Robby Soave, associate editor at Reason magazine, claimed Thursday on Twitter that the phrase “MoveOn,” referencing the activist site MoveOn.org, was “originally about ‘moving on’ from the Bill Clinton sexual misconduct episode.”
Soave made the remark in response to a MoveOn.org tweet directed at Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who has been accused of sexual harassment. “Progressives & Democrats must not tolerate sexual harassment or assault,” the organization tweeted.
MoveOn.org was initially founded as a grassroots operation to oppose impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.
News reports broke in January 1998 alleging that then-President Bill Clinton had a sexual affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton later faced charges of perjury for testimony about his relationship with Lewinsky. These charges, in addition to public revelations about the sex scandal, contributed to a political and media firestorm for Clinton.
As this scandal dragged on for the better part of 1998, two tech-savvy activists started a website, MoveOn.org, and launched an online petition in late 1998 aimed at redirecting Congress’ energies away from the scandal and towards other policy issues.
“The Congress must immediately censure President Clinton and move on to pressing issues facing the country,” its one-sentence long petition read.
It went on to receive more than 475,000 signatures and cemented MoveOn.org as a grassroots, progressive organization.
MoveOn.org says it was created after its founders had a “deep frustration” with the political fallout of Clinton’s presidential sex scandals, describing it as a “ridiculous waste of our nation’s focus.”
The petition site was one of many groups that pushed back against calls for Clinton’s impeachment, including Feminist Majority (an alliance of 19 women’s groups), Enough Is Enough and People For The American Way, which had partnered with MoveOn.org.
Although the House eventually voted to impeach Clinton in December 1998, these groups successfully rallied grassroots support for their message. Republican congressmen at the time even reported having technical issues from a flood of “move on” emails.
In the time since Clinton’s impeachment, MoveOn.org launched a political action committee (PAC) that has spent more than $180 million in support of various progressive and Democratic campaigns.
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