I have signed petitions online from moveon.com (moveon.org) from time time. Not all of them. I try to be discriminating. I know it had a small beginning: a husband and wife business team that were dismayed at the time wasted trying to impeach Clinton for unimpeachable dailliances. They set up a website with a petition asking Congress to censure Bill Clinton--and then start acting like serious representatives of the people.
From there it has grown to over three million members. As usual the right extremists paint moveon.com as a nefarious, dangerous, traitorous, radical, un-American, left-wing conspiracy which should be "thrown out of the country".
It was a mistake for moveon.com to run the "General Betray Us" newspaper ad. It may have been true that General Petraeus acted as a "toady" for a traitorous American administration, but it is unwise (or at least very dangerous) to attack or even criticize an American officer, --- especially a general --- in a country that has raging hormones over any perceived slight to the military and their operations. The GOPhers -- experts at seizing every opportunity to turn the public away from their their egrigious malfeasances and focus on a phony target -- rushed to use this ad to defame moveon.com and every other progressive group they could find.
In reality moveon.com was founded to help progressive (liberal, sane, left wing) patriots who are either too busy or too timid to engage in mass demonstrations with the means to register their displeasure with the slide into hell our country is in.
The general purpose of moveon.com is to find what the concerns of this "silent majority" are and to provide them choices of approaches that might deal with the disasters that are exploding all around us.
They are not really radical, and, unfortunately, have developed into a group that pretty much is lined up with the mainstream Democratic Party. They were described by John Stauber, founder of the Center for Media and Democracy as "...primarily a money-raising and marketing arm of the Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party".
Question: What good has moveon.com actually done? Have their formed a coalition with other like minded groups and an effective strategy that will make congressmen, senators, the President worry about their activity and heed their admonitions and advice? Not really. Have their established "on the ground" local organizing groups so that their presence is more than just in cyber space? Well, they are moving in that direction with their MoveOn Councils --- 250 established throughout America and present in every state. These councils train people in organizing, being effective, running phone banks, having war vigils and hosting house parties.
However --- "....in Democratic Congressional offices, it's viewed as more of an annoyance than a force." (from The Nation, August 11th, 2008) One former staffer said: "I've never been in a room where someone say, 'Let all check with MoveOn.'"
One of the most vehement critics of moveon is, a person I admire a great deal -- Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink. Medea speaks truth to power and acts. Concerning their ineffectiveness in leading the anti-war movement, she said: "They were more concerned with being on the same page with the Democratic leadership than with the rest of the anti-war leadership."
As Benjamin plainly says: "MoveOn went all out to get a Democratic Congress elected. We now have more troops in Iraq, more funding than even the Bush administration asked for, and a guarantee that the war will continue into the next administration."
Supporting the Democratic leadership has not and probably will not take this country where the people need it to go. Early in the primary season MoveOn's members 70% endorsed Obama. Now he seems to watering down his positions --- until we may end up with a very diluted medicine for America. Obama talked a great deal about uniting the country, all factions. Compromise is a tool for that, but I am worried about how this card game will end up with the right wing players having lots of dirty tricks up their sleeves, and the aggressiveness to bluff their way in winning the hand.
Summing things up: From a small beginning in ten years time, moveon.com now has a membership of three million and is responsible for promoting and opposing political actions from a progressive point of view. However, it is not having the impact, it originally had because some (many?) of our elected representatives are not giving it much heed. They do not feel threatened by it. They are more interested in doing the will of those whose money helped elect them and maintains them in office. moveon.com could be more useful if it tried to unite the various progressive groups, especially the online ones, into some kind of confederation and if it would pursue successfully its present attempts to have real people in real places organize, protest, and pressure our leaders to think of what's best for the nation, the planet and ordinary Americans.