MoveOn Launches Campaign for Bold Progressive Reforms as the Obama Era Begins
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Huge throngs came to Washington to watch President-elect Barack Obama get sworn into office and attend one, or if they were lucky, several balls, parties and events. Widely billed as the biggest celebration ever to come to town, visitors couldn't help but notice that the grassroots progressive groups that helped get Obama elected are far from fading into the background until the next round of elections. Instead, those visitors -- and perhaps some Washington insiders, too -- were forced to see the advertisements spread across D.C.'s transit system proclaiming that MoveOn.org is preparing to throw its full weight behind immediately launching bold progressive reforms.
All last year, 5 million members of the MoveOn organization put their blood, sweat, tears and money behind Obama. The massive group reportedly spent $84 million and worked 20 million volunteer hours to help elect Obama. Now with his inauguration around the corner, MoveOn members, among other groups, such as the 2 million-strong Service Employees International Union, are not-so-subtly reminding Obama of their work to put him in the Oval Office and dedicating themselves to supporting his progressive agenda.
"At this historic moment, we want to recognize the real folks who helped Obama to win this election and who will go on to help achieve the change this country needs," said Eli Pariser, MoveOn's executive director.
With ads put in place last week and running during inauguration week on buses, bus shelters, subway trains and rail stations, the "Real Voices for Change" campaign promises to give Obama help in moving priority issues through Congress.
"Special interests and their friends in Congress should see these ads and take notice -- the grassroots powerhouse that got this president elected isn't going anywhere until Congress makes the real policy changes that matter to most Americans," Pariser said, announcing the campaign.
But MoveOn's commitment to Obama is no stretch for the progressive organization. The Real Voices for Change campaign concentrates on issues, chosen by members at parties, events and in a survey MoveOn sent to its members immediately following the election, that have long been centerpieces of the progressive movement. But now, because the issues correlate so strongly with Obama's stated goals for this time of financial crisis, the progressive community has an ally in power, and they're ready to work. The tagline at the bottom of all MoveOn's new ads reads: "5 million members. Ready to get started."
At the more than 1,200 post-election parties and in the survey, MoveOn members chose "universal health care," "economic recovery and job creation," "build a green economy, stop climate change" and "end the Iraq war" as their advocacy goals for 2009. Nearly half the members in the survey voted for ending the 6-year-old misadventure in Iraq and working to build a green economy. More than 60 percent of members voted to enact universal health care and working toward economic recovery and creating new jobs for Americans.
The goals are largely the same ones that Obama has said he plans to have his first term judged on, especially because of the turbulence in the markets and recent job losses and other financial hardships being visited on Americans of all stripes. But Obama has also made strong commitments that are directly aimed at easing the burden of the current financial crisis on Americans. He plans on bolstering employment with his ambitious economic recovery plan and the creation of a "green jobs" sector by investing political capital into developing environmentally friendly technologies at home.
The No. 1 priority for the group is universal health care. The health care deficit in America, with nearly one-sixth of the population, some 46 million people, without health insurance, is not only a woeful statistic on its own for the self-proclaimed richest country in the world, but is both a strain on and a symptom of the nation's economic troubles.