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MoveOn Members Are Voting on a Presidential Endorsement That Matters

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Reprinted from The Nation

A key progressive group is voting this week on whether to back Clinton, Sanders, or O'Malley.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley
Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley
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Before media and political elites began to understand the potential for online activism, MoveOn was doing it. The group, which was forged in the 1998 fight to get Congress to "move on" from petty-yet-divisive wrangling over the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and which expanded into a political force of national and international significance during the struggle to avert the war in Iraq, MoveOn has for almost two decades set benchmarks for digital activism.

Yet only once has MoveOn made an endorsement in a contest for a Democratic presidential nomination. In February 2008, when that year's primary race was at its most competitive, MoveOn members voted 70-30 to back the insurgent candidacy of Illinois Senator Barack Obama over that of New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Four years earlier, former Vermont governor Howard Dean beat Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in "the MoveOn primary," but fell short of the threshold to secure an endorsement.

In 2008, MoveOn backed Barack Obama. Will the group endorse in the 2016 Democratic race?

Now MoveOn members are voting again, in online balloting that began Thursday and will extend through Sunday.

"Here's your official, personal ballot, where you can vote now for your choice -- Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, Bernie Sanders, or no endorsement," read the message that went to MoveOn members Thursday afternoon.

"A key reason MoveOn exists is to elevate ordinary people's voices in our democracy, which has been rigged by the undue influence of big money and powerful interests -- and that's exactly what this vote is about," says Ilya Sheyman, executive director of Political Action. "This vote gives millions of MoveOn members across the country a chance to weigh in on the presidential race prior to the Iowa caucuses, and if there is substantial alignment among our membership, MoveOn will endorse and work to elect the candidate MoveOn members support."

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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