Politics are just the weighing of differing means to an end. Two elements are necessary when making a political case. First, you must have a moral argument that justifies taking the action. Second, that argument must have a moral standard that proves its means are acceptable. We are watching, in rather stunned disbelief, as the Democratic Party abandons all pretenses of morality to justify the means to their ends. Since their progressive/socialist policies have failed to achieve any economic or social success, there is now a wild-eyed flailing to save their political power. The following are two examples of the utter collapse of their ability to justify their moral case.
The Toddlers as Doorstops
Yesterday, a video of a mother arranging her children on the floor in front of a door became available. Stephen Gutowski recorded this exchange and it was put up in several locations. Here is the link to the video:
While it seems rather obvious that these people are not considering the peril they place the children in, you’d think cooler heads would see it differently. That isn’t so.
Consider a confrontation from Twitter. The link to this video was sent with this comment, “These people have no moral compass.” A woman shot a tweet back defending the mother of these children. Her tweet argued, “So Gandhi and MLK, who also involved children in their actions, had no moral compasses?”
On the face of it, this sounds like a reasonable counterargument. However, there are problems comparing these moral dilemmas. Gandhi and Martin Luther King did have children in their movements. Those children were parts of families in the body of their groups of protestors. The closest King ever did to use ‘children’ as socio-political pawns was to put high school and college aged children in segregated lunch counters. This was pointed out to the woman but she didn’t accept the difference. Instead of recognizing there were moral arguments and standards to what King and Gandhi did, she took a different tack.
“I’m talking about marching against Bull Connor, which included 6 year olds. And about the Allianwala Bagh action in India.”
It can easily be conceded that both Gandhi and King had children present in the movement. The key difference is the mother in the video had placed toddlers in front of doors in harm’s way while Gandhi and King had children in the body of their groups. These children had the benefit of their parents and the front lines of the protestors to protect them. The toddlers on the floor in front of doors had no such protection. Also, Gandhi and King had planned on using the family groups as a symbol of unity and courage. On the other hand, the mother in the video placed the toddlers in such a way as to almost guarantee injury should the convention center security forces do their jobs. The means of achieving an end were completely different. The fact that children happened to be present isn’t the governing principle.
This didn’t deter the woman on Twitter. She was convinced the two were the same. In response to a comment made about Gandhi’s peaceful movement and the violent nature of the OccupyThisandThat groups, she replied, “Oh, like Gandhi reporting in 1919 that his followers were not able to remain nonviolent?”
That is absolutely true. Both Gandhi and King had elements of their groups who didn’t believe non-violent civil disobedience was the path to success. These elements believed it would be necessary to physically fight with the opposing forces. These leaders bravely faced such opposition and forged alliances that would use peaceful resistance to achieve their goals. They learned, adapted, and presented moral arguments as to why using peaceful means would work the best towards their end.
Two principles they employed changed the minds of their wider audiences. First, they weren’t acting in a way that was physically threatening to others. They were simply present and in numbers demanding a change in the status quo. They also used the protests as a message, not just as a venue. When King had students sit-in at segregated lunch counters, it was a statement to the rest of the country. The simple, quiet act of ordering lunch was at odds with Democratic Party-sponsored segregationist law. It spoke volumes to the purpose of their protest.
The woman who propped up her infants in front of a door was saying what? Was she saying it wasn’t fair she wasn’t included in a conference? No, because she was trying to keep people from moving through the door, not to get inside. Was she presenting her children as starving waifs to the supposedly rich on the other side? No, she was using them as doorstops to prevent free movement.
That’s all. The Doorstop Mother and the other occupiers with her simply were throwing a hissy fit and calling people names. They were trying to draw attention to themselves, but without coherence or moral authority. Why should these people have the power to change society? What moral significance does their cause have? There is none because it is just a demand for a more equal ends by any means necessary. Their case lacks a moral argument.
The OccupyThisandThater’s are not alone in the Democratic Party ignoring the importance morality. The leaders of the Party have shown they have no moral standards.
Too Much Democracy
Gov. Bev Perdue, Democrat of North Carolina argued for bypassing congressional elections to achieve economic prosperity. Peter Orszag, Obama’s former OMB director believes we must make our institutions less democratic, to fix the economy. Thomas Friedman, leftwing advocate, believes we should have a Chinese-style politburo make our decisions for us. Obama himself has said he this from the White House’s official website, the transcript of his October 29, 2011 weekly address, “The truth is, we can no longer wait for Congress to do its job. The middle-class families who’ve been struggling for years are tired of waiting. They need help now. So where Congress won’t act, I will.” In other words, his Party’s policies have failed and now he must act unilaterally to enact more of the same.
The standard for democratically elected representatives acting on our behalf has been ignored.
This anti-democratic moral code, is now trickling down to the rank-and-file Democratic base. Lori Sturdevant, a dedicated Democratic Party advocate, wrote an interesting piece in the StarTribune, November 6, 2011, ‘Punting the tough issues to the people.’ She argues that our democratic institutions are just too bulky, too deliberate. We need to bypass people voting on referenda, initiatives, tax increases, and policy issues. We just have too much freedom and the people’s voices are getting in the way of ‘progress.’
Sturdevant is all for democratic voices in politics when they favor the Left. She’s a big fan of ranked choice voting which gives incumbents and political insiders more chances to offset protest votes and still win. “And they should agree with other ranked-choice proponents that in a democracy, majority rule is a good thing.” ‘Support growing for vote-by-ranking system,’ May 24, 2011. She’s all for majority rule when it supports her side, but when it comes to actual policy, she demurs.
From her ‘Punting’ article, “He [Minnesota state legislator Pat Garofalo] announced last week that he'll sponsor a requirement that school boards conduct levy referenda in even-numbered election years, when turnout is larger. Larger turnout would likely translate into more no votes for school taxes.
To Garofalo and other referendum-loving legislators, I'd recommend a sobering 2010 book: "California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It." Authors Joe Mathews and Mark Paul make a strong case that there's such a thing as too much direct democracy.”
Suddenly, Democrats, who’ve always argued the moral standard of more direct democratic voices, are suspicious of direct democracy. When they are on the losing end of an argument, their moral standards vanish like dew on a hot summer morning. We need direct democracy when it comes to policy initiatives that are popular but less democracy when there is skepticism.
There is no moral standard left. They are picking and choosing moral means depending on the polls. They have no moral argument for any of their positions. They are now grounded in expediency or narrative. Little is now said about the rightness of a policy but merely the rightness of the end.
That’s why we have a Democratic Party that is now adrift. Their argument is the moral equivalent of ‘or I’ll scream.’ They will use any means necessary to get their way. A mother using her toddlers as doorstops is acceptable because her goal is noble. Bypassing the democratic process to achieve a goal is now okay. Arguing for direct democracy and then against it depending on the popularity of the issue is their new standard. Since the ends they have promised haven’t come true, they have abandoned pretending they have moral arguments and standards.
Perhaps it’s because their arguments and standards were so contrived in the first place.
Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com