Rolling Stone has an interesting piece on how MoveOn.org is changing the Democratic Party.
I think MoveOn.org is an absolutely wonderful gift to the party – the Republican Party that is. MoveOn.org is led by the most radical fringe of the Democratic Party. It constantly agitates for a far-left agenda that forces candidates to bow towards ideologies that are politically suicidal in Middle America. As the article notes:
But many party insiders worry that an Internet insurgency working hand in hand with a former Vermont governor will only succeed in pushing the party so far to the left that it can’t compete in the red states. “It’s electoral suicide,” says Dan Gerstein, a former strategist for Joe Lieberman’s presidential campaign. MoveOn committed a series of costly blunders last fall: It failed to remove two entries that compared Bush to Hitler from its online ad contest, and its expensive television spots barely registered in the campaign. One conservative commentator, alluding to MoveOn’s breathless promotion of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, branded the group the “MooreOn” wing of the party. All of which leaves political veterans wondering: As MoveOn becomes a vital part of the Democratic establishment, will its take-no-prisoners attitude marginalize the party and strengthen the Republican stranglehold on power?
“My view of MoveOn is that they’re like muscular adolescents,” says Rosenberg. “Their body has grown too quickly — they’re going to make mistakes.”
MoveOn’s reflexive and visceral anti-Bush attitudes, its political zealotry towards the “progressive” agenda, and its sudden control over the Democratic Party are all recipes for political disaster. Parties that allow small minorities to control the party apparatus don’t do so well, especially against parties that are trying to forge broad coalitions. MoveOn.org more than likely alienated more voters than they attracted through their careless and inflammatory rhetoric. While the Republicans cast off the Pat Buchanan wing of the party, the Democrats are embracing the radicalism of Howard Dean and MoveOn.org. If the Democrats want to win, that’s not a prudent way of going about it. As Anthony Downs figured out, the party that can best appeal to the center is the party that will win — the Democrats are abandoning the center to appeal to a fanatical but small base. The dynamics of American elections have always punished parties who don’t concentrate on expanding their base to the middle.
MoveOn’s primary problem is that it’s a far-left echo chamber:
But there’s little evidence that the huge investment yielded a political profit. If speaking to the center was MoveOn’s goal, “they failed miserably,” says Greg Strimple, a media consultant who advised the Senate campaigns of three GOP moderates. “None of their ads had an impact on the center electorate that needed to be swung.” If the group’s leadership saw anything broken with its advertising during the campaign, though, it shows no signs of fixing it. In a rush to get its new Social Security ad on the air, MoveOn didn’t even test it.
The ad, which depicts senior citizens performing manual labor, was not only paid for by MoveOn members but was also created by them. This kind of closed feedback loop is indicative of a larger problem: the group’s almost hermetic left-wing insularity. “We don’t get around much,” acknowledges Boyd. “We tend to all stay in front of our keyboards and do the work.”
Which is not the way you build a responsible political organization. MoveOn.org is the type of organization which is so convinced of its own moral superiority and their opposition’s evil that they have lost all touch with the world. If that’s the kind of organization that’s going to lead the Democrats, not only will they lose, but it’s a good thing for our democracy that they do until they learn that singing to the choir isn’t the way American politics work.