An hour with Don Manzullo of Illinois’ 16th U.S. Congressional District

Congressman Don Manzullo is a reasonable man. That is how he appeared to our group of peace activists as we met with him recently. Don is interested in sharing what he has accomplished in Congress, and in taking future steps that protect his interests and those of key donors. He is not interested in emotions, perceptions or analysis by visitors, and he told us so. Don heard our concerns, under four headings:

Treatment of veterans

Costs of war

Blackwater, Inc.


For each of our concerns, Don had an answer, with the exception of the subject of Blackwater, Inc., a notorious military subcontractor presently setting up a mercenary training camp in Mt. Carroll. In his voting record, Don has been unsympathetic to the path of peace.

I believe the war has brought us all to the limits of our ability to empathize. Each bit of compassion we wring out feels like it may be our last. We hoard our remaining compassion like fine chocolate, reserving the best of it to bestow on our own selves. What is needed is a world that is not divided into us and them. In this moment I ask, where is Don’s compassionate heart and sense of stewardship, respect for elders, veterans, children, the earth? Don’s compassionate heart was not revealed to us.

Grades for Manzullo

Willingness to meet: C- Hard to access, then easy, then late

Responses: B Answers were mostly prepared.

Truth and openness: D- Blackwater pulled him down here.

Clarity on our issues: F A human’s right to peace?


Incomplete Listening: C Interruptions on Blackwater.

Informed on issues: D Zero for Blackwater or PTSD crisis.

Positioned in D.C.: A Don is a full partner in empire.

Takes care of donors. A+ Especially local military suppliers.

Again and again, Don has asked to serve as our elected representative. During his 13-year career in Congress, America’s best interests have changed, while Don has not. Citizens of our district can be proud that he is not a crook. Don Manzullo is wise and smart. To be sure, he knows this district; it is sad that he did not know the name of the soldier from Freeport, Ill., who committed suicide rather than return to the illegal and immoral war in Iraq that Don has fully supported. Our hour with Don sends a call to our own electorate. When elections come up, do we really want a C- average representative? What about the near quarter-billion Don caused this district to send in support of a failed war?

David Stocker is a teacher and peace activist living in Rockford, Ill.

from the April 4-10, 2007, issue

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