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A Short History of MoveOn

A Short History
About MoveOn Civic Action
About MoveOn Political Action
MoveOn’s Electoral Work
MoveOn’s Gift Acceptance Policy
Careers with MoveOn

For more than two decades, MoveOn members have organized and mobilized together, putting our collective people power to work to build a country and world where everyone can thrive.

Starting with our founding petition during the Clinton impeachment debate in 1998—the first breakout digital intervention in American politics—we have been at the forefront of innovating new ways digital tech can empower ordinary people from all walks of life to make their voices heard. MoveOn members have played a leading role in ending the war in Iraq, passing and defending landmark legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, and advancing racial, economic, and other forms of social justice. Since the 2016 election, we have been a pillar of the Resistance movement working to limit the harm caused by Trump and the GOP, while laying the groundwork for progress.

Read on to learn more about our story.

When tech entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd created an online petition about the Clinton impeachment in 1998 and emailed it to friends, they didn’t expect what came next. Within days, their petition to “Censure President Clinton and Move On to Pressing Issues Facing the Nation” had hundreds of thousands of signatures. For the first time in history, an online petition broke into and helped transform the national conversation.

Wes and Joan realized that their petition’s success only hinted at the internet’s potential to impact politics. They saw that the hundreds of thousands of concerned Americans who had signed their petition could be organized to take action on other issues, and that digital organizing had the potential to disrupt and fundamentally alter the course of our democracy. The signers of Wes and Joan’s petition became MoveOn’s first members.

In the years that followed, MoveOn pioneered the field of digital organizing, innovating a vast array of tactics that are now commonplace in advocacy and elections, and shifting power toward real people and away from Washington insiders and special interests. MoveOn campaigners were the first to use the internet to run virtual phone banks, to crowdsource TV ad production, and to take online organizing offline, using the internet to mobilize activists to knock on doors and attend events. We proved that individual Americans could pool lots of small contributions to make a big impact by raising hundreds of millions of dollars for progressive causes and candidates.

Together, in collaboration with allies, we have grown the progressive movement and demonstrated that ordinary people’s voices can make a difference. MoveOn members have played crucial roles in persuading the Democratic Party to oppose and eventually end America’s war in Iraq, in helping Democrats retake Congress in 2006 with our influential “Caught Red Handed” campaign, in securing the Democratic nomination for President Obama in 2008 with a pivotal endorsement before the Super Tuesday primaries, and in passing health care reform in 2010. More recently, we’ve surfaced student loans as a potent national issue, helped elevate the leadership of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and other progressives fighting inequality, mobilized more than half a million people to help take down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol grounds, led a massive grassroots mobilization to secure President Obama’s diplomatic agreement with Iran and prevent a costly and unnecessary war of choice.

Since immediately after the election of Donald Trump, MoveOn members have served as a pillar of the Resistance Movement.

MoveOn members have been at the forefront of the resistance as Trump and his Republican Party tried to take away health care from tens of millions, cut taxes for corporations and billionaires, separated immigrant families and caged children, given polluters free rein, attacked women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, working families, and other communities, and made war more likely. Through mass mobilizations, rapid-response actions, phone calls and emails to Congress, digital activism, and other strategic interventions, we have limited the harm done by Trump. Since 2017 we were one of the leading groups supporting his impeachment, which took place at the end of 2019 thanks to the Democratic House of Representatives that we helped elect in 2018 through our Resist & Win midterm election campaign, in which we endorsed and supported more than 100 federal candidates as well as more than 100 state and local candidates.

Step up as a MoveOn leader by starting your own MoveOn Petition campaign, adding your name to a campaign that’s already underway, or chipping in to support our work today.