Monday, May 09, 2005

Eli Pariser (the MoveOn dude) on the movement, the party and Risk

I knew there was a reason I liked participating in MoveOn so much. They had the best call-from-home program online. They are relentlessly egalitarian. And their Director's got a good interview in Salon today.

It's here.

My favorite parts:

I do draw a distinction between a movement and a party. One of the books I've been reading recently, which I found really interesting, is Richard Viguerie's book "America's Right Turn." If you simply substitute "progressive" for "conservative," it offers a pretty good road map of how to think about these issues. His basic point is that the job of a party is to get elected and the job of a movement is to promote ideas and an ideology. And unless the movement kind of understands that that's its role -- and not getting elected -- and unless the party understands what its relationship is to the movement, you kind of end up with a muddle. Which is not to say that it may not be strategic sometimes for the movement to back candidates who are not precisely in line with its ideology.

At MoveOn, we're the outsiders. We're definitely on the movement side of the equation. We don't want to be the party. We want to be the people on the outside keeping the party accountable to its best self.

----------and then------------------

Do you see MoveOn's role to be one of reaching out to people in the middle who may be coming to terms with these issues now as opposed to rallying, and collecting money from, the base?

I don't know if you've ever played the board game Risk. With Risk, the way you win is to build out from your base. You get a heck of a lot of armies on Australia, or whatever it is, and then you reach out. And if you spread yourself too thin, you kind of implode from all sides because there's no center of gravity. At some point, absolutely, you reach out, but progressives are too quick to skip over the first step. There are a hell of a lot of people who are low-hanging fruit -- who agree with us, who are ready to work on behalf of these issues if they're given an effective way to do so.


The best evidence that 'Democrats with backbone' works well is on Social Security, so far.

No Democrats broke under the pressure to come up with a compromise plan. And this Wall Street giveaway is looking less likely to fly than it did in January.

And he's right that we need to beef up our base. More of us need to get engaged with the Democratic Party. It's not perfect, but nothing is.


FightforJustice said...

Eli thinks it's good that no Dem will offer a plan to save SS?! GW offers a progressive reduction in the growth of benefits, and all the supposed champions of the poor do is attack him.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

That's the one point Bush deserves credit on -- trimming benefits for the wealthiest. And he's not getting any from the Dems! But the private accounts disaster is the big threat, and I think the Dems are right not to engage in that private accounts issue at all.

Carl Nyberg said...

It's a trap.

As soon as Social Security treats people of different income levels differently, the GOP will start playing off the income levels against each other to reduce the program.

The GOP could offer solvency plans that don't involve setting the stage for class warfare. But that's the whole point of tinkering with the program for the Republicans.