Issue Groups vs. Parties

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.

Tags: Blogosphere, Joe Lieberman, Planned Parenthood, Senate 2006 (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

Re: Issue Groups vs. Parties

hey, welcome to mydd. not that i have much authority to welcome. i'm mostly a lurker too.

you can't win all the battles. but if you win the right ones, then the rest will fall behind, goes the logic. i think what a lot of the attack-dog stuff in the netroots is about is a desperate fight for the soul of the party. which is an obvious statement, i know, but let me qualify that in relation to your blog.

because it's easier to hold one person accountable to promises than a party, it becomes very important to consider the specifics of which individual people are setting the party agenda, developing the rhetoric. obviously. by waging such symbolic warfare (lamont is the dean revolution in a new form, lieberman is the reason we lost in 2004 - oddly) we begin to carve out an identity.

which puts us in a strange place between an issue group and a party. which is my probem with the blogosphere. and myself. we seem to have unanimously sprung from the anybody but bush campaign, and in that sense have the singular focus of the issue group. beyond that, i think it's uwaise to assume that we're in unanimity. because outside that, we function like a party.

hm. i haven't addressed your point. oops.

(for the record, progressive punch has lieberman's abortion percentile at 86%.)

by GetSamuel 2006-07-13 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Issue Groups vs. Parties

Thanks for the welcome - I am not much for writing, hence the lurking... you are pretty spot-on!

by steveolson 2006-07-13 09:29AM | 0 recs

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