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MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country
Maui, HI: Inner Ocean Publishing, 2004
145 pp., $10.95, paperback
ISBN: 1-930722-29-X

Many of our readers should have heard about MoveOn.org - either pro or con in the media. MoveOn was created in 1998 in response to the "paralysis" of the government during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, founders of MoveOn, sent out a one sentence petition to fewer than 100 family and friends, with instructions to send it on to other family and friends.

"Congress must immediately censure President Clinton and move on to pressing issues facing the nation."

They set up a simple website at www.MoveOn.org, and in what is now known as viral marketing, Blades and Boyd learned how many people agreed - 100,000 people signed the petition in a week. From such beginnings a movement is formed.

MoveOn has progressed beyond the initial online petition, to email alerts, surveys, and their Action Forums, discovering what their members cared about. As part of this, they asked their members (1.8 million strong and growing) what they have done to make a difference. Thousands of stories poured in, and from this MoveOn's 50 Ways to Love Your Country was born. Divided up into sections, from "The Power of Connecting," uniting people in a cause; "Every Vote Counts," voting and voter registration drives; "The Many Faces of the Media," media's influence on the political system and public opinion; "Political Action is Personal," getting actively involved in politics; and "Personal Action is Political," creative ways to contribute to the political dialogue.

Many of the stories by MoveOn members are quite doable, such as signing an online petition, emailing a short note to the President (or other politicians), making a donation (no matter how small) to a campaign, and even attending a rally. Some require a little more effort, such as working on voter registration drives, speaking to your local official, writing an OpEd piece, volunteering for a campaign. And still others require much more effort, like running for election. One story by Michael Fjetland, 54, from Sugar Land, Texas, is one example few would ever consider, but could make the most difference. Fjetland lives in Congressman Tom DeLay's district, and was increasingly frustrated with DeLay's seeming lack of concern about the district, nor his efforts in dealing with terrorism worldwide. As nothing seemed to get DeLay's attention, Fjetland filed for the GOP primary in January 2000 - the first person in years to oppose DeLay in the primary. Fjetland figured that he didn't need much money, and since there wasn't a Democrat running against DeLay, he would be able to get some crossover votes (permitted in Texas). DeLay started appearing at district events again, after avoiding some of these events for years. DeLay even showed up to debate. While, ultimately, Fjetland lost the election, he garnered 25% of the vote by spending hardly anything on his two-month campaign, and he forced DeLay to get involved in his district more, in addition to getting him involved in terrorism and other international issues.

However, the one example that caught my attention the most was the power of your vote. Murray Hirsh, 79, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, was in charge of day-to-day operations at the Clinton/Gore reelection campaign in 1996, when he received a phone call from a hospice nurse. She was at the home of a man who only had days to live, but had just received his absentee ballot and wanted to ask some questions about the referendums on the ballot. The fact that, while he would not be alive to see who won the Presidency or what ballot initiatives would pass, he wanted to make sure he voted in a beneficial way, was truly inspiring.

We are at a crossroads in this country, where people feel their vote doesn't matter, their representatives don't represent them, and voter apathy is at an all time high. MoveOn has created a "how to" book on how to change all of this. It is definitely recommended reading for those who truly "love our country."

— Annette Aguayo

Order from:
MoveOn recommends you contact your local bookstore.

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"Una cosa es vestir y alimentar a nuestras hijas, sin embargo lo esencial es enseñarles que otras personas — fuera de ellas mismas — son tambien importantes. Lo mejor que pueden hacer con sus vidas es dedicarlas al servicio de los demás."

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