Sister Simone at a Nuns on the Bus event.

Political turmoil in Santa Monica is nothing new. Whether it’s environmentalists fighting for a greener city or the children of our community fighting for gun control, political action here is commonplace. However, nuns in a bus railing against the establishment might be something new in the city.

Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group, will send its Nuns on the Bus to Ocean View Park on Monday, October 8 to embark on a U.S. tour, with Nancy Pelosi in tow for their Santa Monica start.

The group will tour throughout the country to educate voters on what they say is a deceitfully-named Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They’ll also get residents ready for midterm voting, educating them on issues and candidates. At the end of their tour, they’ll arrive at Mar-a-Lago in Florida where they’ll share stories of people affected by this political regime.

Santa Monica-born Sister Simone Campbell, Network’s executive director and Nuns on the Bus spokesperson, took the time to speak to the Daily Press days before she and her sisters embark on their cross-country journey.

Why Santa Monica as a tour starting point?

It’s a city of beauty! The vista overlooking the Pacific is a good metaphor, too– we’ll be overlooking Mar-a-Lago soon, a whole sea-to-shining sea type thing.

But also, Santa Monica… As I understand it, our city has done a lot for the common good, caring for the planet, increasing walkability, those kinds of things. So we wanted to hold up the positive reality of Santa Monica, we wanted to start in a place where there’s a bit more hope, politically.

The focus of the event is about the tax cuts and jobs act, but something new with this administration each day, will other topics be discussed?

Other topics will be discussed. Kavanaugh, the President, all that stuff. We’ll get to ‘em, definitely. We start off with a focus on tax legislation because I think people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about taxes.

But this Tax Cuts and Jobs Act really highlights the partisan nature of what the problem is in our nation, especially with Congress at this point. Republican congress wouldn’t let Democrats see it or send amendments, wouldn’t even let them be involved in the very basic making of the tax bill. Then they rammed it through Congress in 6 weeks.

That’s not right, that’s not who we are as a country. I want to educate people to take notice of these things and stay angry at it.

You’re against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Kavanaugh, and the President. Is it safe to say your group leans Left?

A lot of what we do may sound left-leaning, but it’s more gospel-leaning. (laughs) We’re a gospel-related organization and we take the gospel seriously.

I call myself an equal opportunity annoyer. We bugged the Obama administration on many issues, many times. What we do or protest against is driven by the needs of the marginalized, who we should all be standing with.

This tax cut doesn’t help the marginalized, it only helps the rich get richer. Jesus says the rich will have a harder time getting into heaven, like squeezing a camel through the eye of a needle.

For Santa Monica, I understand the city has issues with homelessness and then there’s housing prices … I don’t think middle-class people can afford a place to live here … Those are issues we fight for. We all just need to get up and care for the ninety-nine percent. It’s simple gospel.

Is there excitement about Nancy Pelosi joining you?

We’re excited that Nancy Pelosi is coming, she has been a champion for the needs of people who are left out for so long. The thing I’ve come to know about Pelosi is she still needs to be supported in order to care for the less fortunate. She’s also a woman of faith, but struggles in this political climate. I want to support her spirit. It’ll be a tour/benefit for both of us.

You’ve been doing this for six years. What makes this year so important?

Midterms (laughs). We realized we’ve got to go on the road and get people fired up. All the Nuns on the Bus events have been important for their issues and reasons, but I’m most impassioned about this one.
[The tour] is a message to the people. It’s us saying, We employ our representatives in Congress. I want to help people do the employee interview. This event and the midterms are our chance, we the people, to change this direction of this country.

The Nuns on the Bus Tax Justice Truth Tour will include 30 Catholic Sisters attending 54 events in 21 states over the course of 27 days on a tour that begins October 8. A full schedule is available at www.nunsonthebus.org/events.

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