Move Over, MoveOn
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I don't like to attack progressive allies, but it's hard not to agree with Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber who found today's Moveon survey utterly dishonest:
Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?
MoveOn's 3.2 million members strongly oppose any continuation of the war, and the language above seems to suggest that MoveOn's leadership agrees. But MoveOn's organizing around Iraq has become notably ambiguous lately. Although it talks in general terms about bringing the troops home, specific timetables or meaningful steps in that direction are nowhere discussed. Most strikingly, MoveOn has adamantly refused to support the Iraq amendment from Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters, which calls for "a fully funded, and systematic, withdrawal of U.S. soldiers and military contractors from Iraq" by the end of 2007...
On Sunday, MoveOn distributed a survey asking its members to vote on three options: support the Pelosi bill; oppose it; or "not sure." MoveOn's Eli Pariser described the survey in an email as an opportunity for members to participate in "a big decision coming up this week. ... MoveOn is a member-directed organization — we believe that all of us, together, are smarter than any one of us." In fact, however, MoveOn's survey was designed to conceal from its members the option of supporting the stronger anti-war amendment put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
There are, of course, other ways of running a survey. When TrueMajority.org recently surveyed its members about the best way forward, they offered three choices: the Lee plan, the Pelosi plan, and the option of demanding that Congress reject any further war funding, period. Only 24 percent of TrueMajority's members supported the Pelosi plan — which appears to be the reason why MoveOn's survey gave their members no choice but the Pelosi plan.
Rampton and Stauber blame Moveon's dishonesty on "some breathtakingly cynical political calculations by the leadership of the Democratic Party, with which MoveOn has aligned itself."
If the war ends this year, the debate during the 2008 congressional and presidential elections will turn to "who lost Iraq." If the war continues into next year, however, Democrats will benefit as the de facto "anti-war party," no matter how feckless their opposition in the meantime.
Part of this calculation is based on a common expectation, expressed by many analysts, that a U.S. withdrawal will be followed by an explosion of Iraqi-on-Iraqi bloodletting that is even worse than the current violence...
In the short run, a U.S. withdrawal followed by the expected Iraqi national implosion will be spinnable by conservative pundits as proof that the war should have continued, and this is what Democratic politicians fear. Instead of campaigning as the party that will end the war, they are afraid that they may be labeled responsible for allowing a bloodbath to happen.
While this analysis is plausible, Rampton and Stauber offer no evidence to support it.
A less conspiratorial explanation is that the ideologically diverse Democratic Caucus is simply divided on Iraq. A few Bluedogs still support the war, while others do not believe Congress should "micromanage" a war (even though Newt Gingrich's Republicans "micromanaged" President Clinton's war in Kosovo). To avoid dividing the Caucus in public, Speaker Pelosi let the Bluedogs remove all "teeth" from her bill.
But Rampton and Stauber are right about Moveon - they should not conceal the true progressive position (Barbara Lee's amendment) from their 3.2 million supporters to protect Speaker Pelosi from their wrath.
Moveon became a powerhouse because it embraced the political passions of its members while Democrats were out of power. Now that Democrats are in power, Moveon is embracing Pelosi's sellout of Moveon's members.
If that doesn't change immediately, it's time for Moveon to Move Over and let more progressive groups like Democrats.com and Progressive Democrats of America lead the netroots in the historic battle to bring our troops safely home from Iraq.