The State of Our Democracy

Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, sent me an e-mail message yesterday. In order to close the gap with the Republicans, he says, the Democratic National Committee needs to raise another 35 million dollars this month. I can help the cause at all levels across the country by donating $3.00 (or more, of course.) In order to make this more convenient for me, he provides an active link in the body of the message.

Given the economic and political horror show that we’ve been subjected to in the past four years, and the Democratic Party’s collusion in much of it, I find it hard to imagine a more concise or more contemptible example of the cynicism of our political classes than this letter. Patrick Gaspard is clearly beyond irony, beyond shame, beyond, it seems, the reach of historical process. All he appears to know is that This Is What It Takes. All I know is that he isn’t getting my three bucks.

William —

Our fundraising numbers from June are in. Along with President Obama’s campaign, we raised $71 million, making this month our biggest yet. That’s something to be proud of.

But we still got beat. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party raised more than $106 million — making it the second month in a row that they outraised us, this time by $35 million.

That’s a big gap. And if we don’t do everything we can to close it now, we risk losing more than just a fundraising race in November

Donate $3 or more today to close the gap.

Donations from Democrats like you are directly helping us at all levels across the country.

Over the last three months, your donations have helped us:

— Continue to open field offices in all 50 states, including our 30th field office in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
— Hold nationwide voter registration drives and register hundreds of thousands of people.
— Organize the National Youth Summit, which gave more than 1,000 young people the tools to organize in neighborhoods and on their college campuses.
— Run a four-day, six-state “Romney Economics: The Middle Class Under the Bus” tour highlighting Romney’s failed economic record and vision — which received an astounding amount of local press coverage, showing that exposing Romney’s record is working.

We’re working hard to make sure Democratic candidates win in November, but we’ve got an uphill battle if Romney and the Republicans continue to outraise us at such a pace. While Mitt Romney and the Republicans rely on mostly big donors to fund their campaigns, in June alone, more than 700,000 donors stepped up to support the DNC and Obama campaign.

We’ve got to do everything we can to put a stop to the Republican momentum — so donate $3 or whatever you can to close the gap. It can’t wait another day:



Patrick Gaspard
Executive Director
Democratic National Committee


Contributions or gifts to Obama Victory Fund 2012 are not tax deductible.

The first $5,000 of a contribution to OVF 2012 will be allocated to Obama for America (with the first $2,500 designated for the primary election, and the next $2,500 for the general election). The next $30,800 of a contribution will be allocated to the Democratic National Committee. Any additional amounts from a contributor will be divided among the State Democratic Party Committees as follows, up to $10,000 per committee and subject to the biennial aggregate limits: FL (17%); OH (16%); PA (13%); CO (11%); NC (11%); VA (11%); NV (6%); WI (6%); IA (5%); and NH (4%). A contributor may designate his or her contribution for a particular participant. The allocation formula above may change if following it would result in an excessive contribution. Contributions will be used in connection with a Federal election.

Democratic National Committee, 430 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington DC 20003


The Democratic Deficit in Europe — Another View

From Dani Rodrik’s Europe’s Next Nightmare in Project Syndicate:

The challenge is to develop a new political narrative emphasizing national interests and values without overtones of nativism and xenophobia. If centrist elites do not prove themselves up to the task, those of the far right will gladly fill the vacuum, minus the moderation.

That is why outgoing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou had the right idea with his aborted call for a referendum. That move was a belated attempt to recognize the primacy of domestic politics, even if investors viewed it, in the words of a Financial Times editor, as “playing with fire.” Scrapping the referendum simply postpones the day of reckoning and raises the ultimate costs to be paid by Greece’s new leadership.

A more moderately-worded view of Europe’s delusions. Then again, Rodrik doesn’t need to shriek — he isn’t looking directly down into the abyss. He’s over here on this side of the Atlantic, where we have our own problems with democracy. There are many pathways to the legitimacy conferred on a government by the consent of the governed. Europe can’t seem to find any of them, while we seem to have given up looking. Given that modern history hasn’t tolerated either form of benign neglect for very long, there doesn’t seem much point in preferring one over the other.

Not a Fool, but a Democrat

Today, in the Süddeutsche Zeitung online, an editorial by Heribert Prantly which makes, among others, the following point:

In der Spitzenpolitik wurde dieses Referendum diskutiert, als habe Premier Papandreou vorgeschlagen, die Demokratie in seinem Land durch ein russisches Roulette zu ersetzen – und als gelte es daher, dem Premier die Waffe wieder aus der Hand zu winden; das hat man denn auch getan. Dabei hatte Papandreou nichts anderes versucht, als die Demokratie in ihr Recht zu setzen: unzulänglich sicherlich, undiplomatisch, ohne zuvor an Angela Merkel und Nicolas Sarkozy wenigstens eine SMS geschickt zu haben.

Er hätte sein Vorhaben früher ankündigen, es besser vorbereiten, es hätte Teil des Euro-Rettungspakets sein müssen. Aber auch mit der falschen Verpackung und falsch dargereicht bleibt eine Medizin eine Medizin; man muss sie besser einsetzen, zur richtigen Zeit und in richtiger Dosierung. Eine Volksabstimmung ist kein Allheilmittel, sie ist aber auch kein Gift. Wer in einer Demokratie das Volk, den Demos, befragen will, ist zunächst einmal kein Narr, sondern ein Demokrat.

Or, as I translate it:

In senior political circles, this referendum was discussed as though Premier Papandreou had proposed replacing democracy in his country with Russian roulette, and as though it would therefore be appropriate to wrest the weapon out of his hands, which was in fact what was done. But in acting as he did, Papandreou had sought to do no more than give democracy its due — inadequately, to be sure, undiplomatically, and without having so much as sent Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy an SMS beforehand.

He should have announced his plan earlier, prepared it better, it ought to have been part of the Euro rescue package. But even in the wrong wrapper, and improperly administered, a medicine remains a medicine. One need only introduce it more properly, at the right time, and in the right dosage. A plebiscite is no cure-all, but neither is it a poison. In a democracy, he who wants to submit a question to the people, the demos, is first and foremost not a fool, but a democrat.

I agree completely, and can only add that it never ceases to amaze me how thoroughly people who consider themselves the intellectual and moral elite of their respective countries, the custodians of our modern, post-industrial civilization, discount this simple truth. Poke them a little, and none of them actually believes in democracy. That’s their right, I suppose, and no doubt they have their reasons, but I’d have more respect for them if they didn’t expend so much energy trying to convince me otherwise.