President Bush’s TV ad campaign for the 2004 election
began earlier this week with a barrage of commercials both on
broadcast and cable television. To combat this onslaught, the
left-leaning MoveOn.org Voter Fund also started running its own
bombardment of ads.

The MoveOn organization, which spent nearly $2 million last week
in 17 battleground states, including Michigan, can air an unlimited
number of TV advertisements. Independent groups that are known as
527s are virtually unrestricted in the realm of political
advertisement due to a tax loophole in the McCain-Feingold campaign
finance reform act.

The group and its members have pledged to “preserve a
level playing field in the national issue debate this year”
via small donations by millions of Americans, thus “bringing
ordinary people back into politics,” states their
website.

With only eight months left until the November election, John
Kerry and his team of fundraisers, no matter how tirelessly they
work, will by no means achieve the financial successes of the Bush
organization. This is where MoveOn fits into the picture. Via the
Internet, MoveOn offers a hands-on approach towards politics
through grassroots campaigning and local involvement.

Mike Phillips, vice-president of University of Michigan College
Republicans, chastises MoveOn’s ad blitz for
“portraying the President’s policies in a distorted
manner that is not conducive and fair political debate.” He
further characterizes the use of such “shadow
organizations” that fling millions at the media as, “an
indicator of the sad future for political advertisement as a result
of the McCain-Feingold ban on the use of
‘soft-money.’”

By pioneering a simple, yet effective method to bring democracy
back to the masses (or at least those with an Internet connection),
MoveOn places the burden and responsibility of political action on
the masses. The organization provides “ActionForum,” a
proprietary software program, to all registered users. Using this
software, users can propose new issues, prioritize older issues and
develop new strategies to disseminate these suggestions. Other
users are then encouraged to respond to these issues and strategies
in a similar manner through critical analysis and lively discussion
in a message board-like system.

Depending on how well an issue is supported, will rise or fall
in the overall hierarchy of issues maintained by the central
database. Once an issue reaches a certain level of support, members
of MoveOn’s Political Action Committee starts lobbying
politicians in Washington.

According to MoveOn.org, campaign finance reform and topics
related to environmental policy were the main issues among its
users during 2000. The war with Iraq and the media are two of the
most controversial topics at the moment.

Despite the popularity of MoveOn in Democratic circles, Phillips
maintains that this organization “doesn’t inspire
meaningful political debate,” between Democrats and
Republicans, by focusing solely on “negative commentary as
opposed to positive change.”

One of the grassroots-style approaches MoveOn has taken involves
a large campaign to defeat the president in the upcoming election
via massive voter turnout. People involved in this campaign have
given themselves the daunting task of “taking back democracy,
city by city, block by block, and voter by voter,” as the
website states.

Regardless of your position on the political spectrum,
MoveOn.org successes, in terms of raising money, are nothing to
scoff at. To check out this inspiring grassroots political
movement, visit
“http://www.moveon.org”>www.moveon.org.

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