Use your Vote to make America better
October 12, 2005
LEWISTON -- Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright told students at Bates College Tuesday that with mass marches on Washington now being ignored by Congress and the media, the most important thing they could do to make America better was to vote.
"If a humongous anti-war demonstration fills the Mall in Washington DC and the mass media ignores it, does it make a sound?" Hay Bright asked students in an address entitled "Changing America" that she gave in the Muskie Archive Building Oct. 11, 2005.
Hay Bright also lambasted the White House's stance on torture, and challenged the accuracy of the "moderate" label that has been applied to Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, whom Hay Bright called a "Bush-enabler."
Hay Bright, a writer and farmer from Dixmont, Maine, noted that between 200,000 and 500,000 political activists had participated in the Sept. 24, 2005 anti-war march on Washington.
"But if you weren't in the march, didn't know someone who was, or did not learn about it from an independent Internet site, you are probably not even aware that this huge and very impressive display of non-violent political dissent even occurred."
In 1963, a march on Washington of similar size was intensely covered nationally and internationally, members of Congress paid attention, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed into law a few months later, Hay Bright said. But, as last month's non-coverage clearly demonstrated, the consolidation of the national media has drastically changed that dynamic.
"Our collective vote is the only effective way we have left to demonstrate both our displeasure and our hope."
Hay Bright urged the students to vote for the America they want to live in.
"If you want to stop the Iraq War, you need to vote for candidates who are opposed to the war. If you want national health care for all Americans, you need to vote for a candidate who has that as a primary legislative target. If you think a Department of Peace makes sense, follow your nose. If you think the minimum wage should be a living wage, that NAFTA and CAFTA are wrecking our manufacturing base, find a candidate who shares your views and work to get out the vote for him or her."
Hay Bright also expressed dismay at the Bush administration's apparent willingness to use torture on detainees.
"Why should the U.S. Senate have to, as it did last week in a 90-9 vote, include an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill that expressly prohibits the military from indulging in the very types of torture forbidden by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948; The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory; AND the binding Convention Against Torture, negotiated by the Reagan administration and ratified by the Senate?" Hay Bright asked.
"And why is the President of the United States threatening to veto that bill if it reaches his desk with that provision? What kind of America are we living in?"
In the Q&A after her talk, Hay Bright noted that, despite the perception of Olympia Snowe as a moderate, she actually votes with the Bush administration on most key issues.
As examples, Hay Bright pointed to Snowe's support for the Iraq War, for tax cuts for the wealthy, for the Patriot Act, for the Nuclear Bunker Buster Program, for the Bankruptcy Bill, for moving class-action lawsuits from state to federal courts, and for confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General and John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
"It's clear if you look at her voting record," Hay Bright said, "that she votes the right way when it doesn't count, and the wrong way when it does."
Hay Bright's appearance on campus was sponsored jointly by the Bates Student Government and the Bates College Democrats.
Click HERE for the complete text of Hay Bright's prepared remarks.
Click HERE for the Sun Journal news report on her talk