Founded in December 2003, the Backbone Campaign (BC) describes itself as “a grassroots effort to embolden citizens and elected officials to stand up for progressive values.” The Executive Director of the Backbone Campaign is Bill Moyer (not the longtime PBS broadcaster Bill Moyers). A staunch opponent of Republican and conservative policies, Backbone’s Moyer charges that President Bush tried to justify the invasion of Iraq by means of “fear,” “a cynical form of political extortion,” and “the propagandizing of the American people.” On another occasion, Moyer wrote, “Our current administration has … served as the single most effective propaganda and recruitment agent for al Qaeda.” The Managing Director of the Backbone Campaign is Amy Morrison, who charges that “Bush & Co.’s agenda is solely driven by empire.”
BC’s platform includes the following:
- Civil Liberties: “We call for the repeal of the so-called ‘USA PATRIOT ACT I,’ including the Security Enhancing Act.”
- Civil Rights: “We call on the Democratic Party to strongly support Affirmative Action, … [to repeal] the ‘Unborn Victims of Violence Act’ and the partial-birth abortion bill, and [to provide] for universal access to” taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
- Criminal Justice: “We recognize that the best way to prevent crime is to provide an adequate safety net for our nation’s poor … transform [the criminal justice system] from purely punitive to one based upon a set of restorative principles … abolish the death penalty … end the so-called War on Drugs; bring an end to mandatory and determinate sentencing … stop racial profiling …”
- Immigration: “We support providing a safe and sure path to permanent legal status, and ultimately citizenship, for all of the 8 to 12 million undocumented immigrants who reside in the U.S.”
- Disarmament: “The U.S. must … work to eliminate our dependence on the military and the manufacture of weapons for providing employment; … abandon plans to build a so-called missile shield; [and] prohibit the introduction of weapons into outer space.”
The Backbone Campaign is a member organization of the United For Peace and Justice antiwar coalition, which is led by Leslie Cagan, a longtime committed socialist who proudly aligns her politics with those of Fidel Castro‘s Communist Cuba. It is also a member organization of the After Downing Street anti-war coalition. The Backbone Campaign website provides its visitors with a mechanism for voting for who they would like to see in a so-called “Backbone Cabinet. Leading all candidates (as of December 2005) for Agriculture Secretary is Dolores Huerta, a radical labor activist and a board member of the Democratic Socialists of America. For Secretary of Commerce, Backbone Campaign voters favor Robert Reich, who served as Labor Secretary under President Clinton. For the office of Defense Secretary, BC voters choose former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, who voted eleven times against the Homeland Security measures co-authored by Georgia’s more moderate Democratic Senator Zell Miller. Leading the pack of Backbone Campaign nominees for Education Secretary is radical Professor Howard Zinn. To head the Department of Health and Human Services, BC voters favor Howard Dean. For the office of Attorney General, BC voters favor Representative John Conyers. Sponsoring organizations of the Backbone Campaign include, most prominently, the antiwar groups Code Pink for Peace and Global Exchange. Both groups maintain strong ties to the Communist Workers World Party and to the aforementioned anti-war coalition United For Peace and Justice.
Other Backbone Campaign sponsors include:
(a) Cities For Peace (CFP): A project of the Institute For Policy Studies, CFP condemns the U.S. for what it deems excessive spending on its “perpetual-war economy.”
(b) Reclaim the Media (RTM): This organization seeks to promote leftist domination of the media, ostensibly to “serv[e] the public interest.” RTM’s Founding Endorsers include the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, and Norman Solomon (the founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy).
(c) Grassroots for America: This self-described “nationwide network of progressive grassroots activists” backed the candidacy of Howard Dean for U.S. President in 2004. It supports the agendas of Air America, America Coming Together, America Votes, Common Dreams, The Nation, and The Progressive.
(d) Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club: This Berkeley-based group works to “elect Democrats to all offices up and down the ballot and end the right-wing stranglehold of our government in Congress.”
(e) Utah Democratic Progressive Caucus: This organization advocates the immediate “repeal of the Patriot Act” and the creation of a “cabinet level Department of Peace … to end hunger [and] abolish poverty …”
(f) Progressive Democrats of America: This group seeks to work within the general framework of the Democratic Party to create a national “unstoppable coalition” of leftists committed to dismantling the “military-industrial complex.”
In December 2006, the Backbone Campaign participated in a rally outside the Tacoma Washington NW Detention Facility for illegal immigrants — to express their “solidarity with and concern for not only the 800 people interned inside, but for the millions of undocumented residents who live and work in America under constant fear of imprisonment and deportation.” Said the Backbone Campaign: “The criminalization of people who often live in this country for decades, provide services crucial to our economy, pay taxes, and often Social Security that they will never be able to collect is unacceptable. The U.S. simultaneously undermines living wage jobs at home and economies around the planet through corporate designed trade agreements … that create ever more economic refugees. Our so-called leaders then manipulate the increasingly desperate working people of this country, appealing to Americans’ xenophobia, fear and latent racism to doubly rob us while they enrich Halliburton with contracts to build a system of private prisons.”