Bifurcated Bipartisanship

I love being part of bipartisan organizations, such as the League of Women Voters. It fills my heart with joy to experience Americans crossing political lines to achieve common goals. Such was the intended spirit of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition. Many years ago, I attended a fundraising dinner for this organization at the Shady Maple. At the time, I was a member of the state executive committee of Socialist Party-USA. I felt it was important to support candidates in my party, and others who were marginalized by the petitioning process in our commonwealth, to promote political participation. I put aside my personal political beliefs so that we could all focus on our common belief that all citizens, regardless of political party, should have access to the ballot in Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, others in attendance did not pay attention when the introductory speaker reminded us of the need to put aside our political beliefs for the evening. I sat at the table with a few members of the Constitution Party and one woman went on and on about her feelings on various political issues – some of which I found to be offensive as a Jew and a Native American (not to mention as an American). I was given literature by another political party; I can’t remember which one because I recycled it upon returning home. While these experiences did provide some amusing conversation on the ride home, I was deeply saddened that it was so difficult for people to resist the urge to promote their party at a nonpartisan event.

I am grateful that I have never had such an experience as a board member or volunteer with my local League of Women Voters. I have had some other interesting experiences, but that will be another story for another day.

Changemaker Chat: David McReynolds

David McReynolds is lifelong Socialist Party activist, a pacifist who worked with the War Resisters League from 1960 through 1999, an author of essays, a speaker, and an organizer, with more than a few arrests during actions. He was also the Socialist Party candidate for President in 1980 and 2000 and the chair of War Resisters International for one term. You can learn more about David by visiting www.edgeleft.org.

How did you first become interested in social change?

I suspect I became interesting quite early, in high school, partly as a result of the teachings of the Baptist church I attended, and partly as a result of following events in World War II very closely, and the aftermath of the war.

How do you define social justice?

Social justice would be a society in which, without trying to “level everyone,” there would be no massive concentrations of private wealth and the general population would have decent housing, medical care, and access to education.

What has been your most exciting experience as an activist?

Perhaps the demonstration in Moscow in 1978, opposing both the Soviet and American arms races. Our group demonstration in Red Square as the same moment as fellow pacifists walked onto the White House lawn and unfurled a banner.

What is the most interesting project in which you are currently involved?

Probably trying to sort through the thousands of negatives and prints in order they can be useful to pacifist and socialist historians (photography having been a hobby of mine).

What is your vision for a better world?

Less emphasis on “nation states,” more serious work on disarmament to a police level.

What are your plans for the future?

At 82, there are no extensive plans for the future