By Tom Ewell – FCNL Field Committee Clerk
In the coming months, until the end of 2012, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the Pentagon budget. Rarely has the ever-increasing military budget been challenged. But now, during the “lame duck” session between election day in November and the beginning of the new Congress in January 2013, Congress will be required to comply with the debt reduction efforts of the Budget Control Act, amend it, make a decision on whether or not to extend the massive tax cuts to the wealthy, and again face whether or not we will raise the federal debt ceiling. Pentagon spending accounts for almost half of discretionary spending, and serious deficit reduction will be virtually impossible without significant reductions in military spending. The alternative, of course, is that the cuts will come largely from the human needs side of an “austerity” budget.
We at FCNL are calling upon all Quaker lobbyists — and especially those who have never before considered themselves lobbyists — to send a letter or e-mail, or call your Congress person’s office to talk by phone, or, better yet, make an appointment for a personal visit to their district office. Ask that they support cutting the military budget (see www.fcnl.org for background on how the military budget can be cut). Perhaps you will consider supporting each other in your quarterly, yearly or monthly meeting to organize group letter writing, or, again, organize a small representative group to visit your various congressperson’s local district office. In addition, letters to the editor and questioning of candidates during the upcoming Congressional campaigns will also be important. Because of the high importance of this issue, FCNL has prepared a special minute to support this campaign.
Please do not allow your shyness, inexperience or reticence to become a “lobbyist” prevent you from offering your voice in this critical debate. Each voice matters. Even if you think you know that your congressperson has always supported the military in the past and will be unlikely to listen to you, please still make the effort to contact him or her. The political moment and the economic situation are providing an unprecedented opportunity — indeed, a requirement — for change. Friends have a very long history of advocating for disarmament, of course, and your contact with your congressperson at this crucial time will be part of a long-standing witness of our peace testimony against war.