Three hundred towns nationwide hosted the Bush-McCain Challenge, a rhetorical game inspired by the Pepsi-Coke Challenge, to promote MoveOn’s message of political activism at the University Town Center on Wednesday, May 28.
MoveOn is a non-partisan, grassroots organization that put the event together to resemble “a political protest with a twist.”
The challenge consisted of a list of five different questions intended to expose the similarities between the incumbent President George W. Bush and presidential hopeful John McCain. The voters chose between Bush, McCain or both in response to the various questions. Volunteers hoped to stump the participants with questions such as, “Who graduated in the bottom one percent of his college class,” “Who blocked a proposal to ban waterboarding torture in the [United States]” and “Who opposed health care for uninsured children last year?”
MoveOn volunteer Sharon Tipton explained that “Voters literally can’t tell the difference between President Bush and Senator McCain on issues. A vote for John McCain is a vote for a third Bush term. I think we’re all seeing that democracy is not a spectator sport.” Tipton, currently a Green Party member, joined the council at the invitation of her roommate.
Concepcion Guzman, a first-year biological sciences major, scored two out of five on the quiz and stated that although she has not been politically involved in the past, the challenge made McCain seem like a less attractive candidate. Guzman added that she “would probably vote for someone else.”
Genevieve Brown, a first-year, economics major who scored three out of five on the Bush-McCain Challenge, said “I already knew about the association between Bush and McCain but I signed up in order to be more informed.” Brown also mentioned that she would most likely be voting for Obama in the fall.
Volunteer Toni Dwyer believes that presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama can make a difference. “He understands the heart and soul of this country,” Dwyer said.
In response to a question about the tension between Senator Hillary Clinton and Obama in the primaries, Dwyer said, “The low level of attack we’ve seen is unappealing and has done damage that may be hard to repair.” Nonetheless, Dwyer and other MoveOn volunteers are confident that the Democratic Party will come together in the fall to support their chosen representative.
Kate Frankel Nikolenko, council lead for Irvine and the surrounding area, positively attributes their non-partisan stance to the number of members they attract. “If we’re non-partisan, we can hold candidates accountable and be issue-oriented,” Nikolenko said. Beginning with only two people, MoveOn now consists of 3.4 million members; California alone represents roughly one-third of MoveOn’s overall membership.
The group prides itself on maintaining excellent communication with its members and actively responding to their concerns. “You’ll find a voice with MoveOn,” said William Wood, MoveOn’s media lead for Irvine. “We send out e-mails regularly asking what issues our members care about.”
Though currently the council’s main focus is the upcoming election, Nikolenko says that after fall, MoveOn will continue working at the same pace but will change its focus. “We want to build progressive power and will be working year-round to do it,” Nikolenko said. MoveOn plans to continue with monthly nation-wide events in order to bring community members together and discover thoughts on a local basis.
Answers to “challenge” questions can be found at www.bush-mccainchallenge.com or MoveOn’s Web site at http://pol.moveon.org.