Established by Ralph Nader in August 2001, Democracy Rising (DR) was a Washington, DC-based antiwar advocacy group that was a founding member of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition and a member of the After Downing Street anti-war coalition.
DR’s goal was to “end the occupation of Iraq by empowering activists so they cannot be ignored by decision-makers in Washington, DC.” Its website featured a page titled “Iraq War Facts” — a selection of excerpts culled from leftist webzines, op-eds critical of the war effort, and think tanks such as the Institute for Policy Studies.
Moreover, DR’s website made available various pre-written, “click-and-send letters” with antiwar messages that activists could transmit to members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Bush administration. Beginning in March of 2005, the website also contained Nader’s interactive blog as well as one by the organization’s executive director, Kevin Zeese. Blog entries were largely focused on protesting the Iraq War and attacking the Bush administration. A March 2006 post by Nader, for instance, denounced President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as two “top outlaws smashing our country’s rule of law and democratic liberties.”
In February 2005, DR launched its so-called “Stop the War” campaign, which featured, on the group’s website, details of an “Exit Strategy” that called on the United States to withdraw all troops and civilian contractors from Iraq. Blaming the “U.S. presence” in Iraq for the “insurrection, kidnapping, terrorism and anarchy” that were engulfing that country, DR predicted that “announcing a [troop] withdrawal and ending the corporate takeover of the Iraqi economy and oil resources will attract [mainstream Iraqis’] support away from the insurgents.” The organization also claimed that the “current illegal war and occupation has devastated the country,” and urged against allowing “U.S. oil and other corporations to profit” from the circumstances.
Along with troop withdrawal, the DR-proposed exit strategy advocated: (a) the develoment of an international peace-keeping force — under the auspices of the United Nations, and with heavy input from the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference — “to replace all U.S. troops and civilian military contractors”; (b) the establishment of “Iraqi self-rule” and “free and fair elections,” but only after the U.S. military presence was gone; and (c) the provision of American humanitarian aid to make amends for the fact that “the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the long-term US-led economic sanctions against Iraqi civilians resulted in tremendous damage to people, especially their children and the Iraqi infrastructure.”
Kevin Zeese, who oversaw the “Stop the War” campaign, further claimed that an exit strategy was essential to combating what he alleged was the U.S. government’s “chronic corruption related to Iraq contracts.” To substantiate that charge, DR’s website spotlighted a document titled “The Bush Family’s War Profiteering,” which sought to provide “examples of Bush family members who have profited from the war and occupation of Iraq.”
Virginia Rodino, who preceded Zeese as DR’s director, was described on the organization’s website as “a global justice activist who has protested the G-8, WTO, IMF, World Bank, and the occupation of Palestine and Iraq around the globe.” Rodino attended the 2005 G-8 summit in Scotland donning a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Insurgent” — to express her “solidarity,” she said, “with the courageous Iraqi resistance.” Also a member of United for Peace and Justice‘s Administrative Steering Committee, Rodino explained that she supported the Iraqi insurgency “because ultimately a victory of the Iraqi people against the U.S. war machine is a victory for liberation struggles around the globe.”
DR also had its own Washington, DC-based lobbyist, Carol Kramer, who supported “legislative initiatives that would withdraw U.S. troops and corporate interests, cut off war funding, and ban [the establishment of] permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.” In addition, Kramer worked to drum up Congressional support for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Democracy Rising became inactive in late 2007.