What is MoveOn?
MoveOn is more than 5 million regular folks from all across the country who work together for a more progressive America. It was founded in 1998 and has evolved into one of the largest progressive organizations in the country. MoveOn is a service—a way for concerned citizens to find their political voice in a system dominated by big money and powerful special interests.
What's MoveOn's relationship to Occupy Wall Street?
MoveOn stands in solidarity with the brave protesters at Occupy Wall Street, but we're not Occupy Wall Street and we're not trying to become Occupy Wall Street. That said, many individual MoveOn members have chosen to participate in their local occupations and many others have provided material support.
MoveOn's members agree with many of the core beliefs that protesters at Occupy Wall Street have expressed—that corporations have far too much power in our political system, that our economy is only working for the richest 1% of Americans while leaving 99% of us behind, and that big Wall Street banks wrecked our economy and were never held accountable.
And as would be true with any diverse, vibrant movement like Occupy Wall Street, MoveOn members don't agree with everything Occupy Wall Street supporters say. But we're grateful for the amazing work that Occupy Wall Street has done to highlight deep problems that for too long have been ignored in public discussions.
What does it mean that MoveOn is "standing in solidarity" with Occupy Wall Street. What has MoveOn done to help?
MoveOn members across the country have taken a variety of actions to stand with protesters, to join them, to defend their right to protest, and to get out the amazing stories about what they're doing.
Here are some ways MoveOn members have stood in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street:
- We joined with unions and others to organize a solidarity march from Foley Square down to Occupy Wall Street on October 5 and thousands of MoveOn members joined in.
- Tens of thousands of MoveOn members participated in a Virtual March on October 5, submitting statements of support that were projected onto a building across from Zuccotti Park.
- We asked our members near occupations in cities across the country to "contribute a few dollars, donate materials, or go down and participate," and sent them the link to their nearest occupation.
- When Mayor Bloomberg threatened to evict Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park, more than 325,000 MoveOn members signed a petition to Bloomberg demanding he not evict them. The petition signatures were delivered to City Hall that night by a march from Occupy Wall Street. At the same time, thousands of MoveOn members called the city demanding they stop the eviction, and hundreds of New York MoveOn members headed to Zuccotti Park at 6 a.m. to stand in solidarity with the protesters and defend their right to peaceably assemble. When Bloomberg backed down, we sent around a video of the moment.
- Thousands of MoveOn members around the country participated in Occupy events on October 15.
- As occupiers in other cities have faced evictions, local MoveOn members have organized to defend their right to peaceably assemble.
- And throughout it all, we used our homepage and our email list to distribute videos, interviews, and other pieces of content of great content—some produced by MoveOn and some produced by others—documenting the Occupy Wall Street movement to make sure that people could get stories that weren't being told by the mainstream media.
Did MoveOn decide to work on economic issues because of Occupy Wall Street?
MoveOn has been working on economic issues and issues of corporate power for years.
Last year, MoveOn worked with partners to come up with a pledge to Fight Washington Corruption to oppose the corporate takeover of our democracy, including working to overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision giving corporations the right to spend unlimited money in elections. And earlier this summer, more than 100,000 MoveOn members joined with members of other organizations to formulate the Contract for the American Dream—a 10-point plan to make an economy that works for all of us.
Who funds MoveOn?
MoveOn is entirely funded by its members—small donors giving small donations. Last year, our average donation was just $25.74. This year, it's even lower: $20.00. And we've had more than 300,000 different donors since the beginning of 2010.
We fund our activities on an as-we-go basis. So when we start a new campaign or start a new action, we ask our members to fund us so we can take that action.
MoveOn Political Action, our federal political action committee, publicly discloses all donations over $200 to the Federal Election Commission and does not take more than $5,000 in any year from any individual, as required by law. MoveOn Civic Action, our c(4) organization, similarly does not solicit large donations and while it legally could accept large contributions, we've chosen to limit contributions to the same level as the PAC.
Is MoveOn claiming to fundraise on behalf of Occupy Wall Street?
No. MoveOn has only fundraised for itself twice since #Occupy Wall Street began and both fundraisers were focused on raising money for MoveOn projects.
One fundraiser, sent the week of September 19, was to air an ad supporting the "Buffett Rule" so millionaires don't pay a lower tax rate than middle-class families. The other was to fund our campaigning to win Jobs Not Cuts in Washington and to Make Wall Street Pay. It references the great success that Occupy Wall Street has had at shifting the national conversation about the economy, but is careful to lay out clearly the MoveOn activities that need support so that MoveOn members can make an informed decision about whether our campaign is something they want to donate to.
Is MoveOn funded by George Soros or other billionaires?
As detailed above, MoveOn is entirely funded by small donations from its members. Fox News and other right-wing sources insist on lying about this fact, but that doesn't make it any less true.
George Soros gave a sizable donation to MoveOn Voter Fund in 2004 to match the donations coming from small donors aimed at stopping President Bush's horrible policies. He hasn't given since and MoveOn's Voter Fund, a 527 organization, was closed down after the 2004 election.
Is MoveOn a front for the Democratic Party?
We believe working together to elect candidates who share our values and defeat those who don't is a key ways for progressives to build the power we need to win economic and other progressive reform. But MoveOn is and always has been an independent organization. By law, MoveOn Political Action's ability to coordinate with or donate directly to any candidate is severely restricted. We do independently fundraise and work for progressive candidates who garner the endorsement of MoveOn members in an open vote.
Because the candidates we support are progressive, they tend to be Democrats or members of independent progressive parties like the Working Families Party, but if MoveOn members decided to endorse a progressive independent or Republican, that's who MoveOn would support.
Does MoveOn openly criticize or oppose Democrats?
Yes, just ask the Democrats :-). The benefit of being an independent organization is that we can support elected officials when they do the right thing and call them out when they do the wrong thing.
MoveOn members regularly target elected Democrats at events and with citizen lobbying campaigns to oppose the policies they're pushing, have run ads against Democrats many times, and have primaried prominent Democrats. For example, MoveOn members contributed millions of dollars to Bill Halter's attempt to unseat conservative Democrat Blanche Lincoln in 2010 in Arkansas.
MoveOn members worked hard to elect President Obama and have supported him when we've agreed with him, and vehemently opposed him when we haven't. For example, here's a statement opposing Obama's decision to block EPA ozone regulations in September. And during the recent "debt ceiling" deal, MoveOn members flooded Obama's campaign headquarters with angry phone calls and rallied at Democrats' offices to oppose the deal because it cut critical programs that middle class families rely on without making millionaires pay their fair share.
Is MoveOn speaking to the media on behalf of Occupy Wall Street?
No. We've talked to reporters about our work in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, but in every case have been extremely clear that we don't speak for Occupy Wall Street, and have helped connect reporters directly with designated representatives of Occupy Wall Street.we have.
Especially at the local level, some reporters seem intent on confusing MoveOn and Occupy Wall Street, but any time we've seen confusion, we've done our best to set them straight.
Is MoveOn just an email list with no boots on the ground?
No. In fact, MoveOn has been pioneer at "online to offline" organizing—using email and social media to move people into action in the real world. Over the last 10 years, MoveOn volunteers have organized tens of thousands of events on the ground in every congressional district in the nation. The MoveOn Council network, founded in 2005 to facilitate deep, community-based organizing, has more than 150 volunteer-led Councils, spanning all 50 states.
We regularly hold "offline" actions, with hundreds or thousands of events happening at once in living rooms, public libraries, and public venues across the nation.
How does MoveOn pick which issues to work on?
MoveOn's agenda is set by its 5 million members. That happens via open agenda-setting processes that all members are invited to take part in, via surveys that go out to members every day, via membership votes on candidate endorsements and major issues like whether to support the health care bill or debt ceiling deal, via feedback that members send every day about proposed actions, and through the simple mechanism of members' individual decisions about whether to participate in a particular action.
MoveOn is its members. We work on issues where there's both real passion and broad agreement among MoveOn members. If we did otherwise, members would stop participating and we wouldn't be able to accomplish anything.
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