LA CROSSE SAYS YES!
FIFTY-FIVE percent of La Crosse voters said "YES" to the April 4 referendum, "Should the U.S. begin an immediate withdrawal of its troops starting with the National Guard and Reserve?" The final total was 3,614 yes votes and 2,983 no votes. The far south and north sides of La Crosse voted against the referendum with the central city and university area saying yes.
(Please note that George Bush won his election in November 2004, the one that supposedly gives him a mandate to continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely, with 50.7% of the vote.)
Over 30 Wisconsin communities voted on some form of the referendum. Amery, Mt. Horeb, Whitefish Bay and Edgewater all voted "yes" with margins in the 52-54% range. Shorewood's yes vote was 70% of the total. Some communities turned down the advisory referendum. [to be updated]
Many supporters of the La Crosse referendum felt a victory had been achieved before the vote took place. More people are now discussing the Iraq occupation and the administration's and Congress' role in its continuation. More are aware of the tremendous costs of the continuing occupation - to military members and their families and to communities around the country. More have seen that many Iraqis do not feel safe, do not feel as if they have a democracy and believe the United States will occupy their country for decades into the future. The local news media have stepped up in the past three weeks to provide more and better coverage of the issues and we hope they will continue reporting real facts about Iraq and the local impact of the occupation.
The relatively low voter turnout was a big disappointment. About 21% of eligible voters cast ballots in this election, a bit but not much higher than the normal for spring primaries. Nearly 80% of eligible voters stayed home.
The second disappointment is that even though La Crosse voters said, "Stop this war and start bringing our troops home," tomorrow, another $250 million will be spent on bullets, bombs, bribes and who knows what else. Tomorrow more Iraqis will be kidnapped, killed and injured in the "school for terrorists" the U.S. invasion has created in their country. Tomorrow more military men and women will be put in harm's way.
It's a bittersweet victory, winning an advisory referendum. Our fervent hope is that Representative Ron Kind will take note and work to end this occupation. We hope he will demand accountability of funds already appropriated and say no to more off budget, borrowed-money requests for continuing war. We hope that he will work strongly against any attempts by the Bush administration to justify attacking Iran. And we sincerely hope that his colleagues in the U.S. Senate will revive the bill defeated by Republicans last fall to demand a timetable and real plan for quick withdrawal from Iraq.