WASHINGTON – Hundreds of liberal organizers and anti-war activists have signed a petition pledging to oppose President Barack Obama’s renomination in 2012 unless he reverses course in Afghanistan and pushes for significant cuts to military spending.
“We vow not to support President Barack Obama for renomination for another term in office, and to actively seek to impede his war policies unless and until he reverses them,” the petition reads.
From former high-ticket lawmakers to ex-intelligence officials to veterans advocates, the petition (available here) has garnered the support of a multitude noted figures, including Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, retired FBI agent Coleen Rowley, and 2006 US Senate candidate Jean Hay Bright.
“We wanted to express our willingness to take a stand,” said seasoned anti-war activist David Swanson, the creator of the pledge, in an interview with Raw Story. The signatories, he added, declared their “absolute unwillingness to support Obama” unless he “takes on the war machine.”
“Half of what we wanted to do was simply to inform people of what’s been happening for the past two years,” Swanson said, referring to the growing military budget, the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan and misconceptions about the end of the Iraq war. “People, to a huge extent, don’t even now what’s going on.”
“So our goal is to pressure him or to replace him, but certainly also to educate people.”
Swanson said the activists haven’t coalesced around a preferred alternative for the 2012 Democratic nominee, but he described ousted Democrats Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) as potentials who “would be far and away better than President Obama.”
Two other potential candidates, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), said they won’t run in 2012 and discouraged a Democratic primary challenge, adding to the view that an Obama renomination is a foregone conclusion.
But Swanson said he and the petitioners rejected the view that liberal activists should settle for flawed Democratic candidates and instead focus their resources on attacking Republicans.
“I think if you’re going to eliminate the use of party primaries to advance your interests, hold your nose for two full years, and then vote for someone who is against almost everything you stand for, but is just not as bad as somebody else, then you’ve really given up on democracy,” he said.
“We ought to think of this more in terms of pressuring elected officials to improve where they are, to move in the right direction.”
Swanson has over the last decade served as a spokesman for Kucinich and progressive entities such as the AFL-CIO affiliated International Labor Communications Association, ACORN, and more recently a campaign called StopTheChamber.com.
He added that there’s something “incredibly dishonest” about criticizing President George W. Bush’s war and military policies without applying those same standards to Obama.