WASHINGTON, March 17 – Anti-war leaders from across the ideological spectrum launched a new non-partisan anti-war group called VotersForPeace on the eve of the third anniversary of the Iraq War’s start, to highlight growing public opposition to the war and other wars of aggression among disaffected Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. The effort has been endorsed by the largest anti-war groups in the United States.
The group seeks to educate, organize and activate anti-war voters. VotersForPeace announced its goal of collecting 5 million signatures on a pledge by U.S. voters not to support any candidate for Congress or President who doesn’t call for a “speedy end” to the war and to oppose future wars of aggression. The goal is to collect 2 million of those signatures by Election Day this November, backed by $1 million in initial pledges and a new website at www.VotersforPeace.US.
The group released a new poll showing that 45.9 percent of registered voters at least somewhat agree with such a pledge, with 20.1 percent saying that they strongly agree with it. The pledge tested was:
“I will not vote for or support any candidate for President or Congress 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.”
Even among Republicans, 25.7 percent at least somewhat agree, with 5.5 percent saying they strongly agree. And among Independents, the fastest-growing group of voters, 59.2 percent agree, with 25.3 percent saying they strongly agree.
The poll of 856 registered voters was conducted by telephone March 9 to 13, 2006, by respected survey firm ICR Survey Research of Media, Pa., which also polls for ABC News and The Washington Post. The margin of error is +/- 3.35%.
The first signature on the pledge is that of Michael Berg, father of Nick Berg, the U.S. civilian who was beheaded in Iraq. He signed the pledge and spoke at the National Press Club today, joining a panel of other founders of Voters for Peace. Also appearing with Berg were:
Kara Hopkins, editor, American Conservative magazine
Kevin Martin, executive director, Peace Action
Sue Udry, legislative action coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
Kevin Zeese, director, Democracy Rising
Bill Scheurer, editor, The PeaceMajority Report
Linda Schade, spokesperson for VotersForPeace.US
A recent Zogby poll of active-duty troops in Iraq found nearly three quarters want to end the occupation within a year, although the U.S. administration has tried to claim that progress is being made there. “When policymakers distort the facts and manipulate public opinion to justify wars of aggression in our name, it is the public’s right and duty to speak out and act,” said Linda Schade, an advisor and spokesperson for VotersForPeace.
“As more and more information is revealed about the decisions leading up to the Iraq war, we have a stronger opportunity to ‘teach peace’ in a meaningful new way,” Schade said. “People of all political persuasions are coming together in this effort to organize anti-war voters.”
Michael Berg, whose son Nick was found dead in Iraq on May 8, 2003, said, “Too many candidates think they can mumble excuses and change the subject, but voters won’t let them get away with that.”
Sue Udry, the Washington representative for United for Peace and Justice – a nationwide umbrella group of some 1,400 local and national anti-war groups – pointed out that in the last three years, over 2,300 American troops have lost their lives, an untold number of Iraqi civilians have died (estimates are from 30,000 to over 100,000), and the U.S. has spent over $250 billion on the war.
“And yet there is no end in sight to the war in Iraq,” Udry said. "Most members of Congress are ducking their responsibility on the Iraq War, afraid to even tell their constituents where they stand. And the President answers our concerns with P.R. and platitudes. Americans are fed up, and millions of us have the courage to stand up and say it is time to bring the troops home – now. We’re ready to welcome them home.”
VotersForPeace has $1 million pledged for startup funding, and is developing both an educational project and a 501c(4) organization for promoting an end to wars of aggression. Its voter pledge will appear at www.VotersForPeace.US.
The VotersForPeace website will have regularly updated “Iraq War Facts” to give citizens the news they can use to take this debate into their local communities and ask candidates about it. VotersForPeace will also engage in national advertising campaigns on the web and in print media, to educate the public.
“The war in Iraq has hurt our security, fostered terrorism, and fomented worldwide anger towards the U.S.,” said Kevin Zeese, director of DemocracyRising.US and one of the founders of the effort. “Voters have the power to end the Iraq occupation and prevent future wars of aggression if they are educated, organized and activated.”