Fighting for Peace
Former Rep. Tom Andrews Takes the Helm at Win Without War
He moved into his new office more than six weeks ago, but former Maine Rep. Tom Andrews (D) hasn’t had a spare moment to unpack boxes or hang up pictures yet.
The disarray of his office is indicative of the harried pace of his life since he accepted a position with Win Without War, a national coalition dedicated to the peaceful resolution of the conflict with Iraq.
Up until mid-January, Andrews, 49, spent his life after Congress much like many other former Members — by heading up a consulting organization. In January, he took a leave of absence from New Economy Communications to serve as the national director of Win Without War.
“It’s a broad-based coalition that represents all Americans,” said Andrews. “We are all patriotic mainstream Americans.”
Andrews, who has been working in the private sector since he lost his bid for a Senate seat in 1994, got involved in the coalition through his role as president of New Economy Communications, a nonprofit consulting organization. Organizations from Win Without War approached Andrews and asked him to help develop a strategy for the group. Shortly after, the organization asked him to be their national director.
“What brings us together is the belief that the U.S. is poised to make a terrible mistake,” Andrews said.
The coalition believes it is possible to contain and disarm Iraqi President Saddam Hussein using United Nations inspections and weapons-destruction processes.
On Feb. 26 the coalition staged its largest nationwide demonstration to date, a “Virtual March” on Washington, during which about 500,000 Americans from all 50 states bombarded Senate and White House phone and fax lines with calls and faxes protesting going to war with Iraq.
“We have a network of people nationwide who are very committed to this issue,” said Andrews. “We were more than pleased with the result.”
Andrews is also committed to peaceful resolutions in his other endeavors through New Economy Communications, and he plans to return to his position there after Win Without War is “successful.”
At New Economy, Andrews focuses on working with various organizations to advance human and labor rights. The issues he combats through this group range from campaigning for the abolition of sweatshops and child labor to domestic issues such as working with economists on the impacts of the domestic budget.
“I’ve been able to do a lot of international work and I’ve learned a great deal,” said Andrews. “I can appreciate more than ever how precious democracy is.”
The former Congressman spent seven years serving in the Maine House of Representatives and the state Senate before he successfully ran for Congress in 1990. Andrews served in the 102nd and 103rd Congresses before he ran for Senate in 1994. He lost that bid to now-Sen. Olympia Snowe (R).
“I’ve had the privilege and good fortune to work on issues I care passionately about my whole career,” said Andrews. “Public service is just one way [to make a difference].”
Andrews said he ran for office because he had an interest in national issues and thought he could make a difference. While in Congress he helped sponsor legislation that created a program providing mini-loans to business owners, who he said are traditionally left out when it comes to accessing capital, namely women and minorities.
“One of the most satisfying things [about serving in Congress] is being able to travel the state and meet people who benefited from these [mini-loans],” Andrews said.
Even though Andrews misses the camaraderie he experienced during his time in Congress, he expressed no hesitation when he said he does not plan to run for office again. He said he has learned a great deal in his post-Congress life.
“It’s been a remarkable learning experience about democracy,” said Andrews. “I think we, as Americans, take it for granted.”
His future projects include continuing to work on his current campaign to free Burma from its “brutal” dictatorship and to create a more progressive perspective on issues in the media.
“My plans are to continue doing this work and working on making a difference,” Andrews said.