It turns out we’ve got something extra to celebrate this holiday season. And I want you to know how important you were in ratifying the first major disarmament treaty in decades, because this is a story that begins and ends with you.
It’s people like you who’ve known that the vision of a world without nuclear weapons takes great commitment, but it’s worth working for. You made phone calls, you sent letters and emails, and when it mattered the most, you gave.
And when you supported our efforts, you made it possible for us to bring together hundreds of organizations and thousands of activists in a national coalition to hone our plans for everything from lobbying strategy to media work, and of course, grassroots mobilizing. It’s a good thing, because we had to get two-thirds of the Senate on board to ratify the treaty. That meant getting every Democrat plus at least 8 Republicans – no mean feat in this political climate.
We went up against some pretty daunting opponents, including hard right senators like John Kyl. Also some very powerful and very right-wing organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Liberty Central went full tilt to undermine the treaty. But the amazing thing was, while they had the high-priced ad campaigns and unbelievably cozy relationships with policymakers, we had you, and our grassroots efforts outpaced theirs.
With your support we mounted a huge national phonebank, teaming up with over 50 organizations around the country. We’re still tallying the numbers, but it looks like we generated close to 10,000 phone calls to Republican senators that we knew were on the fence. Throughout the campaign, I heard about Senate Republicans complaining that their phones were ringing off the hook about New START. That sure made me smile.
But like Jon said last week, it was a real nail biter until the end. We needed 8 Republicans to swing our way, but the GOP track record for supporting arms control agreements authored by Democrats has not been great. In fact, the last two Democratic presidents to try to ratify a major arms control treaty were met with defeat. But this time, when the final votes were counted, we got 13 Republicans on board and ratified New START 71 to 26!
So what does all this mean? Russia and the US have 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons. The New START treaty will lead to a 15% reduction in the global arsenal, while building momentum towards deeper reductions. This move by the world’s two largest nuclear powers is a big step towards building a worldwide consensus on nuclear disarmament. Without US and Russian progress there would not have been any possibility of a true global effort on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Now, that dream is still alive.
And none of this would have happened without the support of people just like you. In all the press coverage of the New START treaty, that’s one thing that isn’t getting covered. Behind any victory for peace are people just like you who take action to make it happen.
Of course, our work is never done. The party that brought us two wars, record military spending and designs for new kinds of nuclear weapons will again control half of Congress next year. 98 percent of our work is possible only because people like you chip in at the right time. And this is one of those times. Please click here to give what you can. $40 or more will get you the beautiful 2011 Peace Builders calendar.