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The Baker Momentum: Where To Now?

The Baker Momentum: Where To Now? image The Baker Momentum: Where To Now? image The Baker Momentum: Where To Now? image
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The legacy of an event is the mark that h leaves on those that it touches. The Dean Baker for Congress campaign touched the Uves of thousands of people in Michigan 's 2nd Congressbnal District. F rom a farmer in Lanawee County struggling to keep the farm in the family, to an unemployed mother in Jackson worrying about cuts in social security to a student in Ann Arbor concerned about war atrocities in Nicaragua and El Salvador. However, the people most deeply touched by the campaign were those who gave their time, energy and love in an attempt to realize a dream. "It would be so cool to get someone like Dean in there who was so sincere and wasn't doing it for himself is the way one campaign volunteer expressed this dream. AGENDA spoke to six of the hundreds of volunteers to learn more about what gave the Dean Baker for Congress campaign of 1986 its momentum. George Sallade George Sallade's involvement in Party politics spans four decades. Despite an early association with the Democratie Party, he represented Ann Arbor in Lansing for six years as a Republican because "the Democrats (in 1949) weren't interested in new people. They were more interested in a machine politician than anyone with new ideas." Since then he has run three times for state legislatura as a Democrat and has served many years as chairman of the 2nd congressional Democratie committee. In 1982 he was drafted by the Democratie Party to run against Pursell. "I got 34% of the vote and I had less that 100 workers on the campaign." About the 1986 campaign he notes that "initially I had been for Don Grimes. Don and I had worked together in the Hart camaign and I had considered him an able economist too. I talked to Dean before the primary and told him that of course I would support whoever won. " During the campaign he frequenly met with the leaders, "strategizing and acting as a bridge between the new people on the campaign and the veteran Democratie organization leaders who had not known Dean prior to the (see BAKER MOMENTUM, page 10) campaign worker George Sallade "The gains were to show that it is possible to muster a good issue oriented campaign. This has left the Democratie Party much stronger localty, no doubt about it. " BAKER MOMENTUM George Sallade (cont. f rom page 1) tothecampaign." George reflects that "It was a very well organized campaign - it had a lot of talented people in t with a lot of good ideas . . . not only politica! ideas but campaign techniques as well. I was most impressed by the high intellectual caliber of the volunteers, their dedication and their ntegrity. I just enjoyed working with them." George feels that the campaign will have a lasting effect on the local electoral political scène. "The gains were to show that t is possible to muster a good issue oriented campaign. This has left the Democratie Party much stronger locally, no doubt about it." I hea Lee realized how much she had become immersed in the campaign "when I noticed that I hadn't opened the shades n my room for over a week. It's pretty stressful waking up day in and day out, going straight to the office, staying there until the middle of the night and coming home again." Thea has been discussing running a candidato against Pursell as a form of protest against his votes on U.S. policy in Central America for a long time. "We (in Latin America Solidarity Committee) had gone as far as we could. We knew though that there was much broader support beyond the people who were involved then. We starled thinking about challenging Pursell electotally . . . move away from a complaining, whining role." Though efforts were made to get an established politician n town to run, "we finally settled on Dean because he had the energy. We trusted Dean and he would be as articúlate a spokesperson as anyone in LASC. . . I did consider running myself - tor about 5 minutes," Thea adds whimsically. Thea was campaign co-manager and was involved in all stages of its planning though "canvassing was one of my favorite paris because t was just talking to people about politics every day." Next semester Thea plans on going to China with her family to visit relativos and to Nicaragua to get started on her dissertation for a Ph.D in Economics. "I feel like I need some stimulation from the outsideworld." But Thea's thoughts are still very much with the campaign. "My participation, every minute that I spent was well worth it. I consider it as part of my struggle to stop the war in Central America. We accomplished a lot towards that end." Jean Besanceney Jean Besanceney is a Kappa Alpha Theta at the University of Michigan. When she left home in Pittsburgh two and a half years ago her goals were to "have a career that was oriented around money and success." However, little of what she found made sense. "I joined a bible study class where I thought l'd find some answers to my problems. A lot of the time I couldnt understand how they got the meaning out of it and how it could rule a person's life so I stopped going." Jeans disillusionment surfaced in her politica! outlook too. "Finding out about contra aid made me decide that Reagan was a liar after I voted for him two years ago. I mean, he was just blatantly lying," she adds, partly indignant and partly incredubus. The turning point carne with a class in politica! philosophy which "really made me think. I starled to read letters to the 'Daily' and 'Michigan Review' and compared different opinions." Jean plucked up the courage to march on PurselPs office because she "wanted to see what Pursell would say." But when he didnt appear "I was fired up and angry. I decided to sit in and get arrested. Getting nvolved in the campaign was a natural consequence of being arrested." Jean worked on all phases of the campaign. Her prbrity though was to get fellow Greeks involved in the campaign. "Greeks have a stigma of not being concerned about the world, but that's not necessarily true. The sorority was really supportive of me. I even got flowers from a sister with a note which said "His loss is just as much ours as yours." Acceptance carne from the people in the campaign too. "We celebrated the fact that we worked so hard and that this brought us together. It was one of the first things that I feit a part of and that I had a right to be there." For Jean the struggle has just begun. "I think that things are really serious. Things are changing and you can either stand by and watch or you can be a part of it." Karen Klitz Karen Klitz's children resist any kind of involvement in politics, though they were proud of her when she got arrested in front of Cari Pursell's office in March. Until fairly recently, Karen's involvement in politics has been typical of many Americans. "When I was younger, n high school and college, I feit that the Democrats were trying to help the disadvantaged ... I had great faith when President Kennedy was elected, but I didnt really pay attention until I realized how responsible he was for the arms build up." A couple of years ago Karen got involved with the Latin America Solidarity Committee through a teach-in on campus. Karen realized that "a lot of peole you want to reach are not going to come to any events." She helped organize an effort to raise $2500 for ad in the Detroit Free Press protesting Contra aid. "My nvolvement in the campaign was a banner of the Democratie Party one can knock on a lot of doors and talk to people Karen did a wide assortment of jobs for the campaign, from petitioning to designing brochures, bumper stickers and buttons. Like others she was most intrigued with door to door canvassing. "People were more polite n towns than in Ann Arbor ... I wonder though f any of the people we talked to n Livonia or Jackson will carry anything with them from this brief encounter." In the final analysis for Karen, like many others, the major benefit of the campaign cannot be measured in terms of victory or loss at the polls. "I really feel like a part of the community through working on the campaign. I carne closer to people and dentified common goals and directions." Jane Queller Jane Queller has worked at the University Cellar for the past six years. Working with the unión (IWW), negotiating for contracts and on joint management committees has absorbed most of her political energy. "I dont see politics as disassociated from my life. The store represents a total environment giving me social, emotional cultural and political support. In a sense it is a microcosm of the world." Jane considers the extensión of "democratie structures" in society to be a priority. "THE issue is how people treat each other." The campaign presented an opportunity to Jane to work on the issue outside her job. "I would walk past the office every day and see people working, but feit too shy to go in." At first Jane was tentative in her comittment to the campaign bu after helping out with a mailing she starled going to weekly planning meetings. "They needed someone to coordínate voter registration. I asked for more information and all of a sudden I was committed to it. Eventually the campaign took up all my time outside work ... I wouldnt have missed it for the world." Jane's next job was coordinating the literature drops. "Atter I took on a project, people looked to me like an authority on it. I had also made the assumption that everybody was very experienced. In a sense we were all amateurs, yet t was ncredibly professional." Jane was particularly impressed with how well people on the campaign worked together and the fact that "Dean didn't become a 'special' person. He was an expression of what everybody wanted." She feels that t is important to maintain the energy that was generated by the campaign." We learned how to run a campaign. Even if we never do it again we still have all the skills to do other things with." John Iskra John Iskra was born in Livonia, weaned in Garden City and reared in Warren. He is a child of Michigan. He is 22, and eight semester hours away from a B.S. in Mathematics at the University of Michigan. Stopping the nuclear arms race is highest on John's list of social priorities. All other issues "fade into the background in the face of Nuclear annihilation." However, "If I had my druthers I would be working for economie justice." While John feels that he "tends to the extreme left, (I could be called an Anarchist)," he feels that "from expediency, we dont have time to wart for the working class to develop the revolutionary consciousness to take over the factories." Part of John's role in the campaign was acting as a contact between SANE and the campaign leaders. But he gets most excited when he talks about canvassing in Plymouth. "h was difficult to overeóme regional nepotism; everyone feels they know 'Cari,' they refer to him as 'my friend Cari.' But when you go down his list of votes it would shock people and they would say 'I guess he's not my friend.1" John's major concern with the defeat of the campaign at the polls s that people might "become disaffected and lose interest in doing political work." However John has already begun looking ahead "l'm anxious to apply some of the things I learned from my work w'rth SANE. I may get nvolved with the GE boycott ..." He pauses and adds with a smile, "I also have to see that I finish school." Pursell Watch A series of meetings held since the election by activists in the Dean Baker for Congress campaign has culminated in a commitment to keep an eye on Representativo Cari Pursell's voting record in Washington for the next two years. The work involved in this effort includes reviewing the district's newspapers, writing press releases and conducting mailings. The "Pursell Watch Task Forcé" has been formed for this purpose and wilt be meeting for the first time on Tuesday, December 9 at 7:30 pm in the University of Michigan Student Union. Anyone interested in the task force is encouraged to altend the meeting.


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