Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Annointed son (more furor)

MoveOn, a national liberal activist organization, has taken notice of state-level politics in Pennsylvania, specifically in next year's U.S. Senate race. Progressives nationwide are interested in ousting high-visibility conservative Rick Santorum, and perhaps MoveOn hoped to jump-start his opponent with an early endorsement. But their choice to run a virtual push-pull of PA members (omitting, for example, Casey's controversial stances on abortion and Iraq) has many previous supporters and potential allies up in arms. Gwen Shaffer at the Philadelpha Weekly does a good job of reporting the incident and capturing the outrage, especially among Pennacchio supporters, who already resent the way that the outcome of next spring's primary is taken as a given.
These sentiments dominate the posts about the race on MoveOn's own blog, the Action Forum. As of June 29, about 30 messages reamed out the organization for "playing nice" with the Democratic National Committee, for supporting a "carbon copy of Santorum," and for "throwing the poll."
MoveOn has already raised more than $150k for Casey, but that may come at the cost of some of its supporters' loyalty:
Frustration with the MoveOn poll has been a "big topic of discussion" at political gatherings during the past couple weeks, says Kathi Ember, Pennsylvania state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. "It's ironic, considering that MoveOn is responsible for getting many of my peers involved in politics in the first place."
Indeed, Philly blogger Eligere has announced her departure from MoveOn over the way this was handled. Given the widespread desire to oust Santorum, it's too bad that MoveOn had to wade in so gracelessly, sowing dissent among liberals just starting to organize for local action. Only time will tell whether the early clout they bring will be worth its cost in potential activists.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rep. Mark B. Cohen said...

There really is no good way for organizations to make endorsements, and in the past progresive organizations have splintered, atrophied, and died as a result of endorsement struggles.

As one who believes that having progressive organizations is a necessity for stopping our seemingly endless right wing drift, my strong preference is that organizations allow the formation of committees or subcommittees to work for candidates, populated by those members who believe in any given candidate.

Large numbers of people attracted to progressive organizations deeply resent either being badgered to work for someone they do not believe in, or being prevented from working for someone they believe in.

The ultimate group that counts is not any one organization, but the electorate as a whole. All too often fighting over organizational endorsments takes the place of working to build public support within the electorate, and leads to a massive and futile diversion of energies as well as a bitterness that lasts long after the name and backround of the contested candidate is forgotten.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disgruntled "progessive" activists disappointed with the MoveOn's Casey endorsement are emblematic of why Democrats can't get their crap together; let's win some races here, to heck with strict adherence to liberal orthodoxy. Once our team is in, then we'll argue the finer points of our philosophy.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Dumplingeater said...

MoveOn's endorsement may cost MoveOn some support, but will it significantly alter the outcome of the inevitable race between Santorum and Casey? I think not. Regardless of MoveOn's involvement, eventually "progressives" would have fallen in line voting for a lesser of two evils once again anyway. Of course, it would be nice if the message could be delivered to MoveOn that despite their proclamations otherwise, they're turning out to be little better than the DNC in advocating a "Republican-lite" approach. (I was similarly disappointed when MoveOn fell in step unconditionally supporting Kerry in the presidential race.) Still, MoveOn's endorsement was derived from a vote of its members. Outrage at MoveOn seems misplaced to me. Was their poll biased? Perhaps. But the real issue, once again, is the important role of "real" progressive grassroots organizing. Progressives disappointed with MoveOn should look in the mirror and begin knocking on doors. In the meantime MoveOn, just like the DNC, will be chasing the almighty dollar in its political positioning. If Casey had not acquired a 2/3 majority of support from MoveOn's members, how much money is it likely MoveOn would have collected to funnel into the race?

12:00 AM  

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