In recent posts I have addressed two distinct issues: the attempt by the Democratic Party to use new technology to nationalize the urban-machine approach to party building mastered in Chicago during the 20th Century; and the coerced conformity at the root of the modern progressive view of society. Now I want to show how these issues collided to help create the IRS scandal now plaguing the Obama Administration.
I want to start with a not-so-obvious proposition: the real scandal is not the mistreatment of conservative groups by the IRS—that was just a necessary by-product of the abuse of power, and the abuse of the tax laws, by this administration.
Instead, the real scandal is how the same abuse of power and law has been used to facilitate and perpetuate the database from both of Obama’s presidential campaigns for future use by the Democratic Party to identify and mobilize voters for their candidates. What I am referring to is Organizing for Action, which is now a 501(c)4, tax-exempt “social welfare” organization.
Let’s recap what Organizing for Action really is—it is a website that gathers and sorts into a master database information from the contacts it obtains from its followers, which is then used to contact, identify and mobilize voters for Democratic candidates and the causes they support, and to solicit funds to support those candidates and causes. As I recently quoted from an article in Salon, the database started during Obama’s 2008 campaign as “MyBarackObama, an interface for campaign supporters to create online identities, connect with other supporters and publicize their campaign activity.” The website address was “my.barackobama.com,” and the email addresses for contacting the site or a campaign operative was “[email protected].” As the Salon article went on to state, “[s]hortly after Obama took office, Democratic planners moved the MyBarackObama listserv and online community into the apparatus of the Democratic National Committee, converting it into Organizing for America.” After being maintained by the DNC until the 2012 presidential election cycle, the same “listserv and online community” using the same email address became part of the Obama re-election campaign, known as Obama for America. Then, after Election Day, November 6, 2012, this “listserv and online community” using the same email addresses used since the 2008 campaign, morphed yet again.
By January 18, 2013, what started out as MyBarackObama, then became Organizing for America, then became Obama for America, and had now become Organizing for Action, a 501(c)4, tax-exempt “social welfare” organization. That’s right … within just 73 days after the election, the application to convert Obama’s campaign database into a tax-exempt “social welfare” organization to shelter its future donors from disclosure had been prepared for, submitted to, and approved by the IRS—that same group that could not figure out how to “provide good customer service” and evaluate the Tea Party applications since 2009. The political importance to the Democratic Party of maintaining Obama’s database in this fashion cannot be underemphasized. In a revealing interview from February of this year, Congresswoman Maxine Waters described the future political importance of this database as follows:
… I think some people are missing something here. The president has put in place an organization that contains the kind of database that no one has ever seen before in life. That’s going to be very, very powerful, and … that database will have information about everything on every individual in ways that it’s never been done before. And whoever runs for president on the Democratic ticket has to deal with that. They’re going to have to go down with that database and the concerns of those people, because they can’t get around it. And he’s been very smart. I mean it’s very powerful what he’s leaving in place, and I think that’s what any Democratic candidate is going to have to deal with.
So, the Obama IRS facilitated the use of “social welfare” status by Obama’s Chicago-based campaign apparatus to maintain its database for use by the Democratic Party in perpetuity without ever having to disclose its donors in the future. If Obama’s campaign apparatus is a “social welfare” organization, then we have a more serious problem with the IRS, and this administration, than just a biased enforcement against conservative groups—it is the biased use of government power to benefit one set of political views and one political movement, while using that same power to suppress the opposing political view or movement.
Welcome to the way of Chicago politics, now playing nationally.
The flip-side of the coin of expanding the block-to-block organizational approach of the Chicago machine to national Democratic Party efforts through groups like Organizing for Action (and Battleground Texas), is the raw use of governmental power by such a political machine to protect itself and suppress its opposition—you don’t get one without the other. This adaptation of raw machine political power to the administration of our national government is the real scandal that is surfacing.
How did this happen?
I believe the Obama administration’s abuse of the IRS tax emption process was caused by the collision of at least four variables that had to exist to create this scandal. First, Obama’s political campaign and administration attracted people who believe in the liberal orthodoxy of the benign and beneficial role of an expanded national government in domestic affairs—what I earlier called the “Magical Kingdom” model of government. Second, the expansion of the national government these people started to implement exposed the natural limits of the liberal orthodoxy—the limits of individual and institutional competence, and the effect of the aggregation of power on human nature. Third, the exposed incompetence and avarice left the government vulnerable to those who would abuse power for their own gain. Finally, the Chicago political mindset does not tolerate, or even recognize the legitimacy of political opposition, and it uses political power to suppress its opposition and to win at all costs. When these forces collided within the Obama administration, the IRS tax exemption process was too irresistible a tool not to use—and abuse—to further their goals.
Now we are seeing an old tactic of machine politicians caught “with their hands in the cookie jar”: feign ignorance, blame incompetence, and designate a “fall guy,” in order to stop any further investigation of the real scandal—in this case, to stop any further investigation that might focus on the abuse of the IRS to shelter the maintenance and expansion of the database of the Obama campaign for use by the Democratic Party without public scrutiny in the future.
As the committee investigations and the media interviews unfold, remember the questions that probably won’t be asked and the real scandal that will be hovering like a cloud over Washington: Organizing for Action, and the Chicago-style misuse of governmental power. To preserve whatever is left of the integrity of our government, we must demand the right questions be asked, and that we get real answers to those questions.