Friday, December 10, 2004

Bad move from MoveOn

First, let it be known that I am a big fan of MoveOn. I've supported them from the beginning when they first started as a counter to the Clinton impeachment. I've defended them against Peter Beinert's call to purge them from the Democratic party. I will continue to defend them as a valuable partner in reforming the Democratic party.

Having said that, I think their declaration of war on the Democratic establishment is a serious tactical error.

I agree with the essence of their latest campaign (I've signed the petition) that the next DNC chair should be someone who represents the Democratic base instead of corporate lobbyists. But I think they made a mistake in personalizing the campaign by attacking Terry McAuliffe by name.

This is not because I don't think McAuliffe isn't worthy of criticism. But, by personalizing the campaign, they have forced the hand of establishment Dems who actually might be sympathetic to our cause. They have needlessly created a dividing line within the party at a time when we need to come to a mutual understanding about our future. Just as an example, I heard Rep. Barney Frank on Air America this morning defending McAuliffe against MoveOn's attack. Frank is a good guy who is on our side. But MoveOn's broadside essentially forced him to close ranks.

Bad move.

This is something people on this side of the Reform aisle need to understand: we can't succeed in the reform mission if we don't win over some of the people on the other side. We can do so without compromising our principles. We can do so by persuading them with argument and with achievements. We cannot do so if we needlessly personalize the struggle.

Peter Beinert made the same mistake in his call to purge the Democratic party of Michael Moore and MoveOn. MoveOn is making the same mistake in their call to purge the party of Terry McAuliffe.

They are two sides of the same coin. A coin we can't afford.

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