The influence of George Orwell’s “1984” has become legendary. Indeed, his very name has become an adjective — “Orwellian” has become an entire concept in and of itself.
Wikipedia gives a good summary of the meaning of Orwellian. I’m going to focus on two parts of that.
The encouragement of “doublethink,” whereby the population must learn to embrace inconsistent concepts without dissent, e.g. giving up liberty for freedom.
To me, this is a fair representation of Senator Obama’s political stances. He goes beyond flip-flopping; he comes down on at least two sides of several issues. He supports the District of Columbia’s attempts to ban handguns, but he also supports the Supreme Court’s striking down those measures as unconstitutional. He opposes NAFTA, but he favors it as well. He lauds the success of the surge strategy in Iraq, but says he’d still vote against it. If you think that Jerusalem should remain in Israeli hands, he’s your guy. If you want it as a capitol for the Palestinians, then he’s with you, too. And if you want it divided, he’s on your side as well.
Far, far more important than that, though, (as fun as it is), is this part of the definition of Orwellian:
The political manipulation of language, by obfuscation, e.g. WAR IS PEACE. Using language to obfuscate meaning or to reduce and eliminate ideas and their meanings that are deemed dangerous to its authority.
And thus we find that the biggest enemy of democracy in the United States comes from staunch supporters of the Democratic Party.
Being weighed in Congress right now is the disgustingly-misnamed “Employee Free Choice Act,” an attempt to change the way unions are organized. One provision — the most noxious — is the stripping of workers debating whether to unionize their right to hold a secret ballot.
OK, that’s a bit too general. What it does is allow for an alternate approach, a substitute for a secret ballot election. Instead, union organizers can simply collect signed pledge cards from a majority of the workers, and the secret ballot is bypassed. Of course, there are provisions to minimize intimidation (and we all know that unions would NEVER do anything as crass as intimidate people), but I can’t conceive of any sort of provision that would be as intimidation-proof as a secret ballot.
The secret ballot is the cornerstone of democracy. It utterly guts the power of those who would want to win by force. They can threaten and promise and cajole and intimidate all they want, but once the voter goes into that ballot booth, they are utterly free to vote their conscience, without the slightest fear of retaliation. It is crucial. It is essential.
And it is about to be denied to workers who are considering whether or not to join a union.
The other big threat going on right now is from an organization headed up by longtime Democratic activist Tom Matzzie. Matzzie has decided that the biggest threat to our electoral process is Republican soft money and advocacy groups, so he’s rounded up a bunch of Democratic soft money and started his own advocacy group that is threatening to investigate and harass and cause legal and personal problems for those who give money to Republican and conservative causes.
(By the way, I offered a reward for anyone who could give me some good dirt on Mr. Matzzie. One kind reader, my fellow New Hampshirite Raven, offered to donate to increase my reward fund tenfold. I’m going to have to refuse her kind offer; taking outside funding for this would simply complicate matters too much. But my thanks, Raven. Feel free to start your own “dirt fund,” though.)
Now, this is where the regular detractors here will cite several efforts on the right to achieve their goals through similar thuggish methods. That’s a fair cop. But that overlooks that the Republicans don’t call themselves “the Democratic Party.”
“Democrat” has two meanings. As a proper, capitalized noun, it means, simply, “a member of the Democratic party.” But when it’s a lower-case “d,” though, it means considerably more:
1. an advocate of democracy.
2. a person who believes in the political or social equality of all people.
Someone should remind the leaders of the Democratic Party just where they got their name from, and get them back in touch with their roots. With just these two examples, we see that there is a serious danger to democracy from within the party that uses its name.