MoveOn.org is circulating a new survey asking its 3.3 million members to plan the group’s "next steps," offering a dozen choices ranging from issues on the national agenda, like ending the Iraq War and climate change, to less mainstream items such as impeachment. But the survey does not even mention Bush’s worst domestic transgression: the suspension of habeas corpus and other fundamental rights in last year’s Military Commissions Act (MCA).
The omission is particularly glaring because habeas corpus and constitutional rights are one of the top priorities of the netroots activists who comprise the membership of MoveOn.org. In a Democrats.com survey of over 400 netroots activists after the November election, restoring habeas corpus ranked first for legislative priorities – above even Iraq withdrawal. MoveOn members have said "restoring the Constitution" should be one of the top priorities for the Democratic Congress, according to MoveOn spokesperson Jennifer Lindenauer, and several leading bloggers recently pressed Congressional Democrats to jam habeas restoration into a defense spending bill. Restoring habeas "is something that we elected them to get done," blogged MyDD’s Matt Stoller. [Update: MoveOn sent out an action alert to members about the issue as well.]
But House Democrats failed to take action. Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton meekly argued Democrats could restore habeas in a "separate bill," a futile strategy since Bush can easily veto stand-alone human rights legislation.
While it may seem like MoveOn is planning its "next steps" with habeas off the radar, Executive Director Eli Pariser says the group simply does not survey all of its campaigns. "Surveying is just a way for us to get a sense of the relative priorities — absent strategic opportunities that we’re sure our members will want to seize," he told me via email. The group is looking to find out where it can "play a constructive role," but they haven not "seen that moment yet," he added.