Holds Virtual Primary

?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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