Oh, that it has come to this! I'm infuriated at a dot org. Wish to be unsubscribed from their mailing list.
At MoveOn.org's thoughtful suggestion, I have signed countless petitions, called the offices of my state and federal representatives and manned the phones at a "house party" to help get John Kerry elected. In my absurdly busy life, I actually looked forward to receiving their daily emails because I felt I could rely on this group to keep me abreast of the days' vital issues. Then, with one click-of-the-mouse I could add my vote to a quarter of a million others and be sure that my voice would be heard. In the last couple of years, MoveOn.org had become a force to be reckoned with.
Then, without warning, they transmogrified into an authoritarian task-master, cracking the whip over my head with their instructions about whom I should vote for in the Democratic primaries. Excuse me, Eli Pariser, just who do you think you are?
A few weeks ago MoveOn announced their intention to endorse a presidential candidate. I was asked to choose my favorite. Something about this request made me uncomfortable. I hadn't yet made up my mind between John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In fact, I'd recently received an insightful, fact-filled letter from Michael Moore pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, their voting records on everything from health care to the war in Iraq, how much money had been contributed to their campaign coffers, and by whom.
Michael had something nice to say about each candidate, but in the end he respectfully submitted his personal preference for the record - Edwards. It helped me immensely to have the facts in front of me so I could narrow things down and make an informed choice.
As for MoveOn's ill-advised poll, I ignored it.
Shortly thereafter I received another email from them announcing that by an overwhelming majority - 70%-30% -- their membership had voted for Obama. They were throwing their hat in the ring and endorsing him.
Much to my dismay I soon began receiving daily emails not only directing me to vote for Barack, but ones saying that I should tell all my friends to vote for him. By then Edwards had dropped out of the race and I was frankly leaning towards Hillary. No, she hadn't always voted the way I wished she had had, but she was one smart woman, had championed universal health care way-back-when, and had proven she was strong and unflinching under fire.
I was increasingly turned off by the blatant "hands-off" bias of the press towards Obama, the slavering, almost cult-like adoration of a candidate who was unquestioningly charismatic, an inspiring speaker, who had been on the right side of the vote to go to war with Iraq, but was still a bit green behind the ears.
More and more emails from MoveOn arrived. Now they wanted me to watch a totally hip YouTube video of celebrities rapping to one of Barack's speeches. But I still hadn't made up my mind, and their nagging was starting to piss me off.
When I watched CNN's Democratic debate between Hillary and Barack, I found that my favorite moment in that delightfully civil "conversation" was Wolf Blitzer's last question (the only one from that consistently annoying newsman that didn't make me feel like slapping him). He told both Clinton and Obama that lots of people in the audience were watching the pair of them sitting together on the stage and realizing that here was the Democratic "Dream Team." Would they, if they received the nomination, consider taking the other for their running mate?
Their answers were appropriately vague -- no one at that point in such a heated contest was going to entertain the suggestion that they might lose. But each in his or her own way left the possibility open, perhaps Hillary a tad more clearly and graciously than Barack. She pointed out that they had been friends before the race began and would be friends after it was over, no matter which way the voting went.
Then they stood up and embraced for a good long moment, smiling and speaking in each other's ears as I imagined two friends would do. It was a golden moment for me, an American citizen who had been living in a state of constant depression and anxiety since George Bush and Dick Cheney stole the 2000 election and turned this country into a shameful shambles. It was a moment that proclaimed we had two fabulous candidates, either of whom would make a spectacular president. And if, when the Democratic convention chose one or the other of them, and the winner took the "loser" for a running mate, we would have the best of both worlds. A "Dream Team" that could hands-down drive the Republicans out of office for the foreseeable future.
I went to bed happy that night. Had sweet dreams and woke up feeling, for the first time in many years, hopeful that our political process was not a sinkhole of despair.
Then I opened my mailbox and found another friggin' email from MoveOn.org. "Go the extra mile and help get 'our candidate' elected!" it ordered me. Hello? What about the 30% of your members who had not voted to endorse Obama? What were we, chopped liver?
Right before Super Tuesday I got a call from my Aunt Sylvia. At eighty she was a staunch Democrat and the first (and for many years only) politically active member of our family. Long before her children, nieces and nephews could vote, she was out there, strong-of-opinion and fighting the good fight.
But this day she was upset and confused. MoveOn -- an organization she had come to trust -- was sending her emails, telling her how to vote in the primaries.
That was it. From then on, every time I got another "Vote for Obama" email from MoveOn I sent back a reply telling them to cease and desist from treating me and the other 30% of their dissenting membership with disrespect. That perhaps they had gotten too big for their .org britches. That they should forget intra-party partisanship and throw their substantial weight into making sure Hillary and Barack won the general election in November. And that maybe they should respond to my emails.
Get a grip on yourself, guys. Deflate your self-important heads. But until then, MoveOn, you can just unsubscribe me.