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MoveOn.org Versus Its Members


By David Swanson

"A liberal is the kind of guy who walks out of a room when the argument turns into a fight." - Saul Alinsky

The Congress that was elected to end the war just voted to fund the war. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was not permitted to offer for a vote her amendment, which would have funded a withdrawal instead of the war. Groups that supported Lee's plan and opposed Pelosi's included United for Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, US Labor Against the War, After Downing Street, Democrats.com, Peace Action, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, True Majority, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Backbone Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Voters for Peace, Veterans for Peace, the Green Party, and disgruntled former members of MoveOn.org.

True Majority was a late addition to the list. The organization polled its members. Did they favor the Pelosi bill to fund the war but include various toothless restrictions on it, or did they favor the Lee plan to use the power of the purse to end the war by the end of the year? Needless to say, True Majority's membership favored the Lee plan.

MoveOn polled its membership without including the Lee alternative, offering a choice of only Pelosi's plan or nothing. Amazingly, Eli Pariser of MoveOn has admitted that the reason MoveOn did this was because they knew that their members would favor the Lee amendment. The following is from a report on Salon.com:

"Pariser defends his e-mail. He says that the group already knew that its members would have supported Barbara Lee's plan, but whatever MoveOn did, it would never have passed. What MoveOn didn't know was what its members thought about the Pelosi plan. 'The choice that we needed to make as an organization was, Do we support this thing or not?' Pariser says. 'And so I think the e-mail was a very fair presentation of the choice that was actually in front of the organization.'"

Pariser is simultaneously admitting that he knew his members favored the Lee amendment to quickly end the war by defunding it, and claiming that he did not know whether his members preferred Pelosi's weak anti-war gestures to nothing at all. This makes no sense. Are we supposed to imagine that Pariser honestly believed there was some chance that his membership would read his praise for Pelosi's bill and then vote for nothing at all instead of supporting it? Of course not. The point of the poll was to allow MoveOn to announce that its membership supported Pelosi rather than Lee. Yet Pariser admits that he did not offer MoveOn's membership a choice of Lee's plan because he knew they would vote for it.

Actually, he doesn't say that he knows Lee's plan would have won out over Pelosi's. But he certainly does not know that it wouldn't have, and making that baseless and to my mind very unlikely claim was the only possible point of having done the poll. The rationale that Pariser offers is absurd. The poll could only have had one result. It served to give cover to progressive Democrats in Congress who gave their support to Pelosi after having intended to vote no on Pelosi's bill unless it included Lee's amendment.

Now, Pariser believes he knows better than MoveOn members what is good for them. He didn't let them make the supposed mistake of backing Lee rather than Pelosi, because Lee supposedly could never pass, while Pelosi could. There are three problems with this, other than the extreme arrogance and dishonesty. One is that, as Bob Fertik has pointed out http://www.democrats.com/moveon-explanation-1 , even if Lee's amendment did not pass, a vote for it would have helped to build war opposition in Congress, Pelosi's bill could have still passed too, and other amendments could still have been denied a vote.

The second problem is that we have no proof that Lee's amendment could not have been passed. A third of the Democrats have taken similar positions. The leadership could have brought another third on board. And relentless pressure and threats and bribes of the sort aimed at progressives could have brought many of the right-wing Democrats along. And if it had failed, and the Republicans and Republican-lite Democrats had voted down the bill, it would have been clear who stood where, and Pelosi could have announced victory and the end of the war. The Pentagon has more than enough money to safely bring our troops home right away without Congress passing any bill at all.

The third problem is that it is not at all clear that voting down Pelosi's bill would have been worse than passing it. She would have been forced to come back with another bill, as she will be if this one doesn't make it past the Senate, or Bush vetoes or signing statements it (well, she'll probably ignore a signing statement, but not a veto). But starting on bill #2 could have come more quickly and with more influence from the progressives if they had voted down the war funding bill.

Building a serious Out of Iraq caucus is key to getting us to another position that I suspect the majority of MoveOn members favor: the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Of course, MoveOn has not polled its members on impeachment, but it won't do so apparently until impeachment proceedings are well underway and a successful vote for impeachment can be safely predicted. (Though at that point, what will be the point?)

But, how can we be sure that Pariser viewed his poll of MoveOn members on Pelosi's bill not as a contest between Pelosi and nothing, but as a contest between Pelosi and Lee? Well, because Pariser told the news journal the Politico just that:

"In the poll, MoveOn.org gave its members a choice of supporting, opposing or being 'not sure' of the plan proposed by the Democratic leadership, according to an e-mail sent to members Sunday by MoveOn.org official Eli Pariser. It did not mention a more aggressive withdrawal proposal backed by Woolsey, Waters and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Pariser said MoveOn.org had held out as long as possible before backing the leadership proposal. 'We were basically declining to take a position as long as we could to strengthen the hand of the progressives. We did the poll at the last time we felt we could have an impact on the final vote.' He said he would support the progressive proposal if it came to a vote. 'We'll encourage people to vote for that and for the supplemental,' he said. 'We are trying to end the war. That's the mandate.'

So, Pariser held off as long as possible to run a rigged poll and announce support for Pelosi's bill, in order not to actively work against the Lee Amendment. But working to support the Lee Amendment never crossed his mind, and he avoided asking his members about it because he knew they would favor it. But the progressives were not at that point pushing for a pretentious and meaningless vote on Lee followed by backing for Pelosi. They were pushing for a Yes vote on Lee and a No vote on Pelosi unless it included Lee.

If Pariser thought he knew so much about what was possible and what was not, why didn't he lay that case out to MoveOn's membership? Why didn't he offer the choice of backing Lee's position but make his argument that it would be futile? Did he not trust MoveOn members to make the right decision? That seems strange given the lines that can be found at the bottom of a MoveOn Email:

"Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.2 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you'd like to support our work, you can give now at…."

Clearly MoveOn needs to work on distinguishing "member driven" from "member funded."

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Dear Bill,

I wanted to respond quickly to your concerns about the Iraq supplemental vote and our poll, because there's some misinformation floating out there about our position and how we came to it.

First, some folks are saying that MoveOn doesn't support the so-called Lee Amendment -- a stronger proposal than the Pelosi bill that would end the war by 2007. It's a no-brainer that MoveOn members would support that proposal, and that's what we've told the press. We actually encouraged MoveOn members to mention it in their calls to Congress this past week.

But the Lee Amendment and the Pelosi bill aren't mutually exclusive, and in fact, Barbara Lee didn't put her amendment up for a vote. So we wanted to know how our members felt on the final bill, given that it was unlikely to include the (admittedly better) Lee amendment.

Other people are saying that MoveOn members didn't know what they voted for. Over 126,000 of us voted -- a usual response rate for a vote like this (by comparison, the percentage of Connecticut members who voted for us to endorse Ned Lamont was about the same). In my experience, MoveOn members are smart, informed, and opinionated -- I couldn't tell them what to think if I wanted to. And reading through those comments, it's clear that most people understood the choice in front of us. I've attached some of them below.

(We also did a few polls before this one to feel folks out, and got the same response no matter how we asked the question.)

Finally, some folks simply don't think that voting for a timetable is enough to end the war. Neither do I, actually -- this bill doesn't go as far as I'd like, and we need to keep pushing. But the choice in front of us this week, unfortunately, was between setting an end date for the war and keeping it going indefinitely. Having the majority of Congress set an end date is a start.

There's no question that this was a difficult call -- and we have allies who came down against the bill. We'll continue to work together with them -- and with MoveOn members who disagreed with the MoveOn vote -- to bring an end to the war. We'll all need to push together to make this happen.

It always pains me to hear when a MoveOn member is unhappy with us, and I take this feedback very seriously. I hope this helps clarify what our position is, and how our process worked.
And I hope you'll stay involved. Bottom line, MoveOn's a group of people trying to make change -- the more of us, the more change we can make.

Sincerely,

--Eli

P.S. If you're curious about more of the details of the poll, we've written up a detailed response to the allegations that are swirling around at:
http://pol.moveon.org/iraq/supplemental.html

Another thing MoveOn does that ticks me off is they send you an e-mail and ask you to host a vigil or some sort of event, but you can't pick the date. For the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War they sent out an e-mail to do a candlelight vigil for Monday night...Arlington West Veterans for Peace was having a candlelight vigil two days before on a Saturday, but you could not send e-mails to local MoveOn members to announce that, you had to do their thing on their date. I like the UFPJ website better, you can put the event start and end times when you wish, they don't insist that you do it their way... I also really like Leslie Cagan and Judith LeBlanc from United for Peace and Justice, they are always available to answer questions and are real WINNERS...
I think MoveOn.org is getting too big for their britches....so I guess I will MoveOn...

"I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."
http://www.votersforpeace.us/

I agree with David's and Diane's sentiments and I also unsubscribed from MoveOn.

Here's what I sent them in the box for comments when I unsubscribed:

- - - - -
I'm disgusted with MoveOn's support of the supplemental appropriations bill and Nancy Pelosi's pandering to the right.

We need to:
STOP the OCCUPATION and
STOP APPROPRIATIONS for it.
Period. No excuses. No voting to give Bush until Aug. 2008
to continue the mayhem and destruction.

NO MORE MONEY FOR OPERATION IRAQ QUAGMIRE!

MoveOn, you can Move On. You're not representing me nor
the peace movement.

Goodbye.

- - - - -
Maybe if a few thousand of us tell them we're fed up then maybe, just maybe, they'll listen. They haven't been interested in listening in the past, though. But at least I don't want to keep encouraging them to continue with this sort of betrayal of progressive principles.

We need to thank the courageous Reps that David pointed out at http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/heroes -- these are the ones who stood up for their principles.

And if Bush does veto this supplemental appropriations bill, as he said he would, we need to keep the pressure on all our reps to NOT pass any more supplemental appropriations to feed the war & death machine.

http://progressiveactionalliance.org/

MoveOn polled its membership without including the Lee alternative, offering a choice of only Pelosi's plan or nothing. Amazingly, Eli Pariser of MoveOn has admitted that the reason MoveOn did this was because they knew that their members would favor the Lee amendment.

That's a BushCo 101... "Fixing the Facts" around the policy... NO?

I had no idea that they modeled their policy after the Unitary Executive Decider.

Who's office was in charge of this one, Douglas Feith?

Yes, Max, that push-polling is BushPlay 101. And even more so is the cynical and highly disingenuous "We won't consider it because it has no chance of becoming law" - exactly the words also used by the Great Pretender himself yesterday, in describing Pelosi's MoreWar bill.

One might be tempted to conclude that, monstrously, BushCo and MoveOn are sharing the same political strategist. But of course, it's far worse than that. It's (yet another) evidence that they are both mouthpieces for the same, overarching corporate interests; their cynical "pragmatism" - really nothing more than disempowering "talking points" - being picked up equally by either "side" as they trickle down to infuse the entire political scene. What I mean by "all bullshit". You hear idiots on the street repeating what they heard FOXnews say just like MoveOn repeats what it is signalled to say by the Democrat Party "powers that be".

Which Fascists take exactly the same money from Lockheed, United Technologies, Exxon/Moil and KBR that the Republican Fascists do.

I really don't know why anyone would be surprised at this, though it does remain shocking - the core reason for 1 million deaths; the bankrupting of our country; the ripping away of our civil liberties and even the catastrophic warming of the entire planet. The Titannic is truly going down, and someone needs to strike at the problem - ideally us, via impeachment - if the trend is to be reversed or even halted where it is.

Semper Fi,

-Matty

To "Simply Feces" Matty, Move-on is MEMBER funded. Bushco is CORPORATE FASCIST funded... you've already been sniffed out here as a trolling plant... don't you have greener pastures to go do-do on?

Cheers, yank :)

...is your own sphincter - as that's where your head is firmly planted.

Show me any proof that I'm a "trolling plant"; what am I "trolling" against? The March 17 rally that I continually promoted? Or the impeachment for which I continue to advocate? Or would it be all the other bloggers who can organize a single coherent thought - you know, like the others who appear to have no problem conversing with me?

The only reason you began your unending accusations against me - with every straw you can try to grasp - is that I caught you out right off the bat with your raging Anti-Semitism.

To which you have now added continuous ad hominem - again, clutching at anything which you can - plus harassment and name-calling.

You sorry bitch.

So also show me your proof that anyone "planted" me here. Who? You've called me Mossad, AIPAC, ADS, MSM - LBJ, IRC, USA, LSD - and God Knows what-all else, but which one can you show that I'm working for? And give me their business office contact info, will you, so I can go collect all my back paychecks!

You hysterical moron.

I DEMAND you PROVE your allegations! I DEMAND an APOLOGY - NOW, NOW, NOW! I DEMAND...

Sincerely - Go FUCK YOURSELF YankHadEnuf,

-Matty "YankHadEnuf & FrederickC Clueless to My Real Identity" in Florida

I'm not ready to jump ship from Move-On ... yet. Move-on has a terrific out-reach email program , and allows other organizations to use it to post their peace rallies/ vigils via email alerts (such as our local CodePink uses MoveOn to get the word out through Move-on emails & then people find the rally by inputting their zip codes). I think this is a great service , as the location and times and dates of such events reaches a much wider audience than our local CodePink private group messageboard.

Pariser , like any organization leader, can run his own show and set his own Mission and Agenda, that is his perogative (is he the primary Moveon organizer? ... please excuse my ignorance even though I belong). People will either join Move-On or not, based on the Mission, but I do agree majority of members oughtta have some say in the Agenda if Pariser wants to maintain his membership.

It sounds like Pariser may have been trying some well-intentioned although manipulative strategy by steering his Move-on members towards an Amendment that he thought would work "best" for the outcome desired, but in the long run it came across as patronizing instead, by blocking Lee option from his poll.

I'm not quite sure what Pariser's intention is, but I've heard through the grapevine that Bush is going to veto the Pelosi Amendment anyways, so we know for a fact that Bush would veto the Lee Amendment.

Maybe Pariser is trying to make Bush look like an even bigger asshole than he already is, even to the GOP, for vetoing a "war package" that has benchmarks & exit plans? Would this then mean that even Republicans would over-ride Bush's veto to vote the Pelosi Amendment?

I agree a fair poll with Pariser's argument that a Lee amendment would have been futile would have kept many Move-on members from moving-on. But as long as Pariser's heart is still in the right place, I'm not quite ready to throw away the baby (THE MISSION) with the bathwater (THE AGENDAS), yet. Maybe Pariser is just human ;-)

I'm not quite ready to give up on "Move On", either . . .

Now, despite what politcal writer Marx said,
"Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member." --Groucho Marx . . .;-)

. . . I think we must all be careful about "group mind" knee-jerk reactions after "loses", kidz . . .;-)

There will be MANY battles to Right the Wrong that has been done to this Great Republic . . . by definition, fragmentation only makes WE THE PEOPLE a weaker FORCE to content with . . .

Matty writes:
"One might be tempted to conclude that, monstrously, BushCo and MoveOn are sharing the same political strategist. But of course, it's far worse than that"

Gee, as Gomer Pyle would say, "Surprize! Surprize! Surprize!" . .;-)

Some of us older kidz have tried to connect the dotz to show the "playbook" that BushCo is using . . . mainly the bad science of John "Fuck You, Buddy" Nash, Edward "Propaganda As Public Relations" Bernays, and Leo "Eveyone Else Is Wrong" Strauss. . .

These elitist societal models all hinge on one crucial axiom . . . there can be no co-operation between players for them to achieve their desired "stasis" with elitist system-control. . .

Less "schizophrenic" Game Theory clearly shows that CO-OPERATIVE strategies trump "every man for himself" strategies in almost every case. . . Bucky Fuller referred to this as "SYNERGY" . . .

Now, I remember how ol' Tricky Dick Nixon's COINTELPRO and MK-CHAOS shiny-shoed G-Men used that "divide and conquer" strategy after EVERY set back during the Vietnam/Watergate daze . . . everytime there was a stumble where we kidz "didn't get what we wanted for Fitzmas", there would be a TON of "WELL, I QUIT!!!!" letters plastered EVERYWHERE to try and make us lose HOPE . . .

These "despair" tactics were VERY effective . . . until the older kidz like Abbie Hoffman started seeing the patterns and realized that there was a hidden hand at work. We didn't have the INTERNET back then, so it was really hard to "level-up" folks to be on the defense against this tactic.

Of course, the Grown-Ups all told us we were "CRAZY" and "LUNATICS" . . . but sure enough, later on through the Freedom of Information Act, the records of these programs were de-classified and released . . . Abbie had been RIGHT after all. . .;-)

Sure, STAY AWAKE and always QUESTION EVERYTHING !!! Learn to use your OWN judgment . . . but be careful "throwing out the baby with the bathwater", like yankhadenuf sez . . .and beware shills that try to talk you into quitting and giving up HOPE . . . for there is ALWAYS HOPE!!! . . .;-)

The BushCo PNAC/AIPC shadow cabal is coming apart at the seams . . . and the so called Leadership of the Democratic Party are being exposed for what they truly are . . . from an "engineering" perspective, this is WONDERFUL because you cannot possibly FIX a problem until you have CLEARLY defined it . . .

. . . As we used to say back in the day, "IF you aren't part of the Solution, THEN you are part of the Problem". . .. This vote, while it appears to be a "LOSS" was a "VICTORY" in terms of gathering INTEL on THE PROBLEM and THE PLAYERS . . . Yeah, it sucked with an acrid sourness that left many with a bitter taste in their mouths . . .

. . . so take the lemons and make lemonade, kidz . . .;-)

"A baby fell out of the window.
You'd think that her head would be split.
But good luck was with her that morning.
She fell in a barrel of...
Shaving cream, be nice and clean!
Shave every day, and you'll always look keen."
- Shaving Cream by Benny Bell

peace.

I agree with the comments here, and I supported a stronger HR Resolution yesterday. But, I'm looking at the banner headline on today's Louisville Courier-Journal. "House OKs Date for Iraq Pullout." This headline is very significant. It announces the first step by Congress to force Bush's hand on the War. And indeed, the vote yesterday did just that. An angry Bush raced to a WH podium within minutes of the vote to trash the HR Dems and any challenge against his War.

The Anti-War coalition must hang together and not splinter over yesterday's vote. Bush will veto whatever statement about the War gets to his desk. So make Bush and the GOP eat the veto. Hammer on the message: Bush and GOP for the War, Dems want to End the War. Thanks.

When I read this line in your post , Anon, I just about went livid. What the hell does this frat-boy bastard have to be angry about! The nation should be outraged that his twins have not signed up for King W's "noble lies". The young Prince Harry of the UK has enlisted and will soon ship out to Iraq, for crying out loud! Are royals less privileged than shrubs? When Bush's daughters' enlist and go to Iraq, then , and ONLY then, can W ever justify his "anger"!

IMPEACH BUSHCO & RICO PNAC/AIPAC> "OUT" ANTI-AMERICAN CABALS !

http://tinyurl.com/2we5dm

http://tinyurl.com/a8uz9

Not about an illegal war, not about impeachable offenses, not about any particular principle - it was gotcha politics and thumbs up to the corporadoes and Zionists, pure and simple. Blue Dogs trump Out of Iraqers. Why should we be surprised?

Anybody seen a scruple lately? I'm looking for INDEPENDENT candidates for Prez already!

Here another unsubscriber.
If MoveOn wants to fund Bush's war and leave me in the dark when asked what I think I'm done with them.
Atkinsopht

the idea that MoveOn left anyone in the dark is complete bullshit.

The 30,000 responses & comments that MoveOn got SUPPORTING the supplemental is proof that MoveOn members knew what they were voting.

guess what I did? I READ THE LINKS THEY PROVIDED, THEN VOTED. And I voted for the suppplemental.

And MoveOn also said that WHEN the Lee Amendment is on the table, they will support that as well. There was no vote for the Lee Amendment. Rep. Lee (WHO WROTE THE THING) get this.....drum roll for the misinformed please....WITHDREW HER OWN AMENDMENT FROM A VOTE.

Ok? So for crying out loud, STOP looking for a scapegoast and focus on the REAL ENEMY: the Bush administration and the Republicans, who got us into this war and are fighting tool and nail to keep us there.

Grow up people. MoveOn is not the fucking enemy here.

In response to the comment about my comment stating that "an angry Bush rushed to a WH podium" right after Friday's HR vote. I agree with you that Bush's anger was misplaced and that the War has not hit him or his family. But I believe the HR vote, setting date for US forces to leave Iraq, alarmed the WH. I want the troops out now, and I actively supported the Lee Amendment, I'm glad that Bush made his angry statement Friday afternoon -- announcing his plan to veto any bill from Congress to end his War.

I dropped them like a hot rock on the day my sister rang me to say "What's this in my email from MoveOn? I was opposed to the Iraq Supplemental, but now I'm confused."

I was not confused. I was among the 6% opposed in their poll, and just appalled at the lateness of the thing, and the way the poll was skewed to get the results they wanted.

We went to a candlelight vigil on the 19th and I was still growling. "MoveOn are very nice people," said my sister. "I prefer the aggressive progressives," I answered.

MoveOn.org can no longer claim 3.2 million members. They lost a lot of members with this slimy screw up.

Did someone say aggressive progressives?

that's exactly what i said and meant

If you've been paying attention to the dialogue that's been going on the last possible weeks on the topic of, to steal a dKos headline, "The Art of the Possible," then it is hard for me to understand how you came to this conclusion. Do you want the war to end? I take it that you do. Does MoveOn? Clearly, yes. So let's not jump ship just yet. We're going to disagree from time to time, but we are still a movement. Think of it this way: if, next time something akin to this comes up, you find yourself in the pro-pragmatism group, and your opinion does end up driving MoveOn's policies and advocacy, you'll know that a strong progressive organization like MoveOn is full of members who are willing to defer to the will of the whole -- in this future case, yours -- rather than risk splintering the movement and threatening our ability to have any impact at all.

A little trust, a little trust.
Embryo

Ditto -- MoveOn is not the enemy or the reason we are stuck in Bush's Iraq Fiasco. Stick with the message -- The HR Dems voted to set a date to pull out from Iraq and Bush will veto the bill.

Moveon.org has made me livid. After being with them for many years, I am done with them. Even the majority of Americans who are not liberal want this war over and the damn Democrats go and fund it once again. Just like signing the blank check to Bush the first time, voting for funding a second time, now here we are once again with Democrats acting like a bunch of cowards. This time, however, the castrated lot cannot blame the Republicans since they ARE the majority.

I read another blog today where someone said only 3% of the membership even bothered to vote.

As far as that "tiny" staff, that staff makes 2-3 times what the normal rate is for this type of org. Eli -- $143,000 a year and the average of the rest of the staff - $87,500. FEC reports are a wonderful (and sometimes shocking) thing. I know they will never get a cent from me nor any of the fundraising parties I used to do.

Wow. So my money was going to pay for incompetent strategy and decision making, overpaid Kool-Aid kids, for the org to work against the best interests of the American people...

If Moveon.org wanted the war to end, they would put their money and mouth to that end.

Thanks for the great diary.

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