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Nader -- Restarting the Anti-War Movement

Political movements require momentum, they need to consistently build and aggregate. When they take a lengthy break from organizing and stop the momentum it is difficult to re-start.
March 14, 2005

During the Vietnam War there was a consistent expansion of anti-war efforts. Every year the movement built and grew. Anti-war activists did not take breaks during election years. In fact, they targeted members of both political parties for their support for the war. Indeed, their work led to a sitting president, Lyndon Johnson, dropping out during the primaries as it became evident the Vietnam War would destroy his chances of re-election. This occurred even though Johnson was elected in what was the largest landslide ever in his previous 1964 campaign. And when that election year was over even Richard Nixon was pressured to announce a withdrawal plan.

The anti-Iraq war movement showed its power before the war putting millions of people in the streets. We were years ahead of the growth of the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era. Now that the Iraq war and occupation have unfolded, all of the predictions of the anti-war movement have come true. Iraq is a quagmire, has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians and more than 1,500 U.S. troops, hundreds of billions of tax dollars are being spent resulting in cuts of many stateside domestic programs. U.S. corporate interests have invaded Iraq and the widespread corruption related to corporate business is being exposed. But yet, the anti-war movement with few exceptions chose not to have a demanding impact on the presidential election and John Kerry.

The Iraq War and occupation have made the United States less secure. CIA Director Porter Goss testified before Congress this February saying that Iraq has become a training ground for terrorists, saying: "Those Jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transitional terrorist cells, groups and networks." This analysis is consistent with the findings of government reports and comments of intelligence officials. Yet, the anti-war movement failed to make this point during the election giving both major parties a free ride for their support of a war that makes us less secure.

Military intelligence, active and retired, as well as repeated documented exposes have found no WMDs, no Saddam-Al Qaeda or 9/11 connections and no threat to his more powerful neighbors from his tottering dictatorship with a dilapidated army unwilling to fight for him. Yet the silence of the anti-war movement during the election allowed both parties to avoid criticism for their support of the war based on false information.

The U.S. is poorer, less safe, and less respected because of the Iraq War.

If the peace movement had continued to advocate for an end to the war during the presidential election year, rather than remaining silent where would be today? We would have built on the successes of our beginnings rather than having to start anew. We'd be nearer the end of the war-occupation, not farther from it. President Bush would be on the defensive, not on the offensive. Iraqis would be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, when they would get their country and economy back, rather than the darkness of continued occupation.

How does the anti-war movement recover from this lost momentum? There is much work to do to respond to this question; but it can be done because the people can have the power to make it happen.

Ralph Nader is a citizen advocate who has worked on a wide range of issues including civic skills, environmentalism, control of corporations and election reform. He has worked against the Iraq War since 2002.

Nader will be one of three people authoring a blog on Democracy Rising focused on their "Stop the War" campaign. (See:  http://www.DemocracyRising.US). People can comment on the Nader blog on the site. In addition, Kevin Zeese, a director of Democracy Rising, authors a blog, the first one focusing on Iraq being worse off two years after the war; and Virginia Rodino, another organizer of Democracy Rising and a member of the steering committee of United for Peace and Justice, authors a blog focused on the strategy and tactics of the anti-war movement.

homepage: homepage: http://www.DemocracyRising.US

EXCELLENT 15.Mar.2005 22:13

Progressive Democrat

Focus on the war. Do the right thing.

I don't have any better idea.

Thanks for the link --  http://www.DemocracyRising.US/

anti-war 16.Mar.2005 11:38

string on your finger

keep in your mind at all times what war does to CHILDREN

NO DEM 17.Mar.2005 11:32


Hey George! I'm no Demo! Plus I've accomplished PLENTY in my life, despite your arrogant assumptions. Here you are defending a guy who couldn't get 1% of the vote last election. I appreciate the symbolism of Ralph's candidancy, but his delivery, as they say in Baseball, is off. I'm not advocating he jump off a skyscraper or anything. How about him and Aston from MTV's 'Punked' as a team? They could punk Democrats all over D.C. and attract some attention instead of having his groupies post free articles on IMC's. Nader always needed an Abbie Hoffman sort of component. Something to connect with the world outside of the East Coast/D.C. bureaucracy. I agree with a lot of what Ralph says, but as a candidate? Maybe for Fire Inspector. Sorry if I'm pissing you off.

Socialists 17.Mar.2005 11:37

my depressed two cents

I don't think dems chose Kerry as much as cnn, faux, and the rest anihilated Dean. We have so many forces against us, I think we all better get behind one cause, getting rid of Bushistas, and call our political party that. Some kind of Socialist theme.

Mouse 17.Mar.2005 23:08

George Bender

"Here you are defending a guy who couldn't get 1% of the vote last election."

I'm not defending Nader, who needs no defense, especially against the likes of you. I'm attacking you for delivering an emotional incoherent illogical fart whenever you hear Nader's name, and getting your facts wrong, instead of bothering to understand what he's saying. If you can't learn or think, why should we pay any attention to your opinion? An argument is composed of facts and logic, not your crappy feelings. A lot of people who post to Portland Indymedia don't seem to understand that.

As for Nader's vote totals in the last election, who on the left could have done any better? We have no one else with Nader's record, credibility, intelligence, skill, name recognition and stature -- all of which matter in the real world. He got less than 1% of the vote because almost all of the left deserted him and voted for Kerry, simply because they were afraid of Bush. And lost the election. So we not only got four more years of Bush, but they sent a message that the leaders of the Democratic party do not have to pay any attention to the left. Because we will always roll over and play dead.

The only alternative you propose seems to be to turn the leftist candidate into a joke. I'm not interested in that. Politics is not performance art. Hunter Thompson has left the building.

"Something to connect with the world outside of the East Coast/D.C. bureaucracy."

Nader was able to pull almost 1,000 people to a public meeting in Portland. He filled the McDonald theater in Eugene. Who do you know on the left who could do that?

Hey, George 18.Mar.2005 03:35


I wish to point out that "collective action" is not the same as "follow a leader". In fact, some people believe that "collective action" means people decide together _what_to_do_ rather than who to follow. It's messy, certainly. However, once you get it going, people tend not to grab their marbles and go home, when they get bored, or when it looks like there's work to do.

That said, I think we agree, it is what people do or don't do, rather than who they do or don't follow.

I gather you think people _also_ need somebody to follow. I disagree with that (as I expressed it). However, if we are all going in the same direction, and you make sure he does too, I see no harm in your making Nader walk in front of you.

Likewise, no accounting for taste, if Nony wants to walk behind somebody else, and is willing to make them walk in the right direction, I see no harm in that either.

That's assuming, of course, you and I and Nony want to walk in the same direction. If Nony, for example, wants to go in a different direction, she/he would be silly to walk behind your Nader, and equally silly to insist you walk behind her/his drummer-kid.

It seems to me that, before we discuss who walks in front, we should talk about where we want to go.

If they are different directions, or perhaps different paths, we don't need to waste time and goodwill choosing drummers. You could choose Nader. Nony could choose whoever he/she wants. And I, it's unworthy, I know.. I was thinking.. if I am allowed to carry a sharp stick, there is a person or two, whom I wouldn't mind having in front instead of behind me.