Attila the Pun
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Movin' on down

Good news people. For all of you frustrated that Australia didn't have a home grown version of Moveon.org, there is now hope.

GetUp.org.au has now launched. Rather than one of those boring political parties that require attendence at branch meetings, handing out pamphlets, attending policy discussions etc, this is a political movement for the 21st century - high on indignation, low on required effort

Rather than sitting through tedious party branch meetings, the outfit will ask voters to donate to web and TV ads, think up their own campaign ideas and lobby politicians by email and SMS.

And the geniuses behind this?

The project is the brainchild of Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, who met while studying at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in the US.

Last year the pair started Win Back Respect, a group that produced attack ads during last year's US presidential race arguing that George Bush's foreign policy was damaging America's world standing.

And look how sucessful they were.

Using small donations from online contributors, Win Back Respect paid for a speaking tour by General Wesley Clark and hired a charter plane for the Band of Sisters, a group of female relatives of US soldiers killed or serving in Iraq, to chase Vice-President Dick Cheney on the campaign trail.

Wow, they paid a losing Democrat presidential nominee to do a speaking tour, then exploited the deaths of US servicemen in Iraq to harass the US Vice-President. I can't wait for such tactics to be applied in Australia. Why not get Latham to do a speaking tour, or get relative of Bali victims to harass Treasurer Costello? Success in a bottle I tells ya.

Now Mr Heimans, 27, and Mr Madden, 30, want to translate that success to Australia, hoping to reach people who have progressive political views but little time and money.

I am pretty sure that line about success was meant with a straight face.

They have already made their first television advertisement — a spot that features ordinary Australians warning the Howard Government that voters will hold them to account for their Senate majority now that Parliament cannot.

So a movement that scorns traditional politics wants to remind a traditional (and highly sucessful) political organisation that they will have to answer to voters in a few years time? Wow guys, talk about subverting the dominant paradigm.

The group's initial recruitment target is the 69,000 Australian-based email subscribers of MoveOn, another political group in the US that campaigned to oust Mr Bush from office last year with donated funds.

Now here is a curious thing - how did they get those emails? The website of MoveOn states:

We treat your contact information as private and confidental. We will not provide your contact information to any other organization except MoveOn.org Civic Action unless you specifically authorize us to do so.

I wonder if all of these 69,000 people "specifically authorised" MoveOn to give their details to GetUp. If not, why should anybody believe GetUp when they claim:

GetUp will not provide your personal information to any other organisation except where necessary eg to verify credit card transactions or as required by law.

We won't sell, trade or exchange your information without your permission.

But I shouldn't mock them. This kind of organisation is drawing together people who have though a lot about the issue facing us today, and have meaningful contributions to make regarding improving things. People like "Sean":

"I'm concerned about education, environmental infrastructure, changes to industrial relations, and indigenous disadvantage. I want to do something about this stuff."

Right on man - lets fix this "stuff". Or "Alex"

"I want to be a member of GetUp because when the chips are down and we've got a big fight on our hands I am the kind of guy that thinks to himself, "Get up and fight!" GetUp typifies that type of Aussie determination I hold close to my heart."

Careful Alex - those sentiments appear to be endorsing violent resistance, not to mention stereotyping about Australian attitudes - you don't want to be brought before the GetUp People's Committee let me tell you. "Luke" is all about being fair:

"I'm getting involved because I just reckon this country's not fair anymore. Australia was always a fair country, but I don't think that's true anymore. I've joined GetUp to make this country a fair place again."

Fair enough. He makes a fair point really, repeatedly. Simon wants to do something, but doesn't want to have to pay membership fees or help out at election time:

"I joined GetUp because I'm not interested in joining a political party but I'm still interested in politics. I don't want to just have my say one day every three years."

OMG - by joining GetUp you can like totally SMS the Government everyday mang!

Labor should try and get GetUp to organise a flash mob at the next leadership vote.

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