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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/21/11

MoveOn's plan for a mass movement

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Many of you probably got this email (below) from  It starts off well, describing the serious trouble America is in and the fact that we can't depend on Obama or the Dems to set things right.  Calling for a mass movement akin to the civil rights movement seems correct too.    But then they ask for donations.

Do they really need money up front?  Should MoveOn lead the mass movement? Will they work with other groups or go it alone? Would it be better to start a third political party?

There are so many lefty advocacy groups. Each day I get dozens of emails from different groups.

It's unfortunate that we need to depend on advocacy groups, but given the unreliable record of the Democratic Party, it seems we need alternative means of organizing. I've often wondered whether if all the people who are active in advocacy groups instead worked to reform the Democratic Party, we wouldn't need advocacy groups. Angry conservatives take over the GOP and push it rightwards; angry progressives flee the Dems and join third parties or advocacy groups.

I'm not sure how effective MoveOn has been. Maybe you can't blame MoveOn for that.  The organization, money, and ruthlessness of the right wing forces arrayed against us are formidable.

For a long time MoveOn worked for the Democratic Party, which then turned around and betrayed MoveOn (e.g., about their Gen. Petraeus ad.)  So, I think MoveOn was less effective than they could have been: they should have been more independent from the Democratic Party and should have extracted more concessions for their support.

Another concern is that MoveOn tends to be quite "top-down." They have stringent rules about when you can hold events and what sorts of events you hold. You have to closely follow their guidelines.   You could say that that's precisely what the Left needs: more coordination.  But MoveOn's guidelines  have always felt too constricting to me.

Still, things seem to be going from bad to worse, and MoveOn's mix of youthful idealism and moderate leftism might be what we need to build a mass movement. Some people would prefer a more radical approach.


--- On Mon, 6/20/11, Justin Ruben, Civic Action wrote:

From: Justin Ruben, Civic Action
Subject: Hurting
Date: Monday, June 20, 2011, 8:24 AM

We can't wait for Washington. We  need our own people-powered movement to rebuild the American Dream. It launches in days and comes to homes across America in a few short weeks--if you can help. Can you chip in $45 right away?
  Contribute Now (disabled)

Dear MoveOn member,

America's in a tough spot right now. So many people are hurting. Yet in Washington and our state capitols, the big debate is about how much more pain to inflict. How many teachers to fire. How many new tax breaks to give the rich.It's pretty clear by now that we can't wait for Barack Obama, or the Democrats, to save us. But the one thing that might turn things around is an honest-to-God mass movement--something on the scale of the civil rights movement or the antiwar movement--built around a vision of an economy that works for all of us, not just the top 2%.

So today we're launching a $1 million fundraising drive for one of the biggest things we've ever tried--joining with dozens of other progressive organizations to lift up a new, grassroots movement to rescue the economy and bring the American Dream within reach for all Americans.

I can't promise you it'll work. But we have some good ideas and I know you'll have lots more. And with how bad things are going, we've got time to do something really big. Can you chip in to get this off the ground?

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Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, activist, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See and for my (more...)

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