The Republican attack machine has been on a relentless mission to destroy ACORN, short for the Association for Community Organization and Reform Now, ever since the 2008 election campaign when conservatives saw it as an effective fundraising and get-out-the-vote group for Democrats and then-candidate Barack Obama. Rabid, inflammatory-rhetoric-fueled charges of inappropriate and illegal conduct have been flying ever since, especially as videotapes have recently surfaced showing ACORN workers advising alleged pimps and prostitutes on how to conceal their criminal behavior during the home-buying process.
On Thursday the GOP got its wish, landing a big step closer to "Mission Accomplished," as House Democrats folded like a bunch of $2 lawn chairs and voted under intense Republican pressure to cut off federal funding to ACORN, which had received roughly $53-million over the last 15 years.
The intensely harsh criticism by the right of the community group heated up ever since its sting operation, in which conservatives posing as the cartoonishly-dressed, Huggy Bear-lookin' Mack Daddies and their ho's, walked into a couple of ACORN offices and sought help in buying houses to operate their brothels filled with under-aged hookers. Clearly, the ACORN workers' behavior, caught on tape, is despicable and worthy of discipline and perhaps prosecution. But it's also comical, since you'd think any idiot could've realized how staged this all seemed. Unfortunately, though, what it did do was give the GOP House and Senate thugs the smoking gun they needed to begin bringing down this important group.
It's important to note that what we're talking about here with these videotapes are two very isolated incidents of clear unethical and/or possible criminal behavior. Additionally, there's been a few cases nationally of ACORN workers illegally registering non-existent voters. But that's it. In comparison to all the good this organization does, the House's action Thursday, specifically the role played by the Democratic majority, is shameful.
According to its website, ACORN serves:
[L]ow-and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country. ... ACORN members across the country work to raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers. ... Our issue campaign victories have delivered approximately $15 billion in direct monetary benefits to our membership and constituency over the past 10 years. ... Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote.
In the above context, eliminating federal funding of this important grassroots organization seems unjustified and excessive, and is surely a spineless knee-jerk reaction to political pressure from the right, which seeks to undermine Democrats and the Obama administration at every turn. Which is why it's truly incredible that Democrats aided in this travesty.
But here's why Thursday's funding vote is most troublesome. Firstly, it says to all Democrats that they're still afflicted with the abused-wife syndrome where, no matter how much power voters give them, no matter how big a majority they have, they're still gonna allow Republicans to bully them into voting against their own self-interests. Can you imagine the GOP doing this five years ago when it controlled both Houses of Congress? To the contrary, Republican thugs back then did whatever it could to attain and retain power. When former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay didn't like the way voting had been going in certain parts of his home state Texas, he redrew the district lines which served to ensure future Republican victories. Would DeLay have ever joined with the minority party to cut off funding to an organization that supposedly benefited Republicans? My God, just what the fuck is wrong with Democrats these days?
Next, and most important, it provides further ammo to the 'community organizer Nazis' who denigrate this important function and relentlessly slander President Obama, America's most famous community organizer. The right will now use this vote to bolster their outlandish claims that Obama's got dangerous radical roots and philosophies. What it boils down to is this: what House Democrats essentially did this week was say, "Yes, Republicans, we agree with you that community organizers are sleazy, untrustworthy and radical, and therefore don't deserve taxpayer funding." That they could do this, now, to their party, their president and the issues that ACORN advocates and supports, is unconscionable.