Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's Up With MoveOn?

I am a member of I believe that they do a lot of good work. I have even sent them a few bucks. But lately they have taken a direction that exposes some disturbing flaws. One current campaign is to mobilize members to ensure a "progressive landslide" in November. That sounds like a worthy goal, one that I would certainly get behind. Trouble is there is not a progressive candidate in sight that one can vote for. It seems that MoveOn chooses to conflate "Democratic" with "progressive". A very cynical ploy, in my judgment and one that is difficult to fathom. MoveOn leadership certainly knows what a true progressive is, so they also know that of the original slate of Democratic presidential wannabes the only one with real progressive credentials is Dennis Kucinich, and maybe Mike Gravel. Edwards is a populist trying to sound like a progressive but without the record to validate him. Clinton and Obama are certainly no progressives. So what is MoveOn up to? Progressives out here know we don't have a horse in the race. MoveOn is not fooling us. Is MoveOn trying to fool the rest of their membership? Is there not some risk in confusing people into thinking any Democratic candidate is a progressive candidate? Does that not subvert the meaning of "progressive"?

I am unpleasantly reminded of the activities of Lyndon LaRouche's U.S. Labor Party in the 1970's. A covert right-wing group with Fascist tendencies, its members posed publicly as socialists in an attempt to subvert and discredit real socialist and communist groups and their members. I really hope MoveOn does not have some hidden agenda but my gut is sending me a warning.

While thinking about that matter I had another realization. MoveOn boasts of being strongly pro-democracy ("Democracy in Action") and has repeatedly organized mass movements for good causes. But the way the organization operates is hardly democratic. In its relationship to it members this is a top-down outfit. I could find no forums on the web site, no place there for members to have open discussions on issues with the leadership or other members. There are MoveOn "groups" on Facebook but since I am not registered with Facebook I don't have access and therefore can't know what they are about. Why is this not available to me with my MoveOn membership alone? The only experience I have had with offering input to MoveOn is when they specifically solicit it. The leadership maintains strict control over the agenda. They decide what questions get put to the membership. In my book, this is not Democracy in Action.

Well hidden on the web site is a spot where one can make comments or suggestions. The following notice appears there: "We value your comments and suggestions. While we are unable to personally respond to your comments and suggestions all information coming to us, whether through email, surveys and other member driven communication, is shared with the staff on a regular basis." Not exactly an open invitation to become involved in participatory democracy.

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