Sonntag, Mai 06, 2007

Move On...

Yep, I'm back. Sortofkindof.

One of the dangers for any democracy are special interest groups who invariably cloak their special interests in the mantle of general political will, based on polls and questionnaires that can be manipulated and twisted to serve their own purposes.

Add to this the goals of some of the NGOs and special interest groups - of wielding political power vastly in excess of their constituency, which tends to be rich liberals with guilt complexes - that are, at the end of the day, fundamentally undemocratic, because they do not reflect the actual needs and political desires of the populace, but rather create the need and political desires within a populace that doesn't know that it is being misled.

Normally the usual political savvy and distrust of politicians for lobbyists, who always demand a quid pro quo that may cost the politician too much if such is revealed, will keep such groups at arms' length from the politicians, who rightfully are skeptical about what these groups claim and deliver.

Right now, though, we have an interesting situation. We all know that has developed from a small grass-roots anti-Clinton-impeachment web site into a political organization that is seeking to exert massive influence over the politics of the Democratic Party.

Fundamentally, MoveOn has become an electronic precinct machine, building on the fundamental political mode of the Democratic Party, which is the establishment of their political machinery to "capture" voting groups.

The danger here is that the Democratic Party has become the party of opportunists: Pelosi is an excellent example of this, a politician whose only principles are following polls and rewarding those who basically financed her election success, as well as those who paid for the political success of the Democratic Party in the last election.

What does this look like?

Look here: The last several sentences state the intent clearly.

MoveOn is now apparently interested in one thing and one thing only: that the US withdraw from Iraq, regardless of what that means. They are clearly gearing up to make this goal also the goal of the Democratic Party.

So who is MoveOn? That is both easy and hard to say: it is a political activism clearing house, with more than 3 mn members. That sounds impressive, and it largely is: but it is also only 1% of the US population. They call themselves "Democracy in action": they are, however, a fiercely partisan group, clearly far-left for the US. They consider it to be a great success when hundreds of thousands of people sign their petitions, such as proclaiming that Fox News is not a "neutral" source of information.

They are, right now, the premier organized leftist interest group in the US. Nothing less than that.

So let's go back to their goal: Withdrawal from Iraq.

How are they going to achieve this?

Read the NYT article and it is clear: not by argument, but rather by politically finessing the story and pressuring lawmakers to toe their party line.

I went to the MoveOn web site to see what I could find: you can sign petitions, you can read about their success stories, you can sign up.

But what you can't find is their real arguments. There are no discussion groups, no forums, nothing but a pure political organization.

Fine: I understand that they had problems with forums in the past, that they turned anti-semitic and abusive to those criticizing their position.

What I don't like about MoveOn is that they are first and foremost activists. Activism - of going out and flogging your message - is part and parcel of the democratic process, but this is activism gone wild: there is no there, there.

What they also forget is that the United States is not first and foremost a democracy, but rather a republic with democratic legitimation of the political process. Pure democracy - such as, say, Switzerland with its constant plebescite voting - is beholden to those who can mobilize the greatest number to go out and vote on individual issues, usually without any sort of quorum necessary to legitimize the decision process (i.e. the voting process does not require a minimum turnout to legitimize the popular vote). The danger here - which the founding fathers clearly saw, as documented in the Federalist papers - is pure populism, i.e. the winding up of emotional responses to achieve political gains, be it to go to war (Spanish-American War), be it to outlaw alcohol (prohibition), be it to demonize your political opponent (Bush '43).

And it is this latter that is disturbing: to repeat, there is no there, there, at MoveOn: it is rapidly becoming a precinct machine, turning out the loyal faithful who will do what the political machine demands it to do. This has been the fundamental mode of operation of the Democratic Party for most of this century: the political machines, for instance, of Daley in Chicago were formidable and continue to exist today.

But the danger here lies in the fact that precinct machine called MoveOn is not controlled by the Democratic Party: if anything, the reverse is true, and that is disturbing, as there is no transparency there. Where there is no transparency, there is no control: where there is no control, misuse and abuse are pre-programmed.

Me, I'm in favor of repealing any and all laws that govern political activism, but with one caveat: full transparency. Full disclosure of where the money comes from, what it is used for, and what happens with any sort of surplus.

You see, I don't trust them: the anti-war movement is full of neo-stalinists with shady finances and even more problematic links between those who would damage the US and those whose ideologies reject the role that the US has been forced to fill, that of the global policeman.

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