Issue Groups vs. Parties
by steveolson, Wed Jul 12, 2006 at 06:17:23 PM EDT
So this is my first diary post at MyDD. Obviously, I am too damn lazy to update my own site, so I will write it here.
Basically, as much as I love reading blogs, it drives me absolutely bat-shit insane to see how a medium like this still seems to favor over-simplification of political dynamics - and the Lamont/Lieberman campaign is a great example of it. Here are three things I wish people would think about more:
a) Parties aggregate diverse constituencies into (more or less) cohesive groups and their mission is to attain/retain power for that group. As a result, issues positions are not constant over time.
b) Issue organizations are built around a single constituency and their mission is to advocate for their issue and therefore their issue positions do not change over time (significantly).
What I don't think a lot of people get is that there are pro-choice republicans (seriously, there are) and (a lot more) pro-life democrats.
The existence of the these minority positions within parties necessitates that a (pro or anti) choice organization will need to work across party lines to fashion an appropriate coalition to get their goals accomplished - in addition to attaining majority votes, they need sponsors, supporters in committees, etc. etc.
While it may be possible, in fact I would go so far as to say that it IS true, that a pro-choice org would be best under democratic control of all three branches of government, there is no guarantee that in the intermediate term that adopting that strategy would not create unsustainable costs.
The most common retort here would be to use the "dems vote for a dem speaker therefore you should support a pro-life dem" argument - which would make sense, if one didn't take into account (or disagrees with) my contention that parties pick up and drop issues based on a desire to win/hold power. Parties don't make enforceable promises - Candidates do.
It is MUCH easier to hold an individual (or group of individuals) to account than a whole party.
Finally, it should not go unacknowledged that Joe did NOT vote for cloture - and many people feel that should automatically disqualify him from support of pro-choice/privacy orgs. Really, that is a drastic over simplification. Even if he supports choice positions 75% of the time (for argument's sake - i don't know the real number) why would you gamble that reasonably solid vote for a candidate with no vote history? It is easy for a pro-choice citizen (like me) to decide that I want to roll the dice, but for an organization with patients whose lives depend on that funding/service, I think most people would recognize that it is a bitter pill to swallow - but it has to be done.
Sorry to be so preachy.