“A conspiracy so immense”: ideological commitment and the timidity of pragmatic politics
“What will it take for the mainstream media to cover the progressive movement?” Washington Free Beacon:
Let’s pretend that in the spring of 2012 Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, John Engler of the Business Roundtable, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, and Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association began to organize an assembly of right-leaning groups.
Let’s pretend that in the months since there had been not one but two meetings where these luminaries joined with representatives of Christians United For Israel, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party Express, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the American Petroleum Institute to discuss strategy and promote a series of “structural reforms” that would make it easier for them to advance conservative goals in Congress.
Let’s pretend that by the time of the second meeting, which was held within sight of the White House, the coalition had grown to encompass some 36 different interest groups pledging millions of dollars.
How much press coverage would be devoted to this fictive cabal?
It is impossible to say. But is it not unreasonable to assume that our pretend meeting of the vast right-wing conspiracy would attract far more scrutiny than was devoted to the actual, real-life, believe-it-or-not inaugural meetings of the progressive “Democracy Initiative”? After all, no one seemed to know anything about those meetings, held in June and December 2012, until a writer for Mother Jones named Andy Kroll broke the story on Wednesday. As of this writing exactly two other people, a blogger for the Washington Monthly and a blogger for The Ed Show, have picked up Kroll’s story.
The rest of what is too generously called the “mainstream media” has not said a word. [...]
And it is a major story. The brainchild of Michael Brune, Phil Radford, Larry Cohen, and Ben Jealous, the Democracy Initiative, according to Mother Jones’s Kroll, is “the first time so many groups teamed up to work on multiple issues not tied to an election.”
These guys have pull. Brune is the executive director of the Sierra Club and former executive director of the more radical Rainforest Action Network. Radford runs Greenpeace. Cohen is the president of the 700,000-member Communications Workers of America, “the largest telecommunications union in the world.” Jealous is the president and chief executive officer of the NAACP. Their “conversations in recent years” about the malign influence of conservative donors in politics developed into the “invite-only and off-the-record” meetings in June and December, where representatives of “30 to 35 groups” pledged “a total of millions of dollars and dozens of organizers to form a united front” on the issues of “getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation.” The most recent meeting was held at the headquarters of the 3-million-strong National Education Association, which is less than half a dozen blocks north of where President Barack Obama works.
Who showed up to the progressive retreat? Again, it is hard to say because Kroll does not divulge all of the participants. Can’t alert the enemy to your every move, I suppose. But here in alphabetical order are the groups he does mention: the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Color of Change, Common Cause, Demos, the Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, Mother Jones (in a “non-editorial” capacity!), National People’s Action, the National Wildlife Federation, People for the American Way, the Piper Fund, Public Campaign, the Service Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers, and Voto Latino. Brune of the Sierra Club predicts there will be 50 participating organizations by spring.
Insiders might note that some of these groups were among those dropped from the Democracy Alliance—the secret consortium of progressive donors organized by George Soros and Rob McKay—when it opted for intervening directly in Democratic Party politics rather than seeding less partisan and more ideological institutions. So on some level the Democracy Initiative should be considered the Democracy Alliance’s younger and slightly less attractive sister. But it is also more than that.
The crack researchers at the Center for American Freedom tell me that totaling the reported revenue of only a portion of the groups participating in the Democracy Initiative gives you a figure of around $1.69 billion. Somewhat ironic, isn’t it, that an association of organizations with combined revenue of more than a billion dollars is launching a campaign to get “big money out of politics.” Like all such campaigns, of course, the Democracy Initiative is less about getting money out of politics than it is about getting the wrong sort of money out of politics—in this case, the sort of money dispensed by industries and ideologues opposed to the progressive agenda.
The Democracy Initiative will “target” Chevron, “which gave $2.5 million to a Super PAC backing House Republican candidates in 2012.” The Democracy Initiative will target Google “for its continued membership with the generally pro-Republican U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” The Democracy Initiative will target the American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of businesses and state-legislators that promotes conservative laws and has been under ferocious assault from liberals seeking to stigmatize its donors and thereby cause its collapse. “We’re going to put the pressure on ALEC even more,” Phil Radford of Greenpeace told Mother Jones. ALEC should consider itself warned.
And not only ALEC: The Democracy Initiative seems to be a fairly straightforward attempt to change the rules of the game so that greens and unions can push their agenda through the Senate. The logic here is that the Democrats have at least a chance of retaking the House in 2014, in which case Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) would be the only obstacle to in-your-face progressivism. Why else the emphasis on filibuster reform? It was the threat of a filibuster in 2009 and 2010 that prevented the Senate from considering the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy tax bill as well as the card-check legislation that would make it easier for unions to bolster their ranks and political power. Without a Republican House and the ability of minority parties to block legislation in the Senate, the chances of passing bills to amnesty illegal immigrants and raise taxes further would improve. Fighting efforts to restrict “voting rights” is a useful means of mobilizing the Democratic vote. One team is playing the long game, friends, and it is definitely not the conservative one.
What little we know of the Democracy Initiative provides a useful lesson in the ability of fantasy to inspire political action. Progressivism sets the political and cultural and social agenda; it is embedded in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, in the academy, in journalism, and in much of corporate America; many of the richest counties in the nation support liberal Democrats; President Obama outraised and out-spent his Republican challenger; the combined budgets of progressive interest groups and foundations and think tanks and nonprofits and community organizations is practically incalculable; the most liberal president since Lyndon Baines Johnson is barreling ahead with a confrontational and ideological approach to cabinet appointments and budget fights; Republicans and conservatives are in their greatest state of shock and disarray since 1992 and perhaps since 1964; and yet progressive elites such as the well-compensated Radford of Greenpeacestill are swinging at the windmill of the “40-plus-year strategy by the Scaifes, Exxons, Coors, and Kochs of the world” to “take over the country.”
Someone needs to give the members of the Democracy Initiative a tap on the shoulder, a kick in the pants, a wonk-like nudge—anything to wake them from their fantasy of being weak and isolated and besieged, anything to alert them to the fact that it is they, not “the Scaifes, Exxons, Coors, and Kochs of the world” who actually run the country and therefore ought to be covered in a diligent, scrupulous, and adversarial fashion. One thing is for sure: It won’t be the mainstream media that holds the progressive movement to account.
I’m not going to dance around this and suggest that this is merely politics as usual, only on more determined and grander scale. Why does the right hate freedom of association? we’ll be asked, and pragmatists on the right — worried about how they’ll have to defend Citizens United yet again and afraid of the taint of “conspiracy theories” engaged in by “fringe extremists” — will sneer and call us Visigoths, unknowing in the ways of DC, as they rush to distance themselves from the scorn that we seem always to bear on their behalf.
But there is a difference here: this is a concerted effort that is largely immune to public scrutiny. It is an effort that has as part of the collusion a supposedly free and neutral press; the imprimatur supposedly intellectually rigorous academe; and the pop-cultural propaganda arm of Hollywood, pushing much of the subtext that will underlie the policy narratives we’ll begin seeing pushed.
So, if no one else is going to risk ridicule and have the balls to say it, I will: this is a coup. And most of don’t even know it’s happening.
The way to fight this is to fall back on the Constitution. We can all read it. It isn’t written in arcane language that only a priesthood of robed philosopher kings and queens — many of who are now mere planted political activists — can read and understand. So at each sophistic attempt by the legislature or the courts to deny us our Constitutional protection over natural rights, we must resist, be in through state or local nullification efforts, civil disobedience, lawsuits, or efforts to remove those lawmakers who fail to uphold their Constitutional oath.
We don’t hold elections on whether or not to uphold the Constitution; at least, not in theory. The New Left, however, doesn’t see it that way, and they are prepared to use the regulatory agencies, Executive Orders, changes to the filibuster rules, and truly saccharine populist demagoguery to bully us into “reasonable compromises” on the breadth and reach of our natural rights.
We cannot compromise. Compromise is nothing more than losing more slowly, and with each salvo against our natural rights the Left is able to gain a measure of acquiescence, they just grow emboldened and prepare for the next salvo.
The current GOP establishment leadership, which the GOP just re-elected, has shown it wants nothing more than to live in its comfortable Beltway bubble, cutting deals, agreeing to compromises, and working in a “bi-partisan” way so as not to be labeled “obstructionists.” That is, they are willing to compromise away our rights for their comforts. As such, we cannot look to them for protection, and instead must work even harder to replace them with pro-Constitution representatives.
Perhaps one way to do this is galvanize a TEA Party initiative that actively — not through mere rhetoric, though an orchestrated alternative media campaign would certainly help, but through whatever procedural and legal pressures brought to bear to have offending Congressman removed from duty, particularly those on “our side,” are at our disposal. And to begin that, we need to know just what our options are. And all of this must take place in the context of state and local nullification and civil disobedience efforts and large scale demonstrations that at least local news will cover — video of which we can then disseminate on social media, going around the leftist narrative gatekeepers of the mainstream national press.
I’ll say this again, and in all seriousness: this is a coup. We are living through an attempted coup — the result of a New Left strategy that relies less on ostensible violence than it does on the long march through the institutions, and now the concerted funding source to destroy the remains of free market capitalism. And make no mistake: many of those giant pro-market industries that will come under attack will switch positions and join the crony capitalist cabal that allows the left to maintain the appearance of a “capitalist” economy even as what they are institutionalizing is liberal fascism, to be imposed on largely disarmed subjects, who are to be molested through the tax code, the regulatory code, and by the hamstringing of their natural rights, which tyrannical men will claim to lord over and reform as privilege.
Which they dole out in exchange for their secured and permanent power.
Businesses are largely risk averse, and those large enough to be targeted will make the pragmatic decision to survive. Smaller businesses, under heavier tax burdens and under duress from regulators and lawmakers (a quid pro quo to the large corporations who join the progressive coup effort), will fold or struggle mightily, limiting competition.
In much the same way, GOP establishment lawmakers will surrender to big government, recognizing that the appearance of a two party system keeps them safe and flush with campaign money from those who oppose the coup. Because they realize that every once in a while, they’ll be voted into power, and then the large revenue streams and the crony system will, for a period, benefit and enrich them. In fact, it is government qua government that, recognizing the benefits to itself, will clamp down on citizens in order to hold on to the power and perks they are now solidifying for themselves. Party makes no difference. Only virtuous men and women are fit to run a free country, and we surrendered principle for pragmatism along time back — willingly, and while being told it was the only way to win elections. Because shut up, Teabagger Hobbit Visigoth racists.
My children will not live as slaves to a tyrannical state, no matter its veneer of beneficence. That’s mere construct, an orchestrated effort at appearances and perception control, gauged by a New Left who after 1972 realized it would need to use the tropes and trappings and institutions of a free-market capitalist republic to overtake it from within.
It is post-modernist philosophy put into physical usage: we have witnessed, if we cared to take notice, the studied and inexorable deconstruction of our Constitution, such that we now have laws deemed Constitutional by the Court that claim that of course a country formed on a Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical centralized authority can be compelled by that centralized authority to enter into private contracts — and that businesses be compelled to offer those contracts — the specifics of which are set by the central government. We have a Court that deemed it Constitutional that of course the government can take private land and give it to a shopping mall developer if the promise of increased revenue for that government comes to be considered and act in the public interest. And soon, we’ll be told that “shall not be infringed” is naturally open to infringements of all kinds, because shut up and think of the children.
“Equality” today means equality of outcome, or egalitarianism and homogeneity. “Tolerance” today means how dare you give offense — and your “hate speech” must be controlled. “Fair share” today means an immensely disproportionate amount is paid by those scapegoated by the left and given over to the left’s cronies, with some crumbs going to the poor, who become more and more entrenched in their dependence on the state, and more and more permanent clients to the state’s war on the free market.
To anyone who has studied language — and done so in a way where they didn’t feel compelled to follow the academic party line and pretend the sophistry of the post-structural movement, which has reached its zenith (or from the perspective of Enlightenment classical liberalism, its nadir) in anti-foundationalism — the physical, policy manifestations of such a corruption of our epistemology, informed by the premises we accept for the language that must necessarily describe and construct that epistemology, was an inevitability. As certain linguistic kernel assumptions were adopted, entrenched, and finally institutionalized — by all political stripes (“Yay, it’s the ‘democratization of language and meaning!’ We’re all for democracy! Go us!” — the effects of that adoption, played out in the world of language where language has performative functions (and no where is this moreso than in law and legislative policy), were preordained: collectivism, consensus, mob rule, all dressed up in the finery of studied, rigorous legal interpretation that, once certain conditions for “interpreting” were legitimated, were inevitable. And that’s precisely because the kernel assumptions were all cleverly laid by collectivists to deconstruct and or subsume the notion of individualism on every level.
This is a coup. And we’ve relied on cowards, charlatans, or know-nothings on “our” side to help push back against it.
That’s the plain truth, which is why it will be roundly ignored. Don’t like it? Fuck you, then. But I’ll still be here, shouting into the abyss. And even if it’s only in a very faint whisper, you’ll hear me.
(h/t geoff B)
update: more here, with less cursing and a more measured tone. Which is fine, if that’s what matters to you. And it seems to to many on “our” side.
Mostly because they’re ridiculous.