There’s a leadership vacuum on the Left, due to the centrism of President Obama, Governor Gregoire, and the leadership of the Democratic Party.
Recently MoveOn.org has stepped in to fill that vacuum and has been successful at garnering citizen participation and media coverage.
Dozens of new people showed up at recent MoveOn house meetings I attended. (See Thoughts on yesterday’s American Dream meeting and MoveOn’s plan for a mass movement.) Turnout was even higher at protests that MoveOn organized at Congressional offices, including that of Republican Congressman Dave Reichert (8th CD, WA). People are scared and angry about Republican insanity and Democratic complicity, and MoveOn provides a useful means of using that anger constructively.
About 75 people turned out at a July 26th protest at Reichert’s Mercer Island office. Over 60 people showed up on Aug 2. Both Reichert protests generated a lot of press, for example:
King 5 video on visits to McDermott, Smith & Reichert; MoveOn was mentioned
Reichert’s video remarks (let the system work) didn’t address the issues.
Article w/pics about Reichert visit
“Mercer Island Police arrived a short time later to escort the protesters out of the building and allowing them to gather on the sidewalk on 78th Avenue SE.”
A friend wrote, “A reporter from Mercer Island patch was there and he was writing about it. You may check that. People gathered and went to his office and then they said we should be outside and 2 staffers with clip board came and handed people a piece of paper with their information and they concerns.”
Sandra VanderVen, a MoveOn regional coordinator, deserves applause for organizing these events and stepping forward, literally, with a megaphone at the protests.
I just started a new job and so I have been unable to attend either protest. Apparently, only unemployed, under-employed or retired people have the time to attend such protests, which are usually in the middle of the day on a work day.
MoveOn.org has gone through a lot since it was formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. It’s played a big role in helping elect Democrats but has also come under criticism for being inflexible (top-down), controlling, and complicit with centrism. The Democratic Party has at times treated MoveOn unfairly, for example in response to MoveOn’s controversial General “Betray Us” ad in the New York Times.
People stop attending meetings and protests if they feel that nothing is being accomplished. Right now, MoveOn is succeeding. An organizer of one of the house meetings wrote, “I know that MoveOn.org is really trying to get things moving and right now – that’s going to be tough. I didn’t get to sit in on much of the discussion last time but what I heard was a frustration that people want to DO something and not just sit around. I had one guy grill me on what was going to be done with the information that came out of meeting. Had to admit that I’m not sure – just that I did send it forward to the right people.”
Like the rest of us, MoveOn is imperfect, but it’s been a force for good overall, especially recently. Let’s hope it continues to make constructive use of peoples’ anger.
Let’s also hope that the media continue to give coverage to MoveOn events. In fact, better yet: let’s make our own news media so that we’re no longer at the mercy of often conservative news outlets.