I was thrilled to get linked to the blog on 2004 efforts. Catharsis is nice. Learning from mistakes is even better. As Greg may feel, I'm not yet confident that past mistakes will lead to adequate changes.
2004 was my first real partisan political campaign but I have over 25 years of professional grassroots organizing experience behind me. (obviously I'm one of the older organizers that got hired).
Overall, my experience with GRI was negative, based on nearly all of Greg's reasons. But, my experience with MoveOn was mostly positive given:
A chance to be part of something with such great possibility.
I was in NH where we helped turn a Red state (2000) into a Blue state (2004).
The quality of the other young field organizers I worked with. Extraordinary people!
A clear, measurable and workable strategy. (even if it had serious flaws in hindsight)
The latest in organizing technology (sometimes too late)
The access to an incredible deep, committed and talented MoveOn membership.
I agree with the response of `Democratic Courage.' "MoveOn.org has probably done more than any other organization to build a lasting grassroots-based progressive movement." I've worked with over a dozen progressive non-profits and few of them had any clue about the enormous value of relational data bases, web organizing and grassroots empowerment.
My negative experiences with MoveOn had most to do with a few people in `management' positions which clearly didn't listen to volunteer or organizer concerns, or see any value in the grassroots organizing experience of others. I got far more accomplished by ignoring some of my managers directions/orders/suggestions that clearly weren't working in the field. Eventually sensible instructions came from the top down but not in time to help some of the younger professionals who may have worried more about their future resume than actively resisting orders that weren't helping them meet the objectives.
My greatest disappointment however, comes from the Democratic party regarding its failure to effectively frame election issues (within the context of national security). I've also been writing a book (started long before 9-11 and even the Hart Ruddman Commission) regarding the serious threats to our nation's security and what it will take to make Americans both safe and free. (Many progressives still don't get it).
I remember trying to get this idea through to MoveOn's upper management `issues people' but was blocked by some youngster staffer who thought is was more important for me to follow MoveOn's anemic issues script than suggest important changes. He threatened to removing me from the final list of 500 organizers. I agreed to talk the party line but told him that if we lose this election because of a failure to move voters on important issues I was going to haunt him in his dreams. (I hope he's having nightmares .)
I encourage people to learn about the GOPs `Voters Vault" (a sophisticated data base) that helps them recruit, manage and organize their recruiters, voters and volunteers. Dems/liberals/progressives still have much yet to learn about picking and framing issues. I'm not sure we will see these essential changes in 2006.
I am sure they won't ask for my opinion.
Chuck (former chair of the United Nations Association Council of Organizations representing over 100 progressive US based non-profit organizations and professional associations with over 25 million US members).