Holds Virtual Primary

| June 23, 2003

?Just lead.? That?s the message Wes Boyd and Joan Blades, co-founders of, delivered last month to a room full of congressional Democrats. ?When you fight,? they said, ?it makes you stronger.? Huh? What a novel idea! Strange as it may sound, according to Boyd, who related this story a couple of weeks ago at the PlaNetwork conference, a gathering of progressive technology activists in San Francisco, that?s exactly how many of the Washington Democrats they were speaking to reacted., the Internet organizing force best known for its role in galvanizing opposition to the recent war in Iraq, has set its sites on the 2004 presidential elections. In an effort to yank the Democratic Party back to its progressive roots, the group will hold a virtual ?primary? on June 24-25, polling its 1.4 million members about their preferences among the nine Democrats in the race. ?In most presidential primary processes,? MoveOn says in its announcement of the primary, ?pundits, pollsters, and wealthy donors determine the outcome long before the actual primaries. By the time the rest of us cast our ballots, the nomination is typically a done deal.?

MoveOn?s primary is an attempt to counterbalance the power of the kingmakers in Washington, giving regular voters an early voice in the process. If one candidate wins a majority, MoveOn?s PAC will endorse them and immediately begin raising money and organizing volunteers for their campaign. If no one wins, MoveOn will set up tools to facilitate fundraising and organizing for all of the candidates, and may conduct another primary vote in the future.

An endorsement from MoveOn at this point could provide a critical early boost for what is guaranteed to be a more progressive candidate than the Democrats would choose on their own. And, the gods willing, it will help stiffen the spine of the increasingly moribund Democratic Party. Many observers blame the party?s apparent lack of conviction for the drubbing it took across the country in the 2002 elections.

Could MoveOn make the Democratic Party obsolete? Not very likely. But it could provide just the kick in the pants the Democrats need to stop their decades-long drift to the right and ?just lead,? for a change.
?Leif Utne

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