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Tuesday, 15 August 2006 01:54

Lincoln Chafee: Supporting Him is a Fool's Errand for Progressive Advocacy Groups

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August 15, 2006


A short time ago, BuzzFlash posted an editorial about how suicidal it is for progressive advocacy groups to insist on self-righteously supporting faux Republican "moderates" like Lincoln Chafee.

As we pointed out, Chafee is not really a moderate because his presence in the Senate enables a Republican majority that ensures the goals of the progressive advocacy groups who support him will not be achieved.

The latest poll in Rhode Island shows that Chafee has lost 12 points against his likely Democratic opponent, Sheldon Whitehouse. The dimwitted Rhode Island GOP Senator has gone from being six points ahead of the Democrat to being six points behind him in one of the latest polls. In short, rather than endorsing a Democrat who might win and pick up a seat to help the Democrats take control of the Senate, some progressive advocacy groups are sticking with the Potemkin "moderate" Republican Chafee.

What’s more, Chafee may yet get knocked out of the race by a challenge from a radical authoritarian Republican in the late Rhode Island September 12th primary. (Whitehouse – what a name! – has only nominal opposition on the Democratic primary side.) And Chafee has been pandering to the right wing of the party in Rhode Island in order to squeeze through the primary!

So why are groups like the Sierra Club and Naral continuing to support Chafee, a Republican pawn of the Busheviks in the most Democratic of states?

We’d suggest follow the money.

Advocacy groups need contributions from wealthy "moderate" Republicans, so they need to show that they will support a Republican now and then, even if is counterproductive to achieving the mission of the groups.

It's not a question of abandoning their "bi-partisan principles" if they were to oppose Chafee. To the contrary, they are abandoning their principles BY supporting him. They are just using a fig leaf of "bi-partisanship" to justify appealing to Republican "moderates," mostly women, who give money to the organizations.

Let’s offer a bit of an example here:

Let’s say that I am a "moderate" Republican Senator. I could vote for every woman to have a right to an abortion, but then if my party appoints judges and attorney generals whose histories and common sense say are going to overrule laws allowing abortion, then I don’t deserve the support of pro-choice groups, because I am just putting on the appearance of supporting choice, while helping the Republican Party dismantle Roe v. Wade through the judicial system.

What's more, if the national pro-choice organization knew that my party vigorously opposed abortion, that pro-choice legislation would never get passed as long as my party was in power, and that -- as we noted -- my party puts judges on the bench who will strike down pro-choice legislation, don’t YOU think that the pro-choice organizations should support the guy from the other party, the one who actually and really supports pro-choice and whose party will appoint pro-choice judges?

Isn’t that just common sense if you want to be true to your mission, which is why your members send you contributions to support your pro-choice advocacy?

Let's put it another way. All things considered, does supporting Chafee or supporting the likely Democratic candidate from Rhode Island advance the interests of the Sierra Club and Naral as far as deliverables for their missions?

Anyone who answers Chafee is deluded.

So if they are not making endorsements based on advancing their missions, why even make endorsements? Why not just take the money from all sides and stop pretending that they are really interested in advancing their policy interests?

We’ll close with an e-mail we received from one of our readers:

The sentiments expressed in the Krugman column "Centrism is for Suckers" and the BuzzFlash Editorial on the subject, match what I have been saying for years to Elizabeth Gehl, the national political director of one of my organizations, the Business and Professional Women.

Year after year, I have screamed bloody murder when they have endorsed the likes of Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Lincoln Chafee, as well as numerous Republican candidates for the House. When I objected to these endorsements, the response was, "They support legislation that we support."

I pointed out that this legislation would never get to the floor for a vote as long as the Republicans held a majority in the House and Senate, to which I never get a reply. I also pointed out that the Senate Republicans whom BPW were endorsing voted for the confirmation of each and every rightwing Neanderthal partisan hack extremist judicial nominee for LIFETIME appointments to the federal judiciary and Supreme Court, and that BPW, along with every other major women's organization, had fought those confirmations, so why were they endorsing those Republicans?

Again, no response.

I sent her the Krugman column today, and told her to substitute "BPW" for the Sierra Club and Naral.

Joann Olbrich

We’ll let Joann have the last word.