really, help is on the way

It’s true. It might take a while, and certainly with the loss this week, it’s easy to forget that some incredible things happened during this election. Incredible things that, if we can keep momentum around, mean that we can still turn this country around.

I was actually very hearted by Eli Pariser’s mail to the MoveOn faithful today. We lost this battle, but we’ve got a lot of new recruits, and they’re young, they’re going to be voting for years to come, and it’s up to all of us to keep them feeling a part of the process.

Keep reading for Eli’s message. And take heart. Please.

Dear MoveOn member,

As the Wall Street Journal points out, Bush’s victory was “the
narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.”
Narrow defeat still hurts. But today, the staff here at MoveOn
can’t help but be hopeful, even elated, by the clear impact we’ve all
had together.

In the shadow of our loss, it’s easy to forget what a difference our work
made. Together, we changed the lives of thousands of people, one
conversation at a time. We brought people to the polls who had never
voted. We challenged our neighbors to rethink the information they had
been given by Fox News and the right wing echo chamber. We turned
co-workers into activists. And in the end, we turned out enough voters
to provide the margin of victory in several states.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Just look at the numbers. Our
goal in this program was to turn out 440,000 extra voters for Kerry. We
figured only about one third to one half of them would actually check in
with us after they voted. This morning, we figured out that the number
of people who HAD CHECKED IN ALONE was over 472,000 — an outstanding
success. And the actual total number of our targeted voters who showed
up is much higher.

In New Hampshire, where Kerry won by 9,171 votes, 9,820 people on our
target lists got to the polls. In Wisconsin, where Kerry won by only
11,813, we turned out over 37,000. The 119,000 people we got out in
Pennsylvania almost exceeded the margin of victory there, too. The
effort that all of you put in clearly had a decisive impact in winning
these states.

And that impact wasn’t just at the Presidential level. In Colorado, the
voters that we brought out helped elect a new Democratic Senator, win
back control of the legislature for the first time since 1960, and pass
progressive ballot measures. In Minnesota, as one TV channel pointed
out, “Kerry supporters turned out, and they sparked a [Democratic] rout
in Minnesota House races, nearly toppling the Republican majority.” In
fact, Kerry won Minnesota by a larger percentage of the vote than Gore
did in 2000.

All of the media hullabaloo about the “missing youth vote” is false,
too, by the way. More people between 18 and 30 turned out this year than
ever before, even though the total percentage of young people in the
population is smaller than it was in previous races. And the youth age
bracket voted emphatically for Kerry — a good sign that future
generations are more progressive, that history continues to move in our

But the numbers only tell part of the story. You helped build a new
progressive movement, a movement that is just beginning. And because of
the work you’ve done, because of the relationships you’ve formed and the
people you’ve brought in, we are stronger now than we were when we
started this campaign. Because of groundswell that you have created, we
are better able to stop Bush in Term 2 than we were in Term 1.

Victor, one of the precinct leaders, wrote:

“This program helped me overcome a sense of passive hopelessness about
our country leading me to become empowered to work for a positive
change. One of the best outcomes of this experience was meeting and
becoming friends with a host of like-minded neighbors. This election was
just a first start for us. Realizing how much power we have to effect
the political process when we work together as part of a well organized
team, has changed us and prepared us for future battles.

“I am going to be keeping a list of my team members (and encourage other
precinct leaders to do likewise), and will distribute this list to all
team members. When it is time for our next political action, we will hit
the ground running.”

And there’s a historical precedent for believing this is a beginning,
not an end. In 1972, Richard Nixon ran against George McGovern, a
progressive populist with a great message about stopping the Vietnam
War. McGovern lost in a landslide, winning literally only one state even
though the Watergate scandal was swirling around Nixon. But a year and a
half later, Nixon resigned; two years later, reformist Democrats won
back control of both legislative chambers.

History is on our side. We look forward to working for you and with you
in the months and years to come. You’re real heroes to all of us on the
MoveOn staff. Thank you so, so much, for everything you’ve done.

–Eli, Adam, and the whole MoveOn PAC Team
Thursday, November 4th, 2004

P.S. We’ll definitely want to learn as much as we can from you about how
to make this process better the next time through. We’ll be sending you
a survey next week; we really want your input.