Minority NGOs Sellout to Clinton Democracy Bandwagon
Are we entering an age of authoritarian market democracy? In fact, the trend began shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2008. Commentators noted that he surrounded himself with neoconservative experts. According to Jane Hamsher, formerly of Firedoglake, campaign staffers were told they or their non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must conform or bow out. They were “kneecapped” or fired.
Obama’s disincentivization to keep New Deal style promises became an incentivization for increased market liberalization including among avowed liberals. This includes all segments: white, black, brown, indigenous, yellow
What takes place most often are forms of compromise. Either NGO leadership conformed or they were replaced or suffered political stigma. Many NGOs whose finances and political flex are minor in comparison with corporate conglomerates, have accepted compromises.
Diversity politics emergence for minority compromise
In the 60s and 70s many large feminist, hippie, and community of color groups converged on common issues, such as the Vietnam War. The seminal events unfolding about VW protests became the incubation tank for many future NGOs and think-tanks. A healthy middle-class, substantial manufacturing sector, along with labor unions, provided the perception of financial independence and class mobility.
These in turn supported grassroots NGOs that gradually branched out into environmental groups, ethnic rights groups, women’s rights advocates, and so on. Even in the 70s, liberal ideologies were generally closely aligned with one another. Whites were strongly supportive of civil rights, and blacks supported pro-choice for women.
However with the inception of free market democracy first under Reagan, then under Bush, and finally under Clinton, the meaning of democracy was reduced to consumer choice and political clout with regard to consumer spending potential. Pop culture assisted by underscoring the necessary transformation, lulling the unsuspecting public to sleep under slogans of generous market capital in exchange for manufacturing relocations.
With the growing presence of today’s standard mall conglomerations, and persistent advertisements everywhere, along with dance jingles and aerobic muscle-pumping stars, most of the public became convinced that the era of mass demonstrations and protests were a bygone. We had established the EPA, Sierra Club, unions, parks, clubs, and the toppling of the Berlin Wall.
Thus, NGOs were forced to become strident and overspecialized in order to attract public attention. This accompanied a narrowing on the issues, for minority groups, to specific goals and demands. For Asians, it became about demanding more representation with a focus on politics or Hollywood. Or else a focus on healthcare and educational opportunities. Recently it includes gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender rights. Depending on the group, a few might also demand rights on citizenship, housing, and immigration.
These issues supposedly transcend the national party platforms, although they tend to carry liberal undertones. Increasingly, however, the NGOs sell seats on boards and are forced to solicit corporate donors and conform with neoliberal expectations. After Citizens United, particularly as the middle class has continued to shrink, their funding is secured through indirect routes, and everything depends upon knowing which foundations they can tap.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that nearly all the minority NGOs folded early into the Clinton machine, with perhaps vague promises of support from the Clinton Foundation or other gifts in exchange for securing voter support. In fact, increasingly, NGOs are also soliciting multinational benefactors and sponsors such as Rockefeller Group, GE Capital, Coca-Cola, for conferences.
The road to minority compromise hotter than road to hell
The degree to which compromising actions are undertaken demonstrates top-down decision-making by the boards encouraging hidden subtexts. For instance, AAJA is holding its annual convention in Las Vegas in 2016. You have to gamble to win big, and therefore the capitalist gambling mecca is the destination. AALDEF held its annual dinner award gala a few months ago, perhaps hoping for gratuitous promises from the slate of pro-market pop-star dragoons. There is nothing like the corporate revolving door.
Most Asian organizations have come-out with prescriptive support for Hillary Clinton: she’s our woman because she is a woman with name-recognition. There was never any factual analysis or comparison provided on Senator Bernie Sanders even though he actually has decades of political experience, is more progressive, and polls indicate strong support among minorities.
The lurch to the right by much of the Democratic establishment also includes the venerated historically left-leaning Congressional Black Caucus.
According to Shadowproof, in the past, “the CBC often did genuinely serve a collective and conscientious role when it came to serving poorer Americans, particularly poorer Americans of color.”
Now that authority is being used by members of the CBC to cover for corrupt behavior and disguising a decidedly corporate Democrat as a“progressive.”
Among the sins listed are not just lots of possible funny money, but altering their support on bills meant to protect the American poor and middle class including resisting Dodd-Frank, going soft on bankruptcy, estate tax, and consumer protections meant to discourage predatory lending practices.
Bernie commentators even share the view that the Clintons and Obamas are not true Democrats at all but essentially moderate Republicans. Here is what one commentator, MG1, wrote in a discussion online at AmericaBlog:
Obama shut down his campaign organization, he knee-capped it so that it would not threaten his Wall Street agenda. He put it under the DNC so as to neuter it. Bernie will feed and grow his campaign into a permanent organization. Holding someone’s “feet to the fire” will take on new meaning under a President Sanders. Senators and Congress[persons] are used to operating without any public scrutiny. Those days would be over. But I will take a President Sanders any day over the same old neoliberal bullshit that Hillary represents. Hillary will consult her donors before promoting any policy, which, after being vetted by them, will be incremental at best. And no, she “won’t get things done.” What she gets done will be moving the country forward by inches, if that.
Sanders supporters contend that Hillary will only bring in advisors and cabinet members from “the same old corporate and bank shills that have infested the Obama administration and Bill Clinton’s administration.”
Citizen democracy requires suitable accountability
Why have minority NGOs ignored any possibility for voting outside the two-party duopoly except that they hope to convince their membership and constituencies that bandwagon-style leadership prevails over reason.
Another theory put forth by Gaius Publius at Americablog is that Democrats have lost their soul; inside the beltway national NGOs, desperate for attention, decided that lining up for photo-ops handshakes, and pats on the back were more important than confronting corruption, crime, election fraud, or the erosion of constitutional rights.
When telling the truth becomes unpopular, hiding the truth and lack of accountability results eventually in such magnitude that violent overthrow is necessary. This is why MK Gandhi wrote in Truth in Speech and Nonviolence:
To say or write a distasteful word is surely not violent especially when the speaker or writer believes it to be true…But if non-violence of thought is to be evolved in individuals or societies or nations, truth has to be told, however harsh or unpopular it may appear to be for the moment. —Harijan, December 19, 1936
The truth is that perceptive socio-political analysts recognize that diversity politics is being promoted to channel minority focus and energy away from the larger picture and reconstitute them in the context of “acceptable political action and opinion” ie. forms of controlled thought or censorship.
Distractions focused on slurs that have viral potential; celebrity trends; the latest in games and videos are condoned as contemporary culture rather than forms of Asian escapism. Thus while it may not seem like deliberate fragmentation of progressive liberalism, purposeful fragmented presentation allows for deception and insidious totalitarian control, according to German political science professor Rainer Mausfeld.
Diversity politics and recent devolution into transgender bathroom rights has been described by the Kaiser Report as “decadent.” Why should minorities be ascribed as unable to think or reason apart from blind adherence to leaders confining the dialectic formations to push-button politics for voting?
The 99% are losing out in this high stakes presidential election, and the reason, according to Common Dreams includes “absence of a movement.” This is the movement that was traditionally led by grassroots NGOs before they all mostly got bought out. Bernie Sanders meteoric rise against the odds will be recorded as remarkable in that this was a politician who not only was not subsidized by the billionaires, but inspired countless volunteers to worked tirelessly and for little to no pay in helping spread the word.
Common Dreams describes NGOs conversion into corporate thinkbots:
Looking out at the plethora of local and national groups pursuing greater economic equality, one sees mainly idealism and fragmentation. Some of it is caused by that dread phrase, 501 c3. Well-meaning foundations fall in love with the charismatic leader de jour, seem intent on creating yet another another grass roots group or coalition, and then that group needs to differentiate itself from rivals and dance to the foundation’s tune…The remedies that would restore economic opportunity and security to ordinary Americans are far outside mainstream political conversation, and will not become mainstream until forced onto the agenda by a genuine mass movement.
Arguably movements such as 350.org fighting against climate change have orchestrated significant impacts, including the 2014 People’s Climate March with marches around the globe. However, many of the leaders were actually part of faith-based organizations. That energy is hard to sustain without all liberal and minority NGOs on board, which they aren’t.
Increasingly, AAPIs and other minorities are joining mainstream NGOs in causes that more closely align with their interests and beliefs rather than rely on minority NGOs to issue supportive press releases or plan actions.
Time does not wait for people to change when the crisis is imminent. People will have to form spontaneous rainbow coalitions that don’t rely on insider-recognized establishment chains of command, acclaimed expertise, or ripe fortune; instead, they will adopt more survivalist approaches and methods, as had been the case in much of human history during its uncivilized stages.
[Reprinted from Asian-American Forum Spring-Summer 2016 Issue No. 26]