Barbara Lee

She grew up in Texas on a military base
As a teen in California she found her place
Standing up with those who had got the shorter straw
Speaking out for justice on both sides of the law

She came to my attention in 1998
When she was elected and she joined the ship of state
But it was in her second term when she really made the news
As the sole dissenter, the only one to refuse

Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee
Let me take this chance to thank you for your humanity
Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee

The month was September, 2001
It was time to show the world these colors don’t run
Flags of war were waving from New York to LA
From Shanksville to the Pentagon they chanted “USA”

Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee
Surrounded by such darkness, but still able to see
Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee

The vote came to the Congress to give the president the right
To bomb and to invade any nation in his sights
To kill in any country where his generals want to go
500 voted yes, one woman voted no

Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee
A few hundred more like you, what a nation it could be
Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee
There among the madmen of Washington DC

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“Barbara Lee” originally appeared as an iPhone broadside, and then on the 2014 online album, When I’m Elected President. After I wrote the song, some people in Barbara Lee’s Congressional district (Berkeley, Oakland and thereabouts) pointed out to me that she has voted in favor of the Israeli apartheid state on a number of occasions. Which probably makes her a war criminal, actually. But the day in 2001 when she was the sole voice of sanity in the entire Congress was a day to remember. A terrifying day that almost everyone in the Congress exposed themselves as the sheep they are. Except one woman who spoke up against militarism at this crucial historical moment — Barbara Lee.

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