A group of strangers gathered at Mary Weadon's Herndon home last Sunday to discuss the war in Iraq and politics in general. The gathering was part of the nationwide MoveOn movement, aimed at getting people more involved in politics.
On Dec. 7, the participants watched a documentary on Iraq then spoke to the producer via a conference call. The Herndon gathering was one of an estimated 2,500 parties held nationwide last week.
"More than 20 to 25 people responded, but it snowed that day so I had about 15 people," Weadon said. "I had to have a neighbor help me move the TV into a larger room to accommodate everybody."
"IT'S A WAY to try to stay informed on issues in a more in-depth way," said Dr. Ursula Nogic of Reston, who attended the Weadon party. "I have found I have access to more in-depth information rather than a blip on the news. … MoveOn breaks things down in a personal way."
The MoveOn movement is an Internet-based political forum with Democratic leanings. The Web site was launched by two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who were "frustrated with the impeachment" of former President William Clinton, according to the site.
Weadon said that while the site does not specifically align itself to one party or the other, the general philosophy tends to be more pro-Democratic.
"You're not going to see pro-Republican issues, but you might see a bill introduced by [Sen.] John McCain [R-Ariz.] because he tends to cross party lines," Weadon said.
Since its launch, the site has become a way for people to express their views on campaign reform, environmental issues, gun safety and nuclear disarmament, among others. Last week's topic was a documentary, "Iraq: The Truth Uncovered."
Weadon said the party, which she named Patriotic Pursuit, gave the participants an opportunity to talk about the presidential candidates in next year's primary, generated talk about what she called the inconsistencies that led to the Iraq conflict and a decision on what the individuals can do as a group to act on the concerns they have.
"I called the party Patriotic Pursuit because in the last couple of years there has been a sense that patriotism is about flags and not questioning. I got a sense from some of the participants, that one of the highest forms of patriotism is holding the government to the highest standards possible," Weadon said.
NOGIC SAID the site provides people who are too busy to become fully involved in politics the opportunity to stay informed and feel a part of the democratic process at a grassroots level.
"MoveOn is really in a position to be a voice for people who do have some concerns," Nogic said. "It gives me the opportunity to meet with people of different interests and share ideas."
So far, the experience has drawn people from across the political spectrum said Nogic. Weadon has also come across people who were not very political active and have since become more involved with gathering information about issues that concern them.
"I think there are some who are new to political action. I've shared [some of the information] with my colleagues that were not familiar with MoveOn and they've taken an interest," Weadon said.
The participants at the party have created an e-mail list, which allows them to share their concerns on a variety of political issues, said Weadon.
"Democracy is a gift from our forefathers, and everyone has an obligation to be knowledgeable about our government," Nogic said.