Monday, August 21, 2006

The New Meme: Democracy as Extremism

David Sirota has an interesting post on this:

You can tell how much Washington, D.C. is panicking by the rise of grassroots politics by looking at the now weekly declarations by politicians and pundits that they actually hate democracy. That's hyperbole, you say? Just take a look at a few comments that have come from the upper echelons of the political/media establishment - comments that finally admit to us how those who purport to legislate and report in our name really in their gut despise American democracy.

Two days after Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the primary, New York Times columnist David Brooks announced that voters shouldn't be allowed to decide elections. Yes, that's right - he wrote:

"Polarized primary voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics."

This week, New Republic editor Peter Beinart publicly celebrated the corporate-funded Democratic Leadership Council for its effort to insulate politicians from accountability to voters - actually claiming with a straight face that such insulation means politicians will better represent voters:

"The DLC remains an organization of politicians that believes the less beholden politicians are to grassroots activists, the better they will represent voters as a whole."

That last comment suggests that it would be better to have no grassroot activists at all, and I'm sure Peter Beinart would agree. Of course there's the small problem of funding...

Has it occurred to you how this sudden worry over the grassroot activism has cropped up because of grassroot activism in the Democratic party? It's all about Ned Lamont.

You may not even know about Joe Schwartz:

Republican challenger Tim Walberg upset Rep. Joe Schwarz in Tuesday's GOP primary in southern Michigan, using a staunchly conservative message and help from the Washington-based Club for Growth to defeat the first-term congressman.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Walberg had 53 percent. Schwarz had 47 percent.

"I look at this election as probably a victory for Right to Life, anti-abortion, anti-embryonic stem cell groups but it's a net loss for the Republican party because it just pushes the party farther to the right," Schwarz said in an interview. He called Walberg to concede the race.

Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, had tried to fend off Walberg, R-Tipton, in a rematch of sorts in the 7th Congressional District. The first-term congressman defeated Walberg and four conservatives with only 28 percent of the vote in the 2004 GOP primary and was targeted this year by the conservative Club for Growth, which poured in advertising and fundraising dollars.

Walberg led Schwarz by wide margins in Lenawee County, his home, and Hillsdale County, a conservative region of the state. Schwarz led in Calhoun County and had a slight lead in Eaton County, areas he represented in the state Senate. Walberg led in Jackson County, the most populous in the district.

Joe Schwartz is fairly alone in worrying about the extremism of the right.

Indeed, the definition of "extremist" in the U.S. is dependent on which political end one studies. There's almost nothing that could define a wingnut as an extremist. They are, after all, in power right now. But at the other end the label "extremist" is applied to even some moderate Republicans and certainly to Hillary Clinton. Most liberals and progressives in the United States wouldn't even qualify as leftists in Europe. But we now have not only a new wingnut vocabulary (freeance and peance) but also a new way of defining what is extreme: real democracy.
This is what happens when I try to write half-asleep...