August 07, 2004

Now Get 50 Big Donors to Do This

by PG

Prof. Orin Kerr points to a rather trite scheme from John Perry Barlow, in which he will have a few dozen people start randomly dancing in "Republican-rich zones" [1] during the convention, in order to "make the Republicans uncomfortable."

What Barlow is missing is that GOP convention-goers actually expect New Yorkers to do stuff like this. [...] To be really subversive, Barlow should get 20 to 50 people together, dressed in pedestrian attire, and then have them act perfectly normal. That's right; don't do anything weird at all. The Republicans will have no idea what to make of it. I'm sure that will really throw them off their game.
Actually, I've been doing my bit to mess with the Republican Borg (Bork?), although my method probably violates a couple of statutes.

Last week, I noticed that my father had gotten a letter from Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. Dad has gotten so much mail from the national GOP lately that he ignores half of it and only troubles himself with the local races. Besides, he takes a more active interest in his homeland's battles, and his party's recent defeat seems to have discouraged him about politics generally.

This envelope included an official SURVEY DOCUMENT, assigned to Dad as a REPRESENTATIVE of ALL REPUBLICANS living in his voting district. Sen. Frist's letter asked his Friend (Quakerish address a Nixon throwback?) to fill out the survey, or if the Friend did not wish to do so, to return it unanswered, at which point presumably someone else would become REPRESENTATIVE of ALL REPUBLICANS living in his voting district. Quite incidentally, it also asked for Dad's "most generous contribution to the NRSC of $500."

Since I knew that Dad never would take the time to fill out such a thing, much less stuff it in an envelope and put it in the mail, I thought I'd do the NRSC a favor and fill out the survey. Admittedly, the results probably don't represent the Republicans in our district very well, but I figure that with Republicans in most state-wide offices, a majority in House, Senate and Supreme Court, and controlling the White House, they were represented much better than I in all important respects. Thus I rationalize having my views represented in the Republican Party and breaking laws against mail interference and misrepresentation.

Whoever reads it likely will be puzzled by what a person who agrees with more taxes, no additional tax cuts, and more humanitarian aid to foreign countries -- and disagrees with the ban on partial birth abortion, a ban on therapeutic (non-reproductive) cloning and the GOP's interpretation of Second Amendment rights -- is doing in the Republican Party.

If enough impudent liberals get their hands on these surveys [2], the GOP would have to recognize another kamikaze constituency along with the Log Cabin folks: the Democratic Republicans. Such a state of affairs seems far more likely to "throw them off their game," or at least make them worry about the loss of some $500-level donors if they continue down their current road, than some weirdos dancing in the street [3].

[1] Out of curiosity, what are the Republican-rich zones of Manhattan? My first reaction was to assume that it would be Tiffany's and other places where wealthy people might congregate, but that doesn't necessarily seem true, as NYC liberals are about as likely to be rich as NYC conservatives. Of course, what Barlow assumes is that there are sufficiently significant differences in the lifestyle and tourist preferences of Republicans and Democrats that people from one party would congregate in places where people from the other party would not.

Though the majority of my friends trend liberal, particularly on social issues, one could not distinguish between the Democrats and Republicans based on their preferred hangouts. Did Barlow get his idea of Republican zones from having to change his venues after switching parties? and doesn't this sound like something from Sex and the City? ("I had to ask myself: was Manhattan politically segregated territory?")

[2] If you lack access to a Republican donor's mail, but would have been able to participate in Barlow's plan, might I suggest an alternative that likely would have a more useful and effective influence on conservatives? Find a person of the same sex and roughly the same age. Take your child, or borrow a friend's, and go to these Republican rich zones. Stroll around presenting yourselves as a family: discussing the child's education, friends or extracurricular activities, making plans for y'all's next vacation, etc., while being affectionate but not demonstrative with your "partner."

If the Republicans in town take notice, perhaps it will assuage some lingering belief that same-sex unions are actually intended to legalize child molestation, or that gay couples are incapable of the parental impulses that straight people harbor. These ideas -- phobias, in their ignorant remove from reality -- are a far more problematic aspect of Republican puritanism than is any dislike of random dancing.

[3] What bothers me most about Barlow's idea is that it purports to return joy to revolution, yet the whole goal of it is not to encourage community and creativity in Our Side, but to spread discomfort and fear among the Other Side. Everyone in this country is sufficiently paranoid, about dark-skinned passengers and politicized announcements and media biases, without being troubled by each others' terpsichorean outbreaks.

August 7, 2004 04:27 AM | TrackBack

I have to admit, this Republican's reaction would be, "Well, we knew the Democrats were nuts. Now we get to find out if they're good dancers." :)

May I advise that with your version of a similar plan, you choose a child too young to talk? Besides all the other impediments one faces when trying to 'convince' someone with a lie, it would be awfully embarassing when little Heather blurts out to the person you're purporting to influence that in fact neither of the women accompanying her are her mommy.

Posted by: A. Rickey at August 7, 2004 05:23 AM

""perhaps it will assuage some lingering belief that same-sex unions are actually intended to legalize child molestation"

To be fair, Republicans (and conservatives in general) didn't just pull that idea out of the air - there are SOME groups (SOME, not even close to all) for whom that actually is their goal.

NAAMBLA, for instance. I'm not saying that it makes it OK to tar everyone with that brush, but the logical argument (that it could be done that way) is certainly there, since there are some groups are using that strategy. Obviously, they think it might work, too.

Posted by: Deoxy at August 9, 2004 03:38 PM

Are you telling me that NAMBLA is out there fighting for the right of their members to get married? Considering that NAMBLA is focused on rape, I seriously doubt that marriage is an interest for them, what with 10 year old boys' being unable to get married to men or women.

The problem with NAMBLA is not that it endorses sex between people of the same sex, but that it endorses (statutory) rape, which is illegal regardless of the sex of the victim.

How seriously do conservatives currently take the claims of 1970s racists that legalizing interracial marriage would lead to an onslaught of black men raping white women? Not at all, I assume, because it's obviously ridiculous that legalizing consensual relations between adults inevitably leads to legalizing forced sex. It is equally ridiculous that it would lead to the coercion of children by adults.

Actually, one of the things that astonished me most about Michael Savage's remarks was that he apparently has no concern for the sexual molestation of girls -- which statistically is far more likely than that of boys.

Posted by: PG at August 10, 2004 02:51 PM
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