MoveOn (formerly known as MoveOn.org) is an American progressive public policy advocacy group and political action committee. Formed in 1998 in response to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives, MoveOn.org has raised millions of dollars for left-wing candidates in the United States of America. It also runs a petition Website similar to Change.org.
MoveOn comprises two legal entities, organized under different sections of U.S. tax and election laws. MoveOn.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, and was formerly called MoveOn.org. It focuses on education and advocacy on national issues. MoveOn.org Political Action is a federal political action committee, and was formerly known as MoveOn PAC. It contributes to the campaigns of many candidates across the country. MoveOn describes the legal structure of the Civic Action that of "a California nonprofit public-benefit corporation" and MoveOn.org Political Action that of "a California nonprofit mutual benefit corporation," and refers to both corporations collectively as "MoveOn".
Anna Galland is the executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action and Ilya Sheyman is the executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action. The president of MoveOn's board is former executive director, Justin Ruben. Co-founder Joan Blades is also on the board. Past board members include co-founder Wes Boyd, former executive director Eli Pariser, and former Chief Operating Officer Carrie Olson.
MoveOn.org's structure also incorporates groups of councils across the country. These councils consist of at least 4 active members in a local area who are tasked with planning and executing events, as well as fostering a sense of local identity. This system of councils is used to help MoveOn.org transition from an online presence to an on foot presence in communities across the United States and helps MoveOn.org establish this culture of organizing that they are pushing for. MoveOn.org now has over 250 local councils and one in every state.
MoveOn started in 1998 as an e-mail group, MoveOn.org, created by software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems. They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to "censure President Clinton and move on", as opposed to impeaching him. The petition, passed around by word of mouth, gathered half a million signatures but did not dissuade Congress from impeaching the President. The couple went on to start similar campaigns calling for arms inspections rather than an invasion of Iraq, and campaign finance reform.
Since 1998, MoveOn has raised millions of dollars for many Democratic candidates. In November 2007, a drive spearheaded by MoveOn caused Facebook to change its controversial new "Beacon" program, which notified Facebook users about purchases by people on their friends list.
In 2016, MoveOn endorsed U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States after holding online elections in which 340,665 members reportedly cast their ballot. 78.6 percent of these supported the junior Senator from Vermont, while 14.6 percent and 0.9 percent supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, respectively.
MoveOn.org has advertised in new and traditional media formats, with publicity strategies including billboards, bus signs, and bumper stickers.
MoveOn has collaborated with groups in organizing street demonstrations, bake sales, house parties, and other opportunities.
Changes in federal election laws have impacted groups like MoveOn. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform legislation, which went into effect in 2002, allows political parties to raise larger amounts of "hard money" contributions, but bans unlimited soft money contributions to the national political parties and prohibits federal officeholders from soliciting "soft money." MoveOn, like many other political organizations which sought to influence the 2004 election, was able to circumvent this legislation using a 527 group, which became inactive in 2005 and closed in 2008.
In preparation for the 2006 midterm elections, MoveOn created a new system for soliciting potential voters named Call for Change. As part of the Call for Change effort, MoveOn reported that it placed over seven million phone calls to registered voters.
On May 16, 2011, MoveOn.org debuted SignOn.org, a non-profit hosting service for Internet petitions, and in 2013, SignOn.org became MoveOn Petitions. The MoveOn Petitions campaigning platform competes with other, similar hosts such as Change.org, Avaaz and PetitionOnline.
In December 2014, MoveOn.org began their campaign to get Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to run to be the 45th President of the United States. MoveOn.org's plan to get Warren to run for office included getting their large base of supporters to sign a petition urging Warren to run, spending roughly a million dollars on television advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that kicked off the presidential nomination process, and creating a website called "Run Warren Run". When asked about the "Run Warren Run" campaign, Ilya Sheyman, MoveOn.org's executive director, made it clear that the mindset behind the campaign was to show Senator Warren that there was a path for her to the presidency and that there was a substantial amount of grass-roots energy in key states that would support her if she chose to do so. By the end of the campaign, MoveOn.org got 365,000 signatures showing support for Warren and had planned, organized, and executed over 400 events. In the end, Warren did not run for the 2016 presidency.
After failing to get Senator Warren to run for the presidency, MoveOn.org chose to back Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after 78% of its membership voted in favor of him rather than Hillary Clinton or Martin O'Malley. Ilya Sheyman claimed that Bernie Sanders' consistent fortitude in regards to standing up to big money and corporate interests really resonated with their members.
In response to the rhetoric of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election, a group of over 100 celebrities launched the "United Against Hate" campaign hosted by MoveOn.org. The large list of celebrities in support of the campaign attracted the media's attention. The celebrities, from a range of industries, primarily the film industry, include: Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Julianne Moore, Macklemore, and Neil Patrick Harris. The goal of the campaign was to stop Trump, whom they viewed as a "dangerous" and "divisive" leader. Trump went on to win the 2016 Presidential Election.
From the start, MoveOn.org's model was able to combine net activism with meaningful political activism. As MoveOn.org developed its presence within politics into the one that it has today, the model and structure that they developed became desirable to other organizations who face similar challenges. One person who aided in the internationalization of the MoveOn Model is MoveOn.org's former advocacy director, Ben Brandzel. In 2007 after leaving MoveOn to work on John Edwards presidential campaign, Brandzel headed to Australia to help a young Internet driven group called GetUp!. According to their website, GetUp! is "an independent movement to build a progressive Australia and bring participation back into [their] democracy." When Brandzel arrived in Australia to help GetUp!, he realized that GetUp! was facing similar opportunities and challenges to MoveOn.org. Brandzel then helped GetUp! implement similar structure and campaigns as MoveOn.org and they were able to achieve results at a rate that he says were "three times the pace of MoveOn in the U.S." From this, he concluded that the success MoveOn.org achieved was not a fluke, rather it was a model that could be applied to different scenarios and could help other organizations achieve similar results in regards to net and political activism. MoveOn.org's model helped shape and mold GetUp!'s organizational leadership in online campaigning, the communication within the organization, and their theory on how to create concrete political change.
MoveOn was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League, among others, when a member-submitted advertisement which drew parallels between President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler was submitted to their online ad contest "Bush in 30 Seconds". The ad was part of an online MoveOn-sponsored contest during the 2004 presidential election in which members were invited to create and submit political ads challenging President Bush and his administration. The ad was quickly pulled off the website.
Fox News criticized the organization after it successfully encouraged the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates not to attend two debates sponsored by the network. Fox News advisor David Rhodes and the network's commentators Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly have also made accusations that MoveOn.org "owns" the Democratic Party and George Soros "owns" MoveOn.org.
Google and MoveOn have been accused of selective adherence to trademark law for removing ads from Google Adwords for Maine Senator Susan Collins, citing infringement of MoveOn trademarks.Wired stated on October 15, 2007, that the "left-leaning political advocacy group, MoveOn.org, is backing down" and will allow Google to show the ads. Moveon.org communications director Jennifer Lindenauer said: "We don't want to support a policy that denies people freedom of expression."
On June 17, 2008, MoveOn emailed its members stating that it had produced "the most effective TV ad we've ever created." The ad depicts a mother telling Republican senator and presumptive nominee John McCain that she will not let him use her infant son, Alex, as a soldier in the war in Iraq. Subsequent to the ad's release, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, "praised" MoveOn for "10 years of making even people who agree with you cringe."The New York Times op/ed contributor Bill Kristol criticized the ad in an essay, including pointing out that the "United States has an all-volunteer Army. Alex won't be drafted, and his mommy can't enlist him. He can decide when he's an adult whether he wants to serve."
In 2007, MoveOn was criticized by 31 Republican senators and one independent senator for running a print ad in The New York Times that questioned the personal integrity of General David Petraeus, with headlines such as "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and "Cooking the Books for the White House". On September 20, 2007, the Senate passed an amendment by Republican John Cornyn of Texas designed to "strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus". All forty-nine Republican Senators, as well as twenty-two Democratic Senators, voted in support. The House passed a similar resolution by a 341-79 vote on September 26, 2007.
On September 20, 2007, The Washington Post stated: "Democrats blamed the group Moveon.org for giving moderate Republicans a ready excuse for staying with Bush and for giving Bush and his supporters a way to divert attention away from the war."
The New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt later stated in an op-ed that MoveOn was mistakenly charged US$77,000 less for the ad than it should have been under Times policies, and MoveOn announced that it would pay The New York Times the difference in price.
MoveOn.org ran more ads using a 'betrayal' theme, with TV spots targeting former President Bush and former Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani ran his own full-page ad in The New York Times on September 14, 2007. Giuliani asked for and received a similar reduced fee as Moveon.org, paying US$65,000.
Moveon.org has been part of the anti-Trump movement. It has taken credit for helping to promote the 2016 Donald Trump Chicago rally protest, and for paying for printing protest signs and a banner.
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