The Right's MoveOn.org

THE RIGHT'S MOVEON.ORG....For years, one of the principal concerns on the left was creating a political and intellectual infrastructure that the right developed over decades. Conservatives had the think tanks, the massive membership organizations, the media outlets, the conferences, the deep-pocketed benefactors, etc. The left scrambled to catch up in the late '90s, but the right has a big head start.

But as it turns out, the envious looks cut both ways. The right wants its own MoveOn.org.

Veteran Republicans say they have quietly raised millions of dollars for a pair of nonprofit organizations that will launch this fall with the ambitious aim of providing a conservative counterweight to the liberal MoveOn.org, Politico.com has learned.The issues and education group, which has a plan to enlist hundreds of thousands of small donors, aims to be active in the 2008 presidential election, according to Republicans involved in the effort. Organizers, who include veterans of the last three Republican White Houses, would not give specifics on how much money the group has raised so far or who its donor base is.




Bradley Blakeman, a former aide in Bush's White House said, "We're in the formative stages of creating a new group that will give voice and hope to conservatives everywhere who believe in peace through strength and limited government. We expect to have more to announce sometime down the road."

We'll see what Blakeman and his team can pull together, but I'm skeptical it'll amount to much, at least for a long while. For one thing, this still-unnamed group will have plenty of competition. The Vanguard says it's "intended to be a right-wing version of the leftist MoveOn.Org." Tom DeLay says he's in the process of "building a conservative grass-roots equivalent of MoveOn.org." In the last couple of cycles, a right-wing 527 group called Progress for America Voter Fund has already positioned itself as a far-right version of MoveOn.org. I think Blakeman's group will have to get in line.

For that matter, I think the right's been confused about MoveOn's appeal for a while. The group doesn't follow a top-down model; it's the other way around. Loyal Bushies can raise some money and form yet another conservative activist group, but that's hardly a recipe for success.

MoveOn drew support because it had a cause (Clinton impeachment). It showed staying power when new causes (Iraq war) emerged. This wasn't an instance in which a bunch of liberals got together and said, "Wouldn't it be great to form some kind of organization to advance a progressive agenda?" It was a far more natural evolution, a fact that seems to elude those who want to emulate it.

But that won't stop them from trying. We'll see what happens.

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