Joe Conason's Journal

A number of MoveOn members have written in to defend their online preference poll. Here's a sample.

By Salon Staff
Published June 26, 2003 12:26PM (EDT)

Moving right (or left) along
In deference to's grass-roots spirit -- and because I've received so many diverse and passionate responses on the subject of its online preference poll -- I think it's appropriate to publish a few excerpts from those letters today. I'll probably comment further after the results are reported, but meanwhile here is a sample of what readers have said:

"I too was startled by your tone in both yesterday's post and today's response. I just don't understand why Salon, and some other sources I read and view (even 'The Daily Show'!) seem to be so negative about ... "

"I've been a MoveOn member since 1998. The rules were clear: There was a previous straw poll, in which MoveOn stated that the top three finishers would be permitted to send letters to ask for support. These rules were neutral and they were followed ... Furthermore, all of the candidates got to place their statements on the site, on the same page that all voters must visit. Go visit the MoveOn site for yourself, and see how easy it is to find each candidate's statement ... "

"I am a member of MoveOn ... The other candidates' statements were not e-mailed out, but are available on the MoveOn Web site ... Certainly, this may not seem fair to the other candidates, but I think that it is an elegant way to accomplish what I believe to be the real goal of the poll: to foster solidarity behind a Democratic candidate in order to avoid the general disillusionment with the Democratic candidates and the party itself that was felt by so many liberal-leaning Democrats in the 2000 election. I haven't seen this specifically expressed as the motivation behind the primary, but it seems apparent from the way MoveOn is conducting the voting ... Perhaps the mainstream media like to paint everything in terms of winners and losers, but I applaud MoveOn for listening to its members and attempting to forge a consensus instead."

"I voted this a.m. on and the candidate was John Kerry ... because I believe that Kerry can beat Bush. There was an attempt by the Freepers to register and get Sharpton elected but they don't have the numbers ... What I have seen in the left chat rooms is a certain enthusiasm for the upcoming election that I haven't seen before. What does do is keep all these diverse supporters of various candidates united for what happens after the primaries ..."

"Don't be bad mouthin' my man Howie. I don't even care if the Democrats lose, I would rather lose with a candidate who might expose Bush for the thin-skinned, petty, grown-up frat boy that he really is as president. I really think the Republicans have enough hands on enough levers, and with so much money, they'll figure out a way to steal this election, too. But, oh, for the chance to see someone tell Bush off right to his face in a national debate ... Priceless."

"With over 210,000 votes, more than the total in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2000, it is hard for me to understand why you think the MoveOn primary is less important than those irritatingly irrelevant and overhyped publicity stunts in the Midwest and New England."

"Here's how I ended up at MoveOn, and with Dean: In agony over our current administration and the miserable failings of the Democratic Party to speak up, I was looking for a candidate who seemed articulate and mature and willing to speak truths about this president's policies without being shrill. I read about the candidates and Dean seemed the best combination of the qualities I was looking for ... I went with him based on his policies and eloquence."

"Your latest article about the Wall Street Journal editorial page endorsing Dean has me wondering also if they are trying to build an effort to help Dean knock Kerry out in New Hampshire -- because they and the rest of the Republican Party fear Kerry and know they can beat Dean ... "

"I think MoveOn is wonderful, but I worry that the results of the online poll will be overblown. The Democrats need a winning ticket, and I sense that many MoveOn voters won't necessarily take that into consideration ... I've also read that right-wing Web sites are encouraging their followers to stuff the ballot box for candidates who can't win. Al Sharpton was a favorite. Those who read the [Wall Street Journal editorial] may now switch to Dean ... "

" is more than your blog says it is: It's hope for the rest of us -- who have been left out since Florida, left out of war decisions, FCC decisions, environmental decisions, judicial decisions ... Al From and Terry McAuliffe are about 10 years behind -- whereas MoveOn and other like-minded organizations are catching those of us who: 1) can contribute small amounts of money; 2) believe in a candidate to get our country back on the right track; 3) feel we are not being represented; and 4) are not going to take it anymore ... ."
[10:45 a.m. PDT, June 26, 2003

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