Saturday, October 11, 2008

A little more about politics . . .

I am so sick of this election season!

I don't know that I have a whole lot of news worthy of taking your time, here.
  • Sarah Palin is found to have "abused" her power as governor . . . apparently primarily by having failed to rein-in her husband. As the AP's Matt Apuzzo reports,
    Todd Palin had extraordinary access to the governor's office and her closest advisers and he used that access to try to get Wooten fired.

    Gov. Palin knowingly "permitted Todd to use the Governor's office and the resources of the Governor's office, including access to state employees, to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired," Branchflower's report reads.
  • And Obama has been tied far too closely to ACORN.
  • And in an apparent surge of truly amazing "decency under fire" [or did he go too far? And was he conceding defeat?] John McCain stands up against outlandish charges against his rival.

But what I really want to write about are two things that have come to my attention in the last two days.

First, a tie between ACORN (and ACORN's tactics) and a fundamental philosophical paper written 40 years ago. And, second, a political commentary in our local newspaper that, together with my having finally read the platforms of my two chosen "third parties," has gotten me wondering if I should back off of my earlier claim that I think I finally feel free to "vote my conscience."

First, the philosophical paper.

In a fascinating (or should I call it disturbing?) paper written back in 2005 and found at, "a guide to the political left," we read,
First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. . . .

Cloward and Piven published an article titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, . . . [a]ctivists were abuzz over the so-called "crisis strategy" or "Cloward-Piven Strategy," as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when "the rest of society is afraid of them," Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would "the rest of society" accept their demands. . . .

Cloward and Piven recruited a militant black organizer named George Wiley to lead their new movement. In the summer of 1967, Wiley founded the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). His tactics closely followed the recommendations set out in Cloward and Piven's article. His followers invaded welfare offices across the United States -- often violently -- bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. By 1969, NWRO claimed a dues-paying membership of 22,500 families, with 523 chapters across the nation.

Regarding Wiley's tactics, The New York Times commented on September 27, 1970, "There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests - and, on occasion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones."

These methods proved effective. "The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley's wildest dreams," writes Sol Stern in the City Journal.

"From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city's private economy."

As a direct result of its massive welfare spending, New York City was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. The entire state of New York nearly went down with it. The Cloward-Piven strategy had proved its effectiveness. . . .

In 1982, partisans of the Cloward-Piven strategy founded a new "voting rights movement," which purported to take up the unfinished work of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Like ACORN, the organization that spear-headed this campaign, the new "voting rights" movement was led by veterans of George Wiley's welfare rights crusade. Its flagship organizations were Project Vote and Human SERVE, both founded in 1982. Project Vote is an ACORN front group, launched by former NWRO organizer and ACORN co-founder Zach Polett. Human SERVE was founded by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, along with a former NWRO organizer named Hulbert James.

All three of these organizations -- ACORN, Project Vote and Human SERVE -- set to work lobbying energetically for the so-called Motor-Voter law, which Bill Clinton ultimately signed in 1993. The Motor-Voter bill is largely responsible for swamping the voter rolls with "dead wood" -- invalid registrations signed in the name of deceased, ineligible or non-existent people -- thus opening the door to the unprecedented levels of voter fraud and "voter disenfranchisement" claims that followed in subsequent elections.

The new "voting rights" coalition combines mass voter registration drives -- typically featuring high levels of fraud -- with systematic intimidation of election officials in the form of frivolous lawsuits, unfounded charges of "racism" and "disenfranchisement," and "direct action" (street protests, violent or otherwise). Just as they swamped America's welfare offices in the 1960s, Cloward-Piven devotees now seek to overwhelm the nation's understaffed and poorly policed electoral system. Their tactics set the stage for the Florida recount crisis of 2000, and have introduced a level of fear, tension and foreboding to U.S. elections heretofore encountered mainly in Third World countries.
Yeah. I'd say that describes things pretty accurately!

And then the editorial that has me in a quandary about "voting my conscience" v. voting for the "lesser of two evils."

Mike Rosen, a conservative columnist with a modest libertarian bent, suggested, in yesterday's paper, that Party trumps person--with a corollary idea that "Major party trumps [i.e., ought to trump] minor party" affiliations.
A superficial cliche goes something like this: "I'm an independent thinker; I vote the person, not the party." This pronouncement is supposed to demonstrate open-mindedness and political sophistication on the part of the pronouncer. [But that's naive.]

For better or worse, we have a two-party system. Either a Republican, John McCain, or a Democrat, Barack Obama, is going to be our next president. No one else has a chance. . . . Minor-party candidates are sometimes spoilers . . . but they don't win presidential elections. . . .

In Europe's multiparty, parliamentary democracies, governing coalitions are formed after an election. In our constitutional republic, the coalitions are already in place.

The Republican coalition is an alliance of conservatives, middle- and upper-income taxpayers (but not leftist Hollywood millionaires and George Soros), individualists who prefer limited government, those who are pro-market and pro-business, believers in American exceptionalism and a strong national defense, social issues conservatives and supporters of traditional American values.

The Democratic coalition includes [people with different views].

I say party trumps person because regardless of the individual occupying the White House, his party's coalition will be served. A Democratic president, for example, . . . can only operate within the political boundaries of his party's coalition. The party that wins the presidency will fill Cabinet and sub-Cabinet discretionary positions in the executive branch with members of its coalition. Likewise, the coalition will be the dominant source of nominees to the federal courts, ambassadorships, appointments to boards and commissions, and a host of plum jobs handed out to those with political IOUs to cash in.

It works the same way in the legislative branch. After the individual members of a new Congress have been seated, a nose count is taken and the party with the most noses wins control of all committee and subcommittee chairmanships, the locus of legislative power.

Let's say you're a registered Republican who prefers that party's philosophy of governance. And you're a fair-minded, well-intentioned person who happens to like a certain moderately conservative Democrat running for U.S. Senate. So you decide to cross party lines and vote for him. As it turns out, he wins, giving Democrats a one-vote majority, 51-49. Congratulations! You just got Charles Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton as key committee chairs and a guarantee that your Republican legislative agenda will be stymied.

That's the way the process works. Does this mean that in our two-party system it comes down to choosing between the lesser of evils? Exactly! . . . You can be a purist and cast your vote symbolically with a fringe party, or be a player and settle for the least imperfect of the Republican or Democrat alternatives.

A vote for McCain is a vote for the party of constitutionalist judges, Adam Smith, the NRA, Gen. David Petraeus and Ronald Reagan. A vote for Obama is a vote for judicial activism, Karl Marx, the ACLU, the NEA, the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, Al Gore, Cindy Sheehan, Keith Olbermann and Rosie O'Donnell.

Your vote; your choice.
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