If the presidential primaries were decided based on candidates' positions on war and peace, the frontrunners would be quite different. Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Bill Richardson would score points for supporting immediate withdrawal from Iraq. John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson would merit consideration based on their pledges to work towards eliminating nuclear weapons.
Of course, this is not going to happen. Other factors will intercede, from positions on other issues to money for advertising. But there is a "peace primary " of another sort, designed to promote organizations that have a long-term commitment to fighting for peace and justice. Without these kinds of organizations, the candidate commitments mentioned above will not mean much.
Sponsored by the Ploughshares Fund, a long-time supporter of work towards nuclear disarmament and other peace issues, the primary has twelve "candidates" -- organizations like the American Friends Service Committee, Peace Action, and Women's Action for New Directions (full listing available at www.peaceprimary.org ).
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The primary is a one-dollar, one-vote affair (i.e., votes are based on contributions to one of the groups, with twenty-five dollars equalling twenty-five votes, for example). The organization receiving the most votes will receive a $100,000 grant from the Ploughshares Fund.
This may seem like small potatoes (paging Dan Quayle -- please spell check this for me!) compared to the tens of millions that are being expended in the presidential primaries. But a little funding goes a long way in the world of non-governmental organizations. Polls close on October 31st -- vote early and often, as they used to say.
William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, is the author of How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy?—A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration
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