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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

John Stauber on why MoveOn is not a movement.

MoveOn has fallen into the same top-down rut that all the big national public interest and environmental groups are in. MoveOn raises millions and millions of dollars each year, but the dollars go into marketing, advertising, and candidates, and not into empowering the 3.2 million people on their list. Similarly, the Big Green environmental organizations, the largest DC-based environmental lobby and marketing entities like Environmental Defense, NRDC and others, together raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year from foundations and grassroots individuals. Billions of dollars over the past decade have been raised and spent by these ten or so largest and best branded environmental (non-profit) corporations. Yet despite the popularity of the environmental cause and the way environmental health issues cut across partisan politics, despite the fire and volunteerism at the grassroots where people are fighting and winning battles such as stopping new coal plants, this national movement of giant non-profit lobby organizations is politically impotent. Why? Because ever since the 1970s all the money that flows from the grassroots and from foundations, for the most part, is spent on everything but empowering and organizing and assisting the grassroots, who are starved of the money for organizers, offices, communications, strategy development and political training.

My criticisms of MoveOn are in a similar vein. If you want a cheerleader and fundraiser for the Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party, then MoveOn is the ticket. But MoveOn is not a movement, nor will it spawn one.