesce to the Supreme Court decision and didn’t fight harder.
The first four years of the W. Bush administration brought us the horrors of the twin towers falling and it was evident that the Bush and Cheney administration had a been asleep at the wheel. Then they steered us into the second Gulf war in Iraq. Eventually they would bring the country to the brink of another Great Depression.
After 9/11/2001 and the twin towers fell, Bush and Cheney, chicken-hawks that they were, started rattling the war sabers and lying about weapons of mass destruction. There were many of us that knew from the beginning that this was all a ruse. There was a meeting called together in Vallejo of anti-war activists and the group came to be called The Solano Peace and Justice Coalition. One of the church members from First Christian Church had gone to that first meeting and invited me to the second meeting. I would participate in the group and do their website for the next few years.
Many in S.P.J.C. were further to the left of me in many ways. Many of them identified themselves as “Green Party.” In 2000, many of them had advocated for Ralph Nader. They would make all these erroneous claims about the Democrats being too much like the Republicans. It was ludicrous to hear some of them say there was no difference between the Republicans and Democrats. Their proclamations did more for the Republican party than advancing any agenda for progressives. To this day, I believe that the main reason the 2000 election was as tight as it was, was because of Ralph Nader siphoning off votes from the Democratic party. Ralph Nader and the Green Party on a national level were totally counterproductive.
Eventually, S.P.J.C. kind of petered our. People lost interest as the Afghanistan and Iraq wars continued on. Toward the last year of the group. there were only a small handful of the most dedicated members still attending. Other’s would send emails making all kinds of suggestions but did not follow through with any attendance. At the end, there were only four of us that really participated at all. We did several episodes for Community Access T.V. in Vallejo.
Here are some pics and videos from the Solano Peace and Justice Coalition era of my life and a couple of other protests after SPJC had disbanded. :