Politics in the United States often seem bleak, if not hopeless. There just aren’t many campaigns or candidates out there that one can get too excited about these days. And if it’s the war and US foreign policy that’s got you in a tizzy, you may as well forget about tracking down a contender that feels the same. There are not a lot out there.
Some do exist, however, but they are often left out. The fact is it is people who agree with a candidate’s positions but abandon them that do the most damage, not the media or Beltway insiders. That’s why it is vital that antiwar folks stick to their cause and resist the quicksand of lesser-evil politics in 2006, regardless of the alleged consequences. If a candidate starts to speak up and embody an antiwar stance, the movement against the war should stand behind him/her with full force.
Just such a candidate has risen to the challenge. Lawyer and antiwar activist Kevin Zeese is taking on the two war parties by seeking an open US Senate seat from Maryland. Zeese, who is running independent of the two major parties, has been involved in a host of social justice issues over the past thirty years and is currently serving as the director for the antiwar organization Democracy Rising, which is calling for a responsible, rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Zeese is seeking the nomination of Maryland’s antiwar Libertarian, Populist and Green Parties as well as support from Maryland's fastest growing group of voters -- disgruntled Republicans and Democrats.
“There is not a single Senator standing up in Washington urging that we bring the troops home,” Zeese recently told me. “Even the strongest opposition to the war in the Senate does not advocate an exit time table. With a growing majority opposing this war and wanting the troops to come home as soon as possible, the Senate needs at least one member who will advocate for that majority view.”
In order for Zeese to pull of a victory he must defeat entrenched pro-war Congressman Ben Cardin, who is a perfect example of what is so utterly wrong with the Democratic establishment. Cardin has voted to fund the occupation; he opposes an exit strategy and supports the invasive Patriot Act. Like most politicians in Washington, Cardin is also in the pockets of the corporate elite. Even though he’s been a legislator for almost two decades now, nobody quite knows what the guy stands for ideologically. One thing is for sure, though, convictions don’t drive Cardin -- campaign dollars do.
Zeese's pursuit is already drawing support from Democrats disappointed with the Party's attempt to anoint Cardin. Zeese will be addressing Democratic-leaning groups in November urging them to support a strong antiwar advocate, not a corporate activist. But Zeese isn’t just hoping his campaign can shave votes away from Cardin, he is also attempting to slice a wedge in Maryland’s Republican base.
“The DC Republican’s Wall Street values are not consistent with Main Street values,” Zeese contends. “Their wholehearted support for the Patriot Act is not consistent with protecting the Constitution, and the Republican’s support for nation building in Iraq is not consistent with investing in America.”
There is no doubt that Zeese has his work cut out for him. His campaign is up against a popular Democrat and his beefy $4 million war chest. And all this before the likely Republican, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele -- a Karl Rove-backed stooge -- has announced his bid. But a contentious three-way race can be won by a plurality vote of as little as 34 percent.
If the antiwar movement wants an independent Senator in Washington who will not compromise or quit in efforts to stop the war in Iraq, they should consider passing a few dollars to the Zeese camp.
“We’ve got to move past party politics and stick to issues,” says Kevin Zeese, “I’m standing up against this war. We’ve got to bring our troops home. We’ve to end this occupation and I believe that if the antiwar movement gets behind my campaign, Washington will have no choice but to listen to our pleas.”
* You can learn more about the Zeese campaign at www.kevinzeese.com.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted rate at www.brickburner.org. Joshua can be reached at Joshua@brickburner.org.
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