Do you remember the days when the populist website MoveOn.org attracted the attention (and conservative derision) of millions of people through its splashy advertisements attracting eyeballs and starting conversations around America? Those days are gone.
MoveOn’s latest e-mail appeal:
Dear MoveOn member,
Let me get straight to the point: Right now there are just 9 days left until the election, and we haven’t raised all the funds we need for our big election plan.
That means that instead of focusing 100% on how we can stop the Republicans from taking over Congress, we’re still spending time figuring out how to bring in additional resources.
So, we’ll make you a deal: If you chip in $5 today, we’ll stop asking you for money for the rest of the election and focus on stopping the takeover. Deal?
This is the desperate plea of an organization that has his the wall.
MoveOn represents the old model of fundraising: attract a large number of small donations from attentive, energized citizens and mass them together for a large collective effect. In the 2010 congressional election season, MoveOn has used such donations to spend $921,783 in independent expenditures to date: $363,617 spent on advertisements to promote Democratic Party candidates and $558,166 spent on advertisements to oppose Republican Party candidates. In elections past, this would have represented a significant sum. But since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowed corporations not only to spend unlimited amounts on congressional campaigns but also to hide the identity of donors, MoveOn has been quickly surpassed in its spending by pro-corporation, pro-Republican groups:
The Club for Growth has spent $6,780,637 on the 2010 congressional elections so far.
The Karl Rove group Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies has unloaded $10,401,247 worth of political ads. Karl Rove’s other group, American Crossroads, has spent $17,112,338 so far to swing the election.
The 60 Plus Association, which portrays itself as a seniors’ issue group but which actually lobbies for internet gambling interests, has spent $6,039,909 for advertising.
Why is MoveOn.org not salient to the American people any more? It’s not so much that MoveOn.org has failed to raise money like it used to. It’s just that MoveOn’s continuing populist efforts have been eclipsed by the massive new corporate spending. How can a speck stand out in the glare of a raging supernova?