ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Doomed to Failure

Rolling Stone had this article about Morons.Org MoveOn.Org posted on 2/24... sorry that I didn't see it earlier as I could've used the laughs. It dissects the Moron-ers MoveOn-ers and it has some very insightful information.

Personally, the internet is useful... however, a million folks online across the country don't mean sqwat when it comes to winning an state in the electoral process. That takes hard, personable hand-to-hand persuasion and communication.

Here are some all of the funnier more interesting parts, but it's worth reading the entire article (not too lengthy as this is Rolling Stone) don't bother reading the original as I've apparently fisked the entire thing here... *sigh*:

But many party insiders worry that an Internet insurgency working hand in hand with a former Vermont governor will only succeed in pushing the party so far to the left that it can't compete in the red states. "It's electoral suicide," says Dan Gerstein, a former strategist for Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign. MoveOn committed a series of costly blunders last fall: It failed to remove two entries that compared Bush to Hitler from its online ad contest, and its expensive television spots barely registered in the campaign. One conservative commentator, alluding to MoveOn's breathless promotion of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, branded the group the "MooreOn" wing of the party. All of which leaves political veterans wondering: As MoveOn becomes a vital part of the Democratic establishment, will its take-no-prisoners attitude marginalize the party and strengthen the Republican stranglehold on power?

"My view of MoveOn is that they're like muscular adolescents," says Rosenberg. "Their body has grown too quickly -- they're going to make mistakes."
Ummm, ditt-O! And YES, it will strengthen the republican stranglehold on power, thank you very much.
That's the part that worries moderate Democrats. For now, party insiders are playing nice with MoveOn, which could contribute millions to their campaigns. They recognize, after all, that an active left is as crucial if the Democrats are to regain power as the Christian right has been to the GOP. When asked about MoveOn, two prominent Democratic strategists feed me the exact same talking point: "We've got to learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time" -- meaning, as one of them explains, "If you're going to be successful, as Bush has proven, you have to energize your base, and you've got to appeal to swing voters."

But some insiders worry that putting left-wing idealists in charge of speaking to the center seems about as likely to work as chewing gum with your feet. "There's a built-in tension between the views of people who are part of MoveOn and contribute to it, and the people they're trying to reach," says Ed Kilgore of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
And, as the message of the Activist Left is AMPLIFIED, the center turns away. The Left has NEVER openly expressed their policies or messages. It's always been masked as jibberish during election years, which was the main reason Kerry failed in 2004 - he had to hide his dovish history, his inconsistent and wavering positions on Iraq and the Middle East, etc, etc, etc. So, let's make sure that MoveOn (and to a certain extent DailyKos) continue to be highlighted, as this is sure to signal to the center of American politics that the only safe refuge is on the right side of the line.
But there's little evidence that the huge investment yielded a political profit. If speaking to the center was MoveOn's goal, "they failed miserably," says Greg Strimple, a media consultant who advised the Senate campaigns of three GOP moderates. "None of their ads had an impact on the center electorate that needed to be swung." If the group's leadership saw anything broken with its advertising during the campaign, though, it shows no signs of fixing it. In a rush to get its new Social Security ad on the air, MoveOn didn't even test it.

The ad, which depicts senior citizens performing manual labor, was not only paid for by MoveOn members but was also created by them. This kind of closed feedback loop is indicative of a larger problem: the group's almost hermetic left-wing insularity. "We don't get around much," acknowledges Boyd. "We tend to all stay in front of our keyboards and do the work."

For MoveOn, "the work" consists of looking for spikes in e-mail traffic and monitoring online forums to divine the issues that drive its members. Boyd and Blades have bitten hard on the "wisdom of crowds" concept. They believe that strategies posted and rated by fellow activists provide the basis for picking campaigns that members will pay to support. "We've discovered a way to engage people so that they want to open their wallets," says Boyd. "If we can come up with a great campaign, we know it will get funded."
And this is the OTHER problem... they're holed up in their bastions in the Blue States, insulated from anything approaching a conservative thought and swim in the fishbowl with like minded folks on the internet. One benefit of the Liberal bias in the MSM for conservatives is that we're exposes to their worldview day in and day out since childhood and have developed critical thinking abilities and can counter most of their agruments. But, back to the work and how MoveOn determines what's "Hot"
Boyd is a whip-smart man with a deep passion for populist democracy. But speaking to him about MoveOn's constituency is like speaking to someone who spends all day in an Internet chat room and assumes the rest of the world is as psyched as he and his online compatriots are about, say, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He seems to conflate MoveOn with the rest of America. "We see ourselves as a broad American public," he says. "We assume that things that resonate with our base resonate with America."

In fact, there appears to be an almost willful ignorance about who actually composes MoveOn. "We're pretty light on the demographics," Boyd says without apology. "It's funny, when we talk to people in Washington, that's the first question we're asked." He adds with note of self-satisfaction: "We've been largely nonresponsive."
Okay, this just re-emphasizes the point that they're in the fishbowl and need to get into the ocean. If you're trying to determine what's important from email traffic, posts flying across Lefty discussion boards, etc, chances are that you're going to develop campaigns around something that 80% of Americans do not care about. Question: Is MoveOn putting together a campaign based on Jeff JD GannonGuckert right now? (queue gay porn evil music) Will it focus on the gay prostitution? Or the definition of "what is a journalist?" Or perhaps whether Gannon is a Rove plant that fed the faked documents to CBS? Inquiring Lefties without Minds want to know!!! BECAUSE OF THE HYPOCRISY!!! However no one who pays a mortgage or buys groceries for their family gives a crap.

We're "almost home," folks...
"The GOP is painting us as socialist radicals," Blades tells me with seeming disbelief over Thai chicken salad at the Berkeley Art Museum. "And if you'd been reading any of their publications, you'd think that we were a bunch of wildass lunatics." Does MoveOn have a branding problem? "I think it might," she says.
Marketing 101 - If you ever find yourself saying, "I think [we] might [have a branding problem]," this is the FIRST SIGN that you do. In terms of brand... let's see. They're name is MoveOn.org, originally started to "move on" (clever) from President Clinton's impeachment hearings. However, they've failed to "move on" since then and are still pissed about the 2000 election fracas. MoveOn, indeed. Let's MoveOn to a new century and leave the lefty socialism you promise where it belongs - on the ash-heap of history. When I see a MoveOn ad on TV, I certainly want to MoveOn (to the next channel), so I s'pose it's appropriate.

Now, Rolling Stone finally addresses the real problem with MoveOn... not bad marketing, not insulation from the outside world, but their actual @#$ing politics
So who is MoveOn? Consider this: Howard Dean finished first in the MoveOn primary. Number Two wasn't John Kerry or John Edwards -- it was Dennis Kucinich. Listing the issues that resonate most with their membership, Boyd and Blades cite the environment, the Iraq War, campaign-finance reform, media reform, voting reform and corporate reform. Somewhere after freedom, opportunity and responsibility comes "the overlay of security concerns that everybody shares." Terrorism as a specific concern is notably absent. As are jobs. As is health care. As is education.
I'd have to say that if you were to poll these issues, you'd find an negative correlation between issues that mattered to the American peopel and those that matter to MoveOn.org. The only issue in their top 6 that would be in the Top 5 for the American people would be the Iraq War, and I can't say that those selecting that would be all against it. The only other item in their TOP 6 that would even register would be the environment, but it polls so low as to almost not exist (primarily because of the great strides we've made over the past 20 years).

Now, for the gentle let down after exposing the core problem. they're frank, but almost disappointed. You can tell that Rolling Stone wants so desperately to help... Rolling Stone is gentle, it's hand caressing MoveOn's soft... sorry
There's nothing inherently good or bad in any of this. It's just that MoveOn's values aren't middle-American values. They're the values of an educated, steadily employed middle and upper-middle class with [too much] time to dedicate to politics -- and disposable income to leverage when they're agitated [which is like every @#$ing day!]. That's fine, as long as the group sticks to mobilizing fellow travelers on the left. But the risks are greater when it presumes to speak for the entire party. "The decibel level that MoveOn can bring is very high," says Bill Carrick, a longtime Democratic strategist.

Like so many other Internet start-ups, MoveOn has raised -- and burned through -- tens of millions of dollars, innovating without producing many concrete results. Any reasonable analysis shows its stock may be dangerously overvalued. Those banking on MoveOn had better hope it is more Google than Pets.com. Because should the group flame out, the Democrats could be in for a fall of Nasdaq proportions.
What I really like is the fact that their darling is now the DNC Chair, and (assuming HRC doesn't get his twigs & berries in a deathgrip) MoveOn.Org will feel empowered as the mouthpiece for the party. And Dean (insulated in his cozy, Vermont cottage... wearing a warm sweater by the fireplace, reaches over and pats MoveOn on the head. He thinks to himself: "Ahhh, I told my friends that it wasn't our message that was wrong - but our ability to communicate it to the American people. Well, now we've going to shout our message out loud and clear, eh? Just wait... Just you wait... They'll EAT IT UP in Peoria and Paducah.

I VOTE PETS.COM

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler