Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What To Do About the League of Women Voters?

The League of Women Voters, if it ever was a “non-partisan” organization, has made it abundantly clear that those days are over.  Their over-the-top advocacy against the Voter ID amendment this year has shredded any claim they may have had to being impartial.

At the same time, the League is deeply entrenched in our political process.  I happened to catch a bit of one of the 1980 presidential debates the other day, which was, incidentally, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.  While the League is now out of the Presidential debate business, in most parts of Minnesota, the League is the only organization that sponsors debates for state or local races.  I’ll be attending two LWV debates this week.

Several Republican candidates have refused to participate in LWV debates this year, as a protest of sorts against the League’s over-the-top behavior.  While I do understand where those candidates are coming from, one-off boycotts of LWV debates is a losing strategy.

While it’s clear that the LWV is a problem, the solution is not so clear.  As I see it, we have a few options on how to deal with the League going forward:

  1. Do nothing, continue to complain.  This is a stupid approach, but it’s the default and what we’ll end up doing if we don’t make a plan, so I thought I’d include it.

  2. Marginalize the LWV – Expose the League for who they really are.  Mock the League and call them the League of Liberal Women Voters.  Get all GOP candidates to boycott the debates and try to destroy the League’s influence in politics.  While this strategy may feel good, it would also take a ton of effort and organization and will ultimately fail.  Please name one example where the Right has been able to tear down an established institution on the Left and keep it down.  While you’re thinking about it, I’ll move on to #3.

  3. Build an alternative organization. Fill it with Conservatives and get them to sponsor debates and put out a voter’s guide to combat the liberal bias. Not a terrible idea, but again, it requires a ton of effort, organization, and fundraising.  It will also require time.  Remember, the League has been around since 1920.  They didn’t get where they are overnight.

  4. Infiltrate. Get conservative women to join the League, and change the organization from the inside.  And now we’re talking.  This, if it isn’t clear, is my humble proposal.  The League already has the partnerships and infrastructure in place to execute debates all across the state.  They have agreements with cable access channels to broadcast the debates.  They have a longstanding partnership with Target to print and distribute a voter’s guide.  And most importantly, they are going to do what they are going to do regardless of what we do.

I guess what I’m saying, in the simplest form, is- “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”  And I don’t think we can beat ‘em.  So what do you say, conservative women?  Will you join ‘em?