VACAVILLE — A statement by Cindy Sheehan addressing Seattle activists as “comrades” involves a very egalitarian word, says a Peace and Freedom Party representative who says affection for the term has nothing to do with its use by “old Commies.”
“It’s a word that’s in occasional use,” Toni Novak, a member of the central committee for the Peace and Freedom Party in Sonoma County, said of comrade.
Vacaville resident Sheehan, who is running for governor as a Peace and Freedom candidate, includes on her blog a statement about the recent 15 Now kickoff rally in Seattle to support a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
“Dear friends and comrades,” Sheehan writes, “I send you greetings from California and also congratulate you again on your wonderful victory (Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant) in Seattle!”
She later writes about her hope for “total worker control of the workplace” and lists herself as a Socialist candidate for governor of California.
Dede Miller, Sheehan’s press representative, said “comrade” is sometimes used in correspondence but that Peace and Freedom Party members don’t walk up to each other on the street and call one another comrades. Peace and Freedom, Miller said, is a socialist party and part of its purpose is to let people know “that’s not a bad thing.”
Sheehan could not be reached for comment.
Colleen Britton, president of the Vaca Valley Tea Party, said of the comrade reference in Sheehan’s “I send you greetings from California” statement: “The sad part is that I don’t think it’s a parody.”
“I think she buys into that,” Britton said.
Peace and Freedom Party member Novak said most people don’t even remember the Cold War-era use of the word “comrade.” The context of words changes, she said, noting that “now the right occasionally accuses the left of McCarthyism” – a term originally used by critics of anti-Communist Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Much of the past is lost, said Novak, who spoke of visiting a Sonoma County High School about 30 years ago where she talked about the Vietnam War and realized the students knew little about the war.
“We don’t teach history very well anymore,” Novak said.
Sheehan is a peace activist, author and podcast host. Her oldest son Casey enlisted in the Army as a 20-year-old in 2000 and volunteered to join a rescue mission while serving as a mechanic attached to the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq, where he was killed April 4, 2004.
Sheehan is running against Gov. Jerry Brown – who has yet to announce a re-election bid. She said her strategy is a second-place finish in the June primary that would leave her and Brown facing off in the November election.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.