MoveOn Resumes Antiwar Stance
By Tom Hayden
The Nation.com - June 22, 2009
MoveOn.org resumed its historical antiwar stance this
week, symbolically breaking with the Obama
administration for the first time.
After being criticized for abandoning the antiwar
stance that won it millions of activist supporters, the
organization sent targeted mailings supporting the
demand for an Obama administration exit strategy report
contained in HR 2404, by Rep. Jim McGovern of
The measure, which requires the Pentagon to outline an
exit strategy from
eighty-four co-sponsors last week, and was blocked by
the House Democratic leadership from consideration as
part of the supplemental military appropriation of $100
million. Currently it is pending in the House, still
opposed by the Obama administration.
The bill represents an uncertain trumpet for Democrats
who were willing to impose exit deadlines from
the outgoing Bush administration. Both President Obama
and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have spoken in favor
means their opposition to the McGovern legislation
reflects a deep-running struggle between the executive
and legislative branches over war-making powers. The
White House was extremely active in lobbying Democrats
to vote for the war supplemental without conditions.
Only thirty-two Democrats were willing to stand up
against the administration.
The refusal of MoveOn to engage in the supplemental
fight, or oppose the escalation in
reduction of grassroots antiwar pressure on wavering
Congressional members. Until last week, Congressional
antiwar leaders were questioning where MoveOn, with its
5 million members, stood on the vote.
Despite its modest nature, MoveOn's entry into the
debate could be an important factor in legitimizing
antiwar criticism of the Obama policies among
Democrats. Antiwar sentiment at the grassroots is
smothered by the unwillingness of several organizations
to openly oppose the war escalation, despite their
roots in the antiwar movement against
The silent organizations thus far include Democracy for
America and its founder, Howard Dean, Ben Cohen's True
Majority, and the Obama campaign's offshoot, Organizing
$80 billion war supplemental with an amendment
supporting women's programs in
Feminist Majority argued against another antiwar
organization, Win Without War, taking an oppositional
stand on the supplemental. National Peace Action, while
opposing the supplemental, also supported the Feminist
Majority's amendment to the supplemental, which failed
anyway in the end.
[Senator Tom Hayden, the Nation Institute's Carey
McWilliams Fellow, has played an active role in
American politics and history for over three decades,
beginning with the student, civil rights and antiwar
movements of the 1960s.
Hayden was elected to the
in 1982, where he served for ten years in the Assembly
before being elected to the State Senate in 1992, where
he served eight years.
Hayden is the author of eleven books, including his
the environment, Lost Gospel of the Earth; a collection
of essays on the aftermath of the Irish potato famine,
Irish Hunger (Roberts Rhinehart) and a book on his
Irish background, Irish on the Inside: In Search of the
Soul of Irish
biography of C. Wright Mills (Paradigm Publishers);
and, most recently, Ending the War in
collection of his work, Writings for a Democratic
Society: The Tom Hayden Reader was published this year.].