Thursday, February 07, 2008

Do Liberals Need to be Told Whom to Vote For?

For a few years now I have received emails from MoveOn. I felt that MoveOn served to fill a gap in American politics where the right wing is often loud, vitriolic and brash. The liberal side of the political arena is usually represented by slightly anemic organizations such as PBS and NPR. These organizations, in their journalistic quest to appear objective, often end up not standing clearly for or against specific policies or decisions. MoveOn, on the other hand, draws its strength and voice from its avowedly democratic leanings. It has given all those stifled by Fox, Bush & Limbaugh hope and allowed them to pump their fists in the air and get behind a cause too.

MoveOn has been working tirelessly for the upcoming elections to mobilize the votes and return a democrat to the White House. While MoveOn started as a civic action group, it has metamorphosed into a two-headed organization - a civic action group and a political action committee. MoveOn PAC has been endorsing candidates and contributing to their coffers. American politics is, as it is, too institutionalized with various interest groups, lobbies and organizations trying to influence the electoral result with money. MoveOn, at least initially, stood apart as a grass-roots email-based movement of liberally-inclined individuals. While for the last couple of years, MoveOn gave Senator Clinton a lot of ether-time and generated support for her, it has now come out and endorsed Barack Obama as the candidate it wants members to back this election year. Why would an organization that served as a conduit for liberal opinions "decide" who the democratic candidate should be for millions of liberals?

This will be a historic election in more ways than one. We have the possibility of having the first woman president or the first president of mixed race. But instead of letting the candidates fight for the hearts of the people, MoveOn wants to hand one an advantage. This is condescending in the extreme to the American liberal voter. Bringing out the liberal vote and spearheading policy movements is a good agenda. It is inclusive and it influences the electoral process in positive ways by fighting electoral apathy and encouraging political debate. But presuming to choose the right leader for a party or a nation is fractious and damaging to the political process. MoveOn PAC's actions may drive away some of the same voters its civic action group is trying to mobilize.

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