By Ty Moore
Nov 7, 2008
“I will never concede defeat,” announced famed antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan after receiving an impressive 29,951 votes – 17 percent – in her insurgent bid for Congress. Sheehan took on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, architect of the Democratic Party’s betrayals following their 2006 takeover of Congress. The campaign faced a media blackout and Pelosi refused repeated calls to debate Sheehan. But supported by dedicated volunteers Sheehan became just the 6th independent candidate in California history to overcome the restrictive ballot access laws, raised over $500,000, and mounted a serious campaign.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to meet up with Cindy Sheehan and her campaign manager, Tiffany Burns, in their downtown office. It was October 13th, three weeks to election day. We discussed their campaign, but I was especially interested in Sheehan’s recent declaration to launch a new party following November 4th.
“Ever since I left the Democratic Party, and even before, I was writing about how there is not much difference in the two-party system,” Sheehan explained to me. “I’ve seen a lot of energy around Ralph Nader’s campaign, around Cynthia McKinney’s campaign and certainly I see it in my campaign everyday. I see that all three of us basically stand for the same things. Even Ron Paul revolutionaries, who are anti-imperialist – some of them don’t really understand [Ron Paul’s] full program… that certainly was a huge movement. Instead of having such disparate people trying for the same thing, why don’t we join our movements together to make an even bigger movement, to maybe have a viable third party.”
In a previous interview, Sheehan had reportedly already decided to name the new formation the “First Party.” My concern, I explained, was that simply declaring a new party, with a name and program already picked out, could alienate other forces who would want to be part of the process. “I never said I would just form a third party,” Cindy responded. “I said I was going to use the energies of the movement to bring it together. My idea is to call it the First Party.” Cindy also explained, “Right now it’s just an idea. I’ve talked to McKinney about it. I’ve talked to people in the Nader campaign about it… After the elections, win or lose, I’m committed to bringing in all the voices.”