Several months ago, Molly Ivins and I wrote columns suggesting that Bill Moyers should consider seeking the presidency in 2008 [Molly] and that, if he did, he should mount a serious campaign [John]. Despite the fact that the journalist and author who has become in many senses the moral voice of the nation did not leap at the opportunity to wade into the swirling political waters of this turbulent moment, the columns sparked an enthusiastic response — hundreds of emails, several websites and a busy Draft Bill Moyers for President weblog.
Now that the 2006 election season is coming to the close that in this era of the permanent campaign marks the opening of the 2008 election season, the Moyers movement — if a campaign without an announced candidate can be called that — has attracted an unexpected enthusiast.
Consumer activist Ralph Nader, something of a regular on the presidential campaign trail himself n recent years, has penned a sharp, well-articulated case for a Moyers candidacy.
Nader begins by asking “How does ‘Bill Moyers for President’ sound to you?”
It’s a rhetorical question, which Nader has clearly answered for himself.
“The long time Democrat and special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson would surely widen the political debate inside the Democratic Party and its primaries in 2008,” he writes.
The man who carried the Green Party banner in the 1996 and 2000 lays out a savvy proposal on behalf of a Moyers run for the Democratic nomination in the next presidential election:
For over a year, since leaving Public Television and his luminous Friday night program /NOW/, Moyers has been completing a book about President Johnson. His periodic lectures on the politics of progressive populism and the dangers of corporate power and abuses have thrilled large civic audiences and circulated widely on the Internet.
A few months ago, columnists Molly Ivins and John Nichols wrote about the desirability of Moyers’ tossing his hat into the ring. In his private conversations with friends, I am told, he has not ruled out a run. On the contrary he showed some interest in an exchange with an old Texan friend.
Moyers brings impressive credentials beyond his knowledge of the White House-Congressional complexes. He puts people first. Possessed of a deep sense of history relating to the great economic struggles in American history between workers and large companies and industries, Moyers today is a leading spokesman on the need to deconcentrate the manifold concentrations of political and economic power by global corporations. He is especially keen on doing something about media concentration about which he knows from recurrent personal experience as a television commentator, investigator, anchor and newspaper editor.
As millions of viewers and readers over the decades know, Bill Moyers is unusually articulate and authentic in evaluating the unmet necessities and framing the ignored solutions in our country.
He has interviewed hundreds of authors, scholars, politicians and activists demonstrating his penchant for being well prepared in advance.
Moyers would bring to the Democratic Party a much needed understanding of the South, its political, populist and religious history and contemporary dynamics. His Baptist, Texas background would help his Party understand how to stop writing off the South to the Republicans from the Presidential to the state and local levels and how to become engaged in this fastest growing region of the nation.
Few people can bridge the perceived gaps between political regions. His books demonstrate that unique and calm ability to persuade people to come to grips with fundamentals. His presence in the Presidential primary debates would not be marginalized.
Moyers has done numerous television programs on the corruption of money in politics-commercial money given to incumbents and candidates with the understanding that there is a /quid pro quo/. He wouldn’t follow those paths. Still he would have to raise money without strings attached to be credible to the media and the pollsters.
This is where Moyers has an advantage over other progressive candidates either within the Democratic Party, like Dennis Kucinich, or in the Green Party, like Peter Camejo and Howie Hawkins.
Moyers has the best contacts among well-to-do progressive Americans of anyone I know. People, who want nothing in return but clean politics, responsive government and more power to the people to make corporations servants, not masters, respect Moyers.
My guess is that with a good campaign staff he could raise $30 million during the primary season and receive millions more in federal matching funds. Such a sum would not come close to the cash that Hillary Clinton or John Kerry could raise. But carefully spent and connected to a community based movement of new leaders to freshen and redirect the Democratic Party, something of a breakthrough could happen.
At the least Moyers would quicken the pulse of his Party and give it some moxy.
Nader closes off by taking things a step further, suggesting a willingness to serve as a pointman for a Moyers campaign by closing his statement with the line: “If you have any interest in this proposal contact me at P.O. Box 19312, Washington, DC 20036.”
Ralph Nader has plenty of critics, especially when he starts stirring the presidential waters. But this is a proposal that both his supporters and his critics should read with interest, as should a certain journalist from Texas.
John Nichols’ new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism is being published this month by The New Press. “With The Genius of Impeachment,” writes David Swanson, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, “John Nichols has produced a masterpiece that should be required reading in every high school and college in the United States.” Studs Terkel says: “Never within my nonagenarian memory has the case for impeachment of Bush and his equally crooked confederates been so clearly and fervently offered as John Nichols has done in this book. They are after all our public SERVANTS who have rifled our savings, bled our young, and challenged our sanity. As Tom Paine said 200 years ago to another George, a royal tramp: ‘Bugger off!’ So should we say today. John Nichols has given us the history, the language and the arguments we will need to do so.” The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com