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Friday, August 29, 2003

Sexist, anti-democratic MoveOn.org nears $1 million goal for "Defend Democracy in Texas" ad campaign

MoveOn.org's logoThe trademarked graphic for MoveOn.org is subtitled "Democracy in Action."

As its "Current Campaign," MoveOn.org now has its "Defend Democracy in Texas" program — to raise $1 million for an ad campaign to support the Truant Texas Dems™ — at the very top of its website's homepage.  This in turn links to a page with the familiar text entry fields for your MasterCard or Visa number — along with a bar graph which reveals that MoveOn's "progress thus far" toward their $1 million goal is "98.77 percent funded" as of the moment I'm posting this.

Besides being overtly sexist, however, their website demonstrates that the folks at MoveOn.org — if they really want to have anything to do with "Democracy in Action" — ought to spend some of that $1 million to buy a clue as to what constitutes small-d "democracy"!

Here's the homepage teaser designed to take you back to the page with the field for your credit card info:

Impeachment. The 2000 Election. The California Recall. The pattern is becoming clear:   there's a group of men in power who will do anything to consolidate that power, including undermining our democratic institutions. We've got to fight back. In Texas, they are fighting back. And while the world is focusing on the California mess, they are fighting alone. They need our help.

A partisan plan pushed by Karl Rove and Tom Delay [sic] will redistrict up to 7 Democrats out of Congress. Right now, 11 Democratic State Senators are hiding across state lines — with the Texas Governor calling for their arrest — to prevent this illegitimate plan from being strong-armed into law. They have put their reputations and careers on the line for all of us. Please help us launch a hard-hitting ad campaign to fight back in Texas.

(Emphasis added.)   It's not quite as dramatic as watching the numbers climb on a Jerry Lewis Telethon, but there probably will be some folks in Albuquerque punching their browser "reload" buttons on the page with the bar graph all weekend.  Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos and Sen. Eliot Shapleigh only raised $4200 at a fundraiser in Colorado on Thursday.  A Reuters report in the Houston Chronicle quotes MoveOn.org's "organizing director," Zack Exley, as saying that the "Defend Democracy in Texas" program is "the single biggest fund-raising campaign we have done on a single issue."  (Hat-tip to Votelaw for the link.)

Maybe if they get to $1 million, MoveOn.org can afford to fix the sentence fragment at the end of their bullet point list in the "letter" from Sen. Rodney Ellis that I Fisked on August 22nd.

But rather more seriously, does it strike anyone else as Orwellian when a campaign designed to thwart a majority-rule legislative vote is described as a campaign to "defend democracy"?  Or when the holding of a majority-rule legislative vote is described as "strong-arm[ing]" a plan into law?  Or that simply trying to achieve a Senate quorum — specifically for the purpose of discharging the responsibility for Congressional redistricting that the United States Constitution assigns to the democratically elected state legislative and executive branches, rather than to a panel of unelected federal judges — is described as "undermining our democratic institutions"?

Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Addison)As for the "group of men who will do anything to consolidate that power":   Does it occur to the folks at MoveOn that there were a few women among the millions of Texas voters who in the 2002 elections gave the Republicans their first majorities in both chambers of the Texas Legislature since Reconstruction and denied the Democrats every one of Texas' 29 state-wide offices? 

And doesn't MoveOn.org owe an apology to Republican Texas Senators Jane Nelson and Florence Shapiro for implying that the votes they would cast on behalf of their constituents — votes favoring redistricting — somehow don't count? 

Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Grapevine)Senator Nelson happens to represent my older brother, a white male Republican orthodontist, a conservative born-again Christian who plays tennis pretty well.  He and my sister-in-law Shelli have raised three beautiful kids in the affluent suburbs mid-way between Dallas and Fort Worth, one of those places where Texas' population has just boomed since the 1990 census.  I know he's anathema to MoveOn.org, and it to him, but — well, he does pay his taxes, quite a bit more than I do, in fact, and even though we disagree sometimes, he and Shelli do agree with me and Sen. Nelson on the need for redistricting.  He'd like to see a little bit of small-d democracy on his behalf, notwithstanding all those disabilities.  Is it really unfair for him to expect that the State Senator who he helped elect will at least get a chance to cast a vote on this issue?

While they're at it, shouldn't MoveOn also apologize to the nineteen women serving as Republican State Reps — Betty Brown, Carter Casteel, Myra Crownover, Diane Delisi, Mary Denny, Peggy Hamric, Linda Harper-Brown, Suzanne Hupp, Elizabeth Jones, Lois Kolkhorst, Jodie Laubenberg, Geannie Morrison, Anna Mowery, Elvira Rayna, Debbie Riddle, Vicki Truitt, Arlene Wohlgemuth, Martha Wong, and Beverly Wooley?  Those are women whose votes for redistricting have also been thwarted by the House and Senate Democrats who've fled from Texas this summer for the sole purpose of protecting gerrymandered districts that are rigged to keep in office several white male incumbent Democratic Congressmen.

Rep. Martha Wong (R-Houston)I was one of the 53.1 percent of the voters — 24,524 people in State Representative District 134 — who elected former Houston City Councilwoman Martha Wong as a rookie to the Texas House in 2002.  She voted for redistricting.  Are she and her entire constituency part of the "group of men who will do anything to consolidate [their] power"? 

Or does Martha Wong — and do I and 24,523 other voters in District 134 — just not count at all when MoveOn.org defines small-d "democracy"?  Is this the "disenfranchisement of minorities" about which the Truant Texas Dems™ are prattling on?

Meanwhile, in the US House of Representatives, I'm represented by a white male Democrat, Rep. Chris Bell.  Rookie Bell succeeded Ken Bentsen, another Democrat, with 55 percent of the vote in 2002, and he's one of the white male incumbent Democrats whose seat was protected by the 2001 Balderas panel of judges, but now may be at risk in redistricting.  I guess he's one of Leticia's children, too, but all things considered, I'd be glad to see him lose his gerrymandered-to-stay-Democratic district.

I've said before, and I repeat, that this is indeed a fight about democracy.  It's just that MoveOn.org and the Truant Texas Dems™ are on the side against democracy.

Posted by Beldar at 10:22 PM in Texas Redistricting | Permalink


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