At a Washington, DC press conference on March 17, 2006 — the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq — Voters For Peace (VFP) announced its formation as a “nonpartisan” anti-war organization.
Asserting that “Americans who oppose the Iraq occupation are a committed and growing majority of the voting population,” VFP laments that “anti-war voters are not organized and too often fall into the trap of voting for a pro-war candidate because the candidate is seen as the ‘lesser evil.’ So, rather than voting for what we want — ending the Iraq occupation, or preventing a new war against Iran — people vote for what they don’t want: someone who promises to ‘manage’ the war better or even send more U.S. troops.”
VFP’s mission is to “educate and organize voters” (particularly “disaffected” Republicans, Democrats, and independents) so that they will pledge to support only candidates favoring immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. In its initial press release, the organization stated that it had secured $1 million in startup funding but did not identify its donors.
Kevin Zeese, a leftist activist who has helped develop more than a dozen advocacy organizations, also serves as the Director of Democracy Rising, a Washington, DC-based founding member of the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) anti-war coalition led by Leslie Cagan, a longtime committed socialist who proudly aligns her politics with those of Fidel Castro‘s Communist Cuba. Zeese has worked on numerous local, state and national political campaigns, and served as Ralph Nader‘s Press Secretary in 2004. He predicts that VFP will organize two million voters in 2006 and five million by 2008. “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.”
Bill Scheurer is a leader of the Lindenhurst, Illinois-based group Congress for Peace, which is also part of the UFPJ anti-war coalition. “We have an illegal war of aggression and occupation [in Iraq] going on,” says Scheurer, who also supports universal taxpayer-funded health care, opposes CAFTA and other free-trade agreements, and abjures “tax cuts for the rich” and “corporate welfare.” Scheurer is the Director of Peace Majority and Editor of The PeaceMajority Report(PMR), a “nonpartisan, nonprofit” email newsletter that publicizes the actions and events of leftist anti-war groups across the United States. The Editorial Advisory Board of PMR includes Medea Benjamin, a pro-Castro co-founder of the antiwar organizations Code Pink for Peace and Global Exchange; Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices in the Wilderness; Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun magazine; Kevin Martin, Executive Director of Peace Action; Dave Robinson, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA; and Susan Shaer, Executive Director of Women’s Action for New Directions.
Dick Mazess is a California-based activist and financier based who, prior to the 2004 presidential election, wrote, on the Progressive Democrats of America website, “Both Kerry and Edwards are committed to the seven permanent military bases under construction in Iraq. Their foreign policy will be like that of the first Bush. They do differ slightly from Bush-Cheney on domestic issues, but like them they do not make fiscal sense. [P]ersonality-wise Edwards is a smiling maggot and Kerry needs some ecstasy in his embalming fluid.”
Linda Schade is a political and anti-globalization activist who serves as VFP’s Director. She registered the “votersforpeace” domain name in 2002. That same year, she was the Green Party candidate for the Maryland state legislature. Condemning what she deems the widespread “racist police brutality” in America, she is the co-founder of the Justice Action Coalition and the Coordinator of the Campaign for Police Accountability.
VFP identifies itself as “a shared program” of the following organizations: After Downing Street, American Conservative magazine (a project of Patrick Buchanan), Backbone Campaign, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, Global Exchange, Gold Star Families for Peace, Peace Action, Peace Majority, PeaceMajorityReport, The Nation Magazine, and United For Peace and Justice. It is also endorsed by the Revolutionary Communist Party-affiliated Not In Our Name project of C. Clark Kissinger.