Justin Ruben had a good meeting with President Obama last week.
As the new executive director of MoveOn.org, the 35-year-old Texan was invited to a small White House gathering for allies on February 18, where he brought a message from his five million members to the new President. "This is a moment to go big," he said, citing daily conversations with MoveOn activists. "We understand that's not going to be easy, but people are mobilized and willing to fight to make it happen. That's really what I carried with me into that room," he said. Ruben outlined MoveOn's goals, its Obama strategy and its mechanisms for grassroots accountability in an exclusive interview with The Nation this week, his first extensive discussion with the media since taking the helm of one of the largest progressive organizations in the country.
In the end, it is hard to balance moderated grassroots energy with coordinated national campaigns, or to toggle from White House meetings with the President to hammering the administration with independent pressure. But for a relatively young, self-organized political organization, these are good problems to have.