How many Americans would pledge to cast their votes in November only for candidates who want to end the war in Iraq?
According to a poll conducted for the new group Voters for Peace, 46 percent of likely voters agree with the pledge the group will be promoting in advance of the November, 2006, congressional elections: "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
One in every five voters surveyed expressed strong agreement, while
26 percent said they were at least somewhat in agreement with the statement.
Among Democrats, agreement with the pledge rises to 67 percent (33 percent strongly). Fifty-nine percent (25 percent strongly) of Independents agree, while and 26 percent (5.5 percent strongly) of Republicans are on board.
"This poll demonstrates that anti-war voters are significant enough in size to effect the outcome of elections -- if they become organized. Just like pro-gun groups have organized, pro-choice and pro-life groups have organized -- now the anti-war constituency has been identified and the peace movement is ready to organize them. This will ensure that the anti-war movement will no longer be one that can be ignored," argues Kevin Zeese, an organizer of the nonpartisan Voters for Peace initiative that launched Friday.
Starting with grants of $1 million for the 2006 election season, Voters for Peace run a national campaign that will encourage voters to pledge to cast their ballots for anti-war candidates as part of a broader effort to educate the electorate about how to make the war an issue this fall. The pledge, which was inspired by a Nation magazine editorial that committed the publication to endorse only candidates who seek a rapid end to the war, can be found at the new group's website: www.VotersForPeace.US.
Already endorsed by many of the country's largest and most active anti-war organizations, including United for Peace and Justice, Peace Action, Not In Our Name, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, AfterDowningStreet and Peace Majority, the Voters for Peace initiative will reach across partisan and ideological lines.
Zeese says the initiative will seek to organize two million voters in 2006 and five million by 2008. And makes a convincing case that such organization could have a profound impact on both elections by putting more focused pressure on both major political parties.
"Organized anti-war voters who pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates may force the Democrats in particular to develop a stronger position against the war. The Democrats may now realize that if they fail to represent the anti-war community voters will stay home or vote for alternative party and independent candidates," explains Zeese, the president of the national group Common Sense for Drug Policy who is seeking Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat as an "independent unity" candidate in November.
"Republicans are not free to ignore the anti-war constituency either," adds Zeese. "Not only do more that 25 percent of Republican voters oppose candidates who support the war, but the fastest growing group of voters -- independents -- overwhelmingly support the pledge. So, that all important swing voter can cause Republicans to lose elections - and could become a new source of support for Democrats -- or if both parties fail to support voters wishes then candidates running independent of the two parties may find a new foundation on which to build an independent political movement."
John Nichols, The Nation's Washington correspondent, has covered progressive politics and activism in the United States and abroad for more than a decade. He is currently the editor of the editorial page of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times. Nichols is the author of two books: It's the Media, Stupid and Jews for Buchanan.
© 2006 The Nation