Eighty-three percent of MoveOn members say the organization should join the fight to pass the health reform bill being advanced by President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress, despite the fact that the measure falls short of the sort of reform for which the powerful progressive group had campaigned.
That’s an important message for Obama and the Democrats, who will need strong support from progressive activists during the final push to pass reform legislation–and during the 2010 election cycle when much of the political debate will continue to focus on questions of how best to address issues of health-care access and cost.
The MoveOn result means that one of the savviest and most effective progressive organizations in the country will be a part of that process.
What should be encouraging for Obama and congressional Democrats is that this is not a case of insiders in Washington–like the folks at the Democratic National Committee or groupings that developed out of the Obama campaign–making a call to fall in line with the president. MoveOn’s members, while surely sympathetic toward Obama and the Democrats, have always wanted a bolder reform than what the president is promoting.
But, now, in a vote that was democratic and national in character, MoveOn activists have indicated that they are prepared to back a compromise bill–although the 17 percent "no" vote was certainly worthy of note. (As author and activist John Stauber, the former director of the Center for Media and Democracy, noted: "I’m impressed that even among MoveOn’s voters almost one in five give Obama Care the thumbs down.")
By most measures, however, the better than 4-1 MoveOn vote suggests that there remains a significant measure of good will for the president among progressives.
MoveOn announced the vote earlier this week, when the online activist community, which played such a critical role in building opposition to the Bush administration and in paving the way for its replacement by the Obama administration, asked members to weigh in on whether they now support President Obama’s final push for health-care reform.
The MoveOn "team" admitted in an email to the group’s roughly 5 million members that Obama’s proposal is "definitely not the bill most of us hoped for at the start of this fight." But, they added, "it does do some important things."
That was a reasonable assessment, as was the review of comments from MoveOn members who support and oppose the reform legislation as it currently stands.
A sampling from the "pro" side: