California Peace Alliance – Bringing Peace to Politics

Taken after ther CDP endorsed the 2012 platform: Lily Marie, Jim Firth (a delegate who testified on their behalf at the platform committee), Jerilyn Stapleton, Doug and Nancy Merritt

For the past year, the California Peace Alliance has taken peace to the State’s Democratic Party (CDP) with the goals of: 1) infusing the CA Democratic platform — its statement of values — with peace, plank by plank; and 2) seeking the CDP’s endorsement of legislation to create a U.S. Department of Peace (DoP).  At the 2012 CA Democratic convention in February, we did just that as the CDP incorporated most of our proposals into the platform and voted to study establishment of a federal cabinet-level DoP.

During this year, many CDP members have supported our peacebuilding proposals, including CDP Party Chair John Burton who joined us in urging the CDP legislative committee to endorse the Department of Peace legislation, “It’s easy in these challenging times to imagine that the economic and environmental challenges we face are somehow independent of the case of peace.  The truth is, when we reduce and prevent violence we simultaneously help our economy, and our environment, as well as save lives.  We have the know-how; what we lack is the political will and visionary leadership to put peacebuilding at its rightful place:  central to our policy making and national investment.”  (Joint letter from John Burton and the CA Peace Alliance Democratic Endorsement Team, 11/20/2011)

Additionally, nearly one third of the co-sponsor of DoP legislation, which Congressman Dennis Kucinich (OH) has introduced in the U.S. Congress since 2001, are California congress members, including:  Susan Davis, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Janice Hahn, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Brad Sherman, Pete Stark, and Lynn Woolsey.

As a result of our collaborative efforts, the CDP platform preamble embodies a commitment to peace and we successfully negotiated peacebuilding language and related proposals throughout the platform.   The CDP platform now includes CA Peace Alliance proposals relating to:

  • Preamble affirming that the CDP will promote peace, rule of law and human rights by instituting and funding time-tested and cost effective tools and strategies for peace.

  • Children, young adults & their families; education; criminal justice: culture & the arts; veterans; and world peace planks including support of policies that provide mental health services, domestic violence prevention, gang prevention, anti-bullying programs, and parenting skills; peace education and mediation; restorative justice; reducing prison recidivism and making rehabilitation, education certification and job readiness top priorities within our state prison system; nonviolent conflict training and support for veterans; and support of UN Millennium Goals including eradication of hunger and poverty, achievement of universal primary education and promotion and empowerment of women.

  • Business & economy; energy & environment; and agriculture & food safety planks, including: providing low interest start up loans to national defense contractors to convert their products and/or service to meet the needs of a sustainable peacetime economy; encouragement of conservation and sustainability of natural resources to prevent future conflicts regarding scarce resources.

One delegate, advocating on our behalf, testified to the platform committee that the Republican Party is known as the war party and “We want the Democratic party to be the party of peace.”  The CA Peace Alliance works toward a culture that is 100% for peace and wants all parties to embody peace.

The 2012 CA Democratic convention in San Diego was our fourth statewide CDP meeting since the 2011 State convention in Sacramento.  To highlight and mainstream the ideals represented by the DoP legislation to create a culture of peace – both domestically and internationally – the CA Peace Alliance has worked collaboratively to build support within the local and regional CDP clubs and caucuses; though its standing committees including the executive board, the legislative committee, the platform committee, the resolutions committee, and the rules committee; and with individual officials, delegates and CDP members.

We have talked with hundreds of delegates and, to date, have collected 1,088 petition signatures from CDP convention and executive board meeting attendees. We have also met with county and regional Democratic clubs throughout the state.

We succeeded in infusing the CA Democratic platform – the party’s statement of values – with peace at a multitude of levels from individual to family to community to nation to world and in raising awareness about the U.S. Department of Peace.  It has been about the dialogue and growing together to realize a culture of peace.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace.  One must believe in it.  And it isn’t enough to believe in it.  One must work at it.”  We know there is more work to be done.   But we are thrilled with how far we have come.

To find out more about how the California Peace Alliance is making peace possible, contact Nancy Merritt, North California State Coordinator, sunmntain at aol dot com.

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