Move Over, MoveOn

  • Bob Fertik's picture
    Bob Fertik
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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 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 and Progressive Democrats of America lead the netroots in the historic battle to bring our troops safely home from Iraq.


MoveOn problem

  • jgrant's picture
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I did not receive the ballot. If I had I would have rejected all the options. MoveOn's position is discouraging - to say the least.

In the defense of freedom and literacy libraries are the most powerful weapon we have. Use them!
--Maria Norlander Martinez


  • tarak Kauff's picture
    tarak Kauff
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What MoveOn has done in this latest poll is understandable from their perspective but very misleading and dishonest. Pelosi is afraid of dividing the Democrats. That's understandable, but to put a proposal on the table which will continue the war, while making it sound like tha Democrat leadership is oppossed to it is immoral and dishonest. Of course politicians can always find tactical reasons why they should be dishonest but we need leadership that is committed to truth and honesty. Period. Truth and integrity must supercede tactics, goals, etc. And it takes courage to stand for truth. Now the truth in this situation is simple: The War must end now - Now means ASAP and Bush and Co., according to the Constitution, must be brought up for impeachment, tried and if (is there any doubt?) found guilty of crimes, take all the legal consequences.

Truth and Honesty in government?

  • Rrrandy Wurst's picture
    Rrrandy Wurst
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Tarak Kauff, your plea for truth and honesty in government rings like a bell in the midst of rush hour traffic. Should we have truth and honesty? Absolutely. Does our magnificent Constitution demand it? Without doubt. Do our politicians and their support groups adhere to these values? I choke on the answer. Might we be at a turning point because of the heinous disregard and arrogance and unabashedly self-serving tactics of the Bush-43 Administration? My heart pounds at the possibility.
So, Tarak, keep up your intelligent efforts to take down these idiotic (from an ethical sense) yet brilliant (from a pragmatic New World Order sense) criminals and their cohorts. Let's be led by dreams and possibilities. And in our "spare time" perhaps we can conjure up some ironclad laws and penalties for keeping this crap from happening again.
Rrrandy Wurst at

I See MoveOn Now Takes the Moderate Path to More Death

  • DavidHP's picture
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I am resigning from MoveOn as a result of this. The war needs to be ended now. MoveOn, like most of the Democratic Party, is willing to play politics with my son's life (an active duty soldier). Screw them, they are on the opposing side now. END THE WAR NOW!!!!

Move On

  • grlnsrgn's picture
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Move On became a powerhouse by embracing and revealing public sentiment when the Democrats wouldn't stand up to Bush at all. Anyone who paid attention to progressive media prior to the invasion of Iraq knew that the intelligence was likely faulty. Anyone who paid attention to history knew that an alliance between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden was highly improbable. Yet only Kucinich voted no. Why not engage in a debate with MoveOn about the poll, rather than engage in Bush-like attack against a group that was carrying the torch while the Democratic party were silently following the White House. We stand an excellent chance of losing the election in 2008 because the Democratic candidates are inexperienced or hypocritical. Now is not the time to fight over who's more progressive - it's a time to build a coherent ideology that we can offer as different from Republican and that the party actually sticks to whether they are in office or not.

Healthy Dissent: Part 2

  • Sugar Fish's picture
    Sugar Fish
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I agree, and I hope you'll read my thoughts as I posted them in another journal:

Healthy Dissent

I got an email from yesterday that claims, in its subject line, that has betrayed the peace movement. It explains that failed its members by not mentioning the Barbara Lee Ammendment in the skewed poll they conducted yesterday morning. The email also supplied a link to make it easier to tell Moveon why I wanted to quit their organization if I wanted to do that.

I'm not going to quit Moveon over this one failure, but I am going to let them know that I don't like it. Likewise, I'm not going to cancel my subscription to the newsletter but I am going to let know that they have done their members a disservice. "Moveon Betrays Peace Movement" is divisive. And right now, divisiveness is the last thing that the peace movement, or the desire to remove our troops from Iraq, needs. I take issue with both the semantics ("betrayal" vs. "failure") and the tone of this email.

I expect black-and-white statements from neocons and the Bush administration: "You're either with us or against us." "They hate our freedoms." Unfortunately, as much as I am grateful to for keeping me informed in ways that popular media don't, I have to admit that I have also come to expect black-and-white statements from them. By the same token, I don't expect to call for the dissolution of

The Bush administration deserves the anger it has generated by committing atrocities all over the planet. The anger is necessary, but it tends to be blinding. The angrier you are, the harder it is to focus on ending wars and generating unity. This is true within groups as well as between them. Blind unity is as dangerous as reactionary divisiveness -- Moveon needs to account for their failure. But they should not be called upon, out of anger, to dissolve. Considering all of the good Moveon has done up to now, this one failure is hardly grounds for to call for them to move aside.

I would bet that a huge percentage of those who subscribe to announcements from either of these organizations subscribe to both. Both play a major role in dissent in our nation. If there are any two groups who need to support each other right now, they are and The dissent from is understandable and necessary, but the presentation just isn't healthy -- it doesn't appeal to unity in groups that are best served by working together in spite of differences, mistakes, and outright failures. Healthy dissent does not imply weakness in the dissenters. Ideally, healthy dissent strengthens the bonds between groups.

If persistently worked against its supporters' desires, or acted maliciously, then calling for their dissolution would make sense. But, in the end, all of the progressive groups whose newsletters I subscribe to are trying to achieve the same things. Its inevitable that they try to go about that in different ways. When these differences come up, it is wiser to try diplomatic means of bringing groups together. Our current administration's inability to employ diplomacy cost the world dearly. Please don't make the same mistake.

Block Escalation of Iraq

  • Ilse Hadda's picture
    Ilse Hadda
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Unless Move-On changes its position on the escalation of the war on Iraq, I can no longer support that organization in good conscience!


  • therocketguy's picture
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I usually just support most everything MoveOn does, but I recall that this particular poll they did didn't give the entire text of the poll. I'm going to be reading the issues from MoveOn more closely after this.

Move On wants sign ons for Elections bill... BUT!...

  • MATT CLARKE's picture
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what kind of BILL?  This we are not  told about! You need to challenge the office holders to vote themselves free air time to be taken back from the media corporations. Then they will not be able to cry about having to raise $ for TV time that they give away to  their corporate rulers. Campaign for free TV time!  Design the bill! And don't ask us to vote for undescribed bills, please, this is an insult to our intelligence.

Your tactics of collecting opinions are under serious question in my mind because of Barbara Lee amendment omission alternative.

This next tactic of not saying what is in the bill seems to follow along the same lines.

Are you becoming a computerized program with no feedback?

Matt Clarke Rockland Maine


We need to see the text of the bills.

  • kwahlf's picture
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before anyone can make a judgement call on them.

Interpretations do not work.

They are too subjective and exclusionary.

MoveOn must revote, with all the options

  • LeeAnneSLC's picture
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I am a volunteer organizer for MoveOn in Utah. We made thousands of phone calls to swing states before the election because we wanted change. I am their council coordinator for Salt Lake.

I did not vote in the MoveOn poll because I did not feel there were good clear choices and explanations presented, and I was too busy organizing for the 4th anniversary events.

Now that I see what they have done, I feel they mislead people who had come to trust them and they need to revote to keep us.

similar comments...

  • chet zebroski's picture
    chet zebroski
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i assume you have let moveon know of your concerns? ...i did!

Right on Lee Ann SLC!

  • MATT CLARKE's picture
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I made calls into Utah with Move On and agree with you.

I did not vote either because it seemed too fishy, that is, it seemed we were being manipulated. Move on needs help.

It is turning into a programmed machine for producing  alleged opinions in polls They may be doing it again on the elections bill,... no content  of the bill is included.


Their worst stupidity is not feeding back to members comments!

Trashed moveon several years ago

  • kathychad's picture
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MoveOn has done several things I didn't agree with. I stopped being a member several years ago for that very reason, so this does not surprise me.

Pelosi Screwing Kucinich

  • sweeet_pea's picture
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It's worse than all this! It was Pelosi who quietly agreed to strip out of the $100 billion funding bill for Iraq a provision that would have required President Bush to seek congressional approval before launching any new war on Iran, which was Kucinich's initial grounds for impeachment. (Not like there's any shortage of those, however.)

Pelosi has gotten over $63,000 from AIPAC

  • Kerry won's picture
    Kerry won
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I call this taking a bribe and acting accordingly.

Healthy Dissent: Part 1

  • Sugar Fish's picture
    Sugar Fish
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Dear Mr. Fertik, I agree wholeheartedly with your blog entry with one exception: "Moveon is embracing Pelosi's sellout of Moveon's members." I tend to agree with Rampton and Stauber's assessment of why she is taking the approach she is taking to get our troops out of Iraq. Actually, I don't see exactly how Rampton and Stauber's assessment is in conflict with your own. The article I just read about her indicates that she used to be seen, by members of her own party, as too reactionary to be an effective politician. Now it seems that members of her own party see her as... well... not reactionary enough.

For our troops' sake, I would love to see them immediately returned home. But the realities appear to me to be very much as Rampton and Stauber present them. If our soldiers are removed immediately, the area will descend into a far bloodier civil war than they are currently experiencing, and again, we'll be responsible for that. What evidence do you need to support that argument?

Bush broke it, we bought it -- if you get my meaning. As angry as I am that the American people have been put in this position, as much as I would love for our soldiers to be returned home immediately, and as much as (today I heard a poll citing 83%) of Iraqis want us to just get the hell out of there, I believe that a relatively instantaneous withdrawal would be disastrous for the Iraqis, for the Democratic party, the US and the world. If you can point me to some arguments that predict otherwise, I am very willing to consider them. Obama is right... I heard a speech he gave a few months ago in which he basically said that there is no good way out.

I feel the same way about impeachment. I was pissed when Nancy pulled it off the table. But I came to see the wisdom behind her saying that. I think there is a good possibility that she will return it to the table. As a Congress with a Democratic majority -- with Henry Waxman and other politicians with strong spines on the attack -- continues to delve into the chain of responsibility behind all of the hell we've endured since Bush came into office; and as the Bush administration continues to dig holes for itself, the possibility of true accountability grows nearer every day. It won't happen as quickly as you or I may want it to, but if it's going to happen at all, that may be the way it has to happen.

Rushing into Iraq was a disastrous move. Rushing out would be the same.

Beginning to change my mind about MoveOn, But...

  • Sugar Fish's picture
    Sugar Fish
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I used to be a moveon regional coordinator

  • Kerry won's picture
    Kerry won
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I resigned when I found that they had an agenda that didn't include the interests of the American people. Moveon is really afraid to take on controversial issues and they won't stand up to the Republicans when it counts. It took us years to get them to have rallies against the war. Support for the funding is support for the war.


  • Beverly's picture
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I did not get a ballot. I wouldn't have agreed.
I will think twice about supporting Move-On since this is a seminal decision.!!!

Moveon's Poll

  • dball's picture
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I have seen nothing to refute the Progressive Democrat's statement that "Moveon conducted a dishonest member 'poll' which deliberately left out the Barbara Lee Amendment that would limit new spending to a 'fully funded withdrawal' of our troops by the end of the year."

Dishonesty is unacceptable, whatever your reasons.

I considered leaving, but I think on balance MoveOn does far more good than harm. Rig another poll and I'll leave -- and so will a lot of people I know.

David Ball