Why the sudden interest in state and local politics on the part of national activists such as [George] Soros? An article by Jim Holt which appeared in The New York Times Magazine of November 11, 2004 provides an explanation. With Democrat power waning in Washington, many on the left have despaired of imposing their radical agenda from the top down. They seek instead to radicalize America from the bottom up, gaining power city by city, county by county and state by state, in a relentless, political ground war. “The more conservatives succeed in reducing the the size and scope of the federal government, the more fiscal freedom the blue states will have to pursue their own idea of a just society,” writes Holt.
Much as Governor George Wallace defied the federal government’s orders to segregate Alabama schools in 1963, the left now seeks to establish itself in state houses and county seats across the nation, from which it can safely thumb its nose at federal policies it dislikes. ACORN and its Working Families Party are leading this new movement. WFP expanded into Connecticut in 2004, and promises that it will soon set up shop in all ten states where “fusion voting” – that is, cross-endorsement of candidates by multiple parties – is legal. Those states include Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.
George Soros and his Shadow Party are keen proponents of the bottom-up strategy. They have selected New York State as a laboratory for their experiment. “New York is a state that has more Democrats than Republicans,” Soros spokesman Michael Vachon explained to The New York Sun. “If we can’t gain a foothold here, how can we expect to win on the national level?”
On August 16, 2005, Soros’s Open Society Institute helped launch a new organization called the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN). OSI’s partners in the project include the Soros-funded think tank Center for American Progress, the Soros-funded activist group MoveOn, as well a number of unions, including the AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME and United Steelworkers. Led by Democrat activists David Sirota and Steve Doherty, its purported mission is to seed state legislatures with pre-written, “model” legislation reflecting their leftist goals. However, Soros’s involvement with the group makes it highly unlikely that PLAN will restrict its activities to conventional lobbying. If New York offers any clue to the tactics Soros plans to employ in his state-by-state activism, we must anticipate that the Progressive Legislative Action Network will be turning up soon in more radical contexts.
In the November 2001 city elections, a coalition of far-left politicians led by the Working Families Party won a controlling, veto-proof majority on the New York City Council. ACORN thus gained effective political control over New York City. It accomplished this power grab through careful planning and timing. In 1993, New Yorkers voted in a referendum to restrict local elected officials to two consecutive terms. The new term limits came due in November 2001, at which time a majority of City Council members were forced to step down. This was the moment for which the Working Families Party had been waiting. The City Council was up for grabs.
In the electoral putsch that followed, thirty-eight new members took their seats in the City Council. This gave the radical newcomers a veto-proof majority. As Steven Malanga notes in the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, “Almost a third of the winners ran with endorsements from the extremist Working Families Party… More than 60 percent of the new councilmen had backgrounds in government, social services, or community activism…”
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