Washington (CNSNews.com) - Anti-war activists gathered at a three-day seminar in Washington designed to move the Democratic Party to the left expressed "tremendous concern" over the party's current direction.
"Democrats have to understand that this (anti-war stance) is a position that resonates with the American people," said Medea Benjamin, a spokesperson for the peace group Code Pink. Benjamin, a panelist at a workshop called "Next Stage for the Peace Movement," said the anti-war community fears what it sees as the Democratic Party's shift to the political center.
"There is a tremendous concern about that," Benjamin told CNSNews.com. The workshop took place Thursday at the "Take Back America" conference sponsored by the liberal Campaign for America's Future. Several of the declared Democratic presidential candidates also addressed the group.
Philippe Chabat of the D.C. Anti-War Network lambasted the Democratic Party for trying to move to the political center to win the presidency in 2004.
"I am sick and tired, as a progressive American, of being totally taken for granted by the Democratic Party that has a leadership that wants to chip away at the" moderate middle of the electorate, Chabat said in an interview with CNSNews.com.
Ohio U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean are the most acceptable Democratic presidential candidates to the anti-war movement, according to Chabat. But he spared no criticism of other candidates.
"Joseph Lieberman is a Trojan Horse for the Republican Party, and John Kerry is a warmonger, and he's from Massachusetts, so he'll never win," Chabat asserted. "Dick Gephardt is the biggest loser that the Democratic Party has had in the last 50 years."
Speakers at the workshop predicted the anti-war movement would expand.
"We are going to turn this country around within one year, and we are going to have peace and security on different terms," said Bob Musil, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The participants slammed the Bush administration for its "occupation" of Iraq and its energy policy.
Benjamin warned of the "second invasion of Iraq" by U.S. corporations and called for a "real secure energy system that would force the automobile companies to give us cars that get 50 miles per gallon."
John Cavanah, co-founder of the group United for Peace and Justice, said: "The Democrats will be strengthened if they make [anti-war policies] the centerpiece of their  campaign.
But Cavanah warned that if the Democrats do not oppose Bush's "reckless and unsafe" foreign policy, they will "likely lose millions of people who have been energized by the peace movement."
Chabat predicted that anti-war Democratic candidates would gain in popularity.
"Those candidates like Kucinich and Howard Dean who actually stood up and spoke out against this stupid, senseless war are going to find themselves the frontrunners," Chabat explained.
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