It’s a common observation that organizations, after a while, develop a life and inertia of their own. People tend to get together for a common purpose — but once that purpose has been achieved, it’s hard to let go and let the organization expire.
There are several groups today that fit that description quite thoroughly. In each case, their initial goal was to address a particular problem. And in each case, the utter elimination of that problem was never a realistic goal — no, what they intended was to change the public mindset about that problem. And in each case, they succeeded.
And then they had to figure out what the hell to do with themselves next. They started out with a goal, and formed a group to reach that goal. Now they’re a group in need of a new goal.
The first one that came to mind is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. When they started up, driving while intoxicated was seen as a fairly trivial matter. Hell, it was a stock comic situation — someone falling-down drunk getting behind the wheel and careering off into the night, sometimes making it home and sometimes ending up in some humorous crash.
(Yes, it really was that way. Take my word for it — I’m just barely old enough to remember those days.)
They succeeded. Now, drunk drivers are considered marginally above child molesters in the public’s eye. After any particularly heinous case, there are plenty of calls for even more draconian penalties. And lawmakers, eager to not appear “soft” on drunk drivers, often let themselves get caught up in the frenzy.
(Mind you, I’m NOT complaining about this. I’m just noting it as a sign of MADD’s success.)
With that, you’d think MADD would declare victory and go home. But apparently, when you get a bunch of mothers together to protect us from ourselves, they just can’t turn it off. Now they’ve moved on to new goals — the elimination of alcohol on Amtrak trains for passengers, mandatory seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws, ever-lowering legal definitions of intoxication, and so on.
Thanks, but no thanks. Go back to your own children, moms. Most of us are grown-ups, and can make our own decisions.
Then theres MoveOn. They’re a bunch of liberal activists (way, way liberal activists — “moonbats” wouldn’t be unkind) who got together in reaction to the Clinton impeachment. They wanted to get the whole country to “MoveOn” after his acquittal and address more important concerns.
Hey, MoveOn! Clinton was acquitted about a dozen years ago. We’ve had three presidential elections since that did NOT feature William Jefferson Clinton on the ballot. He’s been out of public office for nigh on a decade now. We’ve MovedOn. Why the hell can’t you?
How about the March of Dimes? (Thanks for this example, Wild Willie. I remembered your comment from 2007.) Originally, they were raising money for polio — research into treatment and prevention, as well as treatment for the victims.
And damn, they pulled it off. The March of Dimes was founded in 1938, and in 1955 the polio vaccine was announced. The practical extermination of the disease is taking a bit longer, but most of the world is rid of it.
So, what to do next? The heads of the March of Dimes decided they ought to keep doing good, so they widened their focus to the problems of newborns in general — birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality in general.
How about the NAACP? The whole focus of the civil rights movement was not to eliminate racism — let’s be honest, we’ll always have racism and racists. That’s a fundamental aspect of human nature. It ain’t gonna change — we’ll always find ways to exclude other people, resent them, fear them, and try to exploit and oppress them.
No, what the civil rights movement was about was changing society’s attitude towards racism. It was to not only eliminate the legal protections racial discrimination, but to fundamentally change the way such things were perceived.
And they succeeded. Succeeded wildly. The casual racism of previous generations, once tolerated and dismissed, is now absolutely intolerable. As recently as the 1970s, I personally witnessed it — a drunken guy praising Dionne Warwick as “a pretty good singer, for a darkie” and a then-elderly man (I think he was in his 70’s) cussing at his TV whenever a “jigaboo” won on “The Price Is Right.”
That sort of thing would get you ostracized these days. Oh, you won’t get in trouble with the law, but losing friends, jobs, even careers are all entirely likely. (See Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, Shirley Sherrod, and the like.)
Oh, there’s still plenty of racism and social injustice, but what is indisputable is that the social climate has fundamentally changed in that area — and considerably for the better.
It’s now gotten to the point where race activists have to resort to finding evidence of racism through “code words” and statistics. It’s reminiscent of how astronomers look for black holes not by their presence, but inferring it from the effects it has on objects in its proximity.
But considerably less scientific, of course.
The March of Dimes is a great example of what happens when an organization achieves its goals. They recognized the power to achieve good they had harnessed, and simply redirected it towards another, broader goal.
MoveOn.org, as much as I hate to admit it, hasn’t done too bad, either. They remained united as a liberal coalition (after all, even frothing moonbats need companionship) and remain a potent force among the loony left. And it’s quite convenient to have them around, especially when they pull shit like the “General Betray Us” ad, when we got to see their usual coterie of congressional courtesans hem and haw about distancing themselves without alienating the nuts, and it exposed the New York Times’ partisan hackery when it turned out they’d given MoveOn a huge discount on the ad — to the point where it would have counted as a contribution.
On the other hand, MADD and the NAACP need to learn a lesson I learned a long, long time ago in the retail world: “don’t sell past the close.”
In the world of sales, that means once the customer says yes, don’t keep pushing. At that point, you’ve won — any more persuading can only cost you the sale.
Folks, you won your initial struggle. Now all you can do is keep people focused on the issue, and possibly reconsider whether they were right to buy your message.
In the case of MADD, there’s a growing backlash. I’m a former member of SADD (the student version), and I’m fed up with the meddling busybodies. In the case of the NAACP, they’ve chosen to enter the political fray — and they’re getting their asses handed to them because the people they’re choosing to oppose and attack have learned to not fear the NAACP’s most potent weapon (hell, being called a “RAAAAACIST” is rapidly becoming a badge of honor), and don’t care to show the deference that the NAACP has grown accustomed to enjoying.
But dang, ain’t it grand entertainment?