Two Vagabonds Lobby the US Congress
After leaving the office of the Quaker lobbyists in the hotbed of Washington DC, Chaya and I did not have much of a care in the world for anything, especially politics. We learned a few lessons, but I cannot say that we were inspired by the blue shirted, warheaded lobbyist to actively participate – or even have faith in – the US Government. Then Chaya’s phone rang, and our happy ambivalence was about to be challenged.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- October 30, 2008
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She answered her cellular telephone and spoke in Spanish. I became curious.
“Do you want to go and lobby congress?” she asked me upon hanging up.
“Sure, lets do it,” I answered without any real clue in the world what she was talking about.
Apparently, the phone call was from a group of Maine political organizers from some Sister Cities program who pressure the US Congress on behalf of the people of El Salvador. This group somehow knew that Chaya was in town (maybe she told them, I don’t friggin know) and invited us to charge into Maine congressman, Michael H. Michaud’s, office and kick and scream about El Salvador.
Or at least this is what I thought we would be doing.
Chaya asked if I wanted to help translate. I gurgled some meager response. The Spanish that rattles out of my mouth is good enough to get me across continents, though not good enough to get me across to other people. I knew then that I was going to have to sneak into the rear seat on this venture.
I do not really know how these things happen.
Chaya and I just happened to be standing a block away from the official congressional building, in which Mike Michaud’s office is located, when she got the phone call, so we stormed over to it and through the gates. It was a big, marble white building that stank of sterile governance. After removing all of the metal objects from my body – which is often a big chore – we made it through security. Luckily, I had kept my loaded machine guns at home.
On the other side of security we found a smiling, blueberry white, blond haired young woman from Maine; a lanky, blueberry white, young man from Maine; and two Salvadorian men. We all shook hands. They all smiled at Chaya and looked at me as if I may have been a little weird.
Maybe I was a little weird.
But I was going into Mike Michaud’s congressional office anyway. To these ends, I walked right behind the troupe, rode the elevator to the fourth floor, walked down the hallway passed the offices of congress men of this and that state, and stopped at the door of the man from Maine: Michael H. Michaud.
I was told that Congressman Michaud was a good guy and, for some reason unapparent to me, really cared about El Salvador. I assume that all lobbyist like to believe such rants, but this one may have been valid, for he had provided the Salvadorians with visas to the USA. But anyway, for the record, I think that politicians are androids, and I have not seen evidence to the contrary yet.
The group of Salvadorians, Blueberry Mainers, and Chaya and I stood in a circle in front of Michaud’s door and looked at each other. I looked at myself and was quickly taken aback at how dirty my shirt was. It had shit all over it. I began to wonder if anyone else noticed such things.
We then went into the office and the secretary inside asked something to the effect of, “Who are you?” I wanted to answer that we were the dance party, but I think that went without saying. The Blueberry Mainers took the helm and introduced their organization, saying that they had a meeting with some legislative aide and that they had previously worked with Michaud before. The secretary politely informed us that the legislative aid went to the other side of the world to avoid this meeting and would not return until we had fully dispersed. But, as a consolation prize for coming all the way from Maine, she did provide the lobbyists with stand-in aide to talk at.
The stand-in aide smiled a well manicured robot smile and knew how to sound nice. She also had the privileged position of being able to say that she knew nothing about anything, which seems to me the best stance for a political person.
We were then lead into Michaud’s lyre.
Maine congressman Mike Micaud’s DC office is small, square, and brown. There are small, square, and brown picture frames all over the walls that show congressional people doing congressional things, airplanes, battleships, and flags. I am under the impression that the pictures may have come with the office.
Chaya’s friend, the blond haired Blueberry Mainer, began talking to the legislative aide about issues in El Salvador and what she wanted done about them. The aide listened politely and interjected the words “I know nothing about this issue” in all the appropriate places to make the conversation run smoothly. I took pictures and played with a toy truck that sat on a coffee table next to me. Chaya was genuinely interested, the Salvadorians said lots of thank yous, the lobbyists lobbied, and the aide responded to everyone with, “I know nothing.”
So this is how government works.
The dedicated lobbyists then shook their fists in the air undaunted by the aide’s lack of knowledge: “The 2008 elections in El Salvador will be wrought with fraud! There needs to be a separation between the armed forces and politics in El Salvador! Arrr!” The lobbyists then stood up and bashed in the legislative aide’s chunky pumpkin head with their chairs, as the Salvadorians scooped up her blueberry brains with maiz-flour tortillas and promptly ate them.
It was viva la revolucion! at its finest. What started out as an example of sterile governance soon became a real fiesta.
But in reality, the lobbyists just said a lot of thank yous and offered to give the aide written information about their cause. In reality, the aide said, “There is so much paper that flies on the hill that we don’t know what is going on.”
Now that is something we can all believe in.
How to Lobby Congress
Vagabond Goes to Washington
Travel to DC and Richmond VA
Code Pink Congress Lobbying Washington DC Photos
Speak Badly About the USA
Links to previous travelogue entries:
- How to Lobby Congress
- Vagabond Goes to Washington
- Jocelyn Lieu Interview
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