Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Would We Want to Belong to a Club That Would Let Us Join?

I've been pondering a League of Democracies, which I've seen brought up again. Could we qualify?

I've both supported a League of Democracies as an alternative to the United Nations and then discarded the idea.

I'm pondering the idea again, but not as a substitute for the United Nations but as a club within it to make the UN less odious. I plan to post on it soon, I hope.

Not that this is some major foreign policy piece that I'm expending so much effort on. I'm "pondering" it, as I said.

I bring a League of Democracies up to explain linking to a piece about the state of democracy in Wisconsin that relates to my future post (tip to Instapundit):

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, [Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John] Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.

On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy” — explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

But Chisholm’s aim — to have a chilling effect on conservative speech — has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

Such misbehavior takes a toll on something that already is in short supply: belief in government’s legitimacy.

Do read it all. The mis-use of government offices to suppress political speech of opponents under the pretext of regulating speech should be an outrage to anyone who identifies as a "liberal." It should outrage anyone, of course. But liberals claim to be unique champions of freedom and civil rights. This behavior is an outrage.

This relates to a League of Democracies because I've considered it as a club working within the United Nations to improve it. For better or worse, we have the United Nations.

So a League of Democracies would need to have rigorous rules for who qualifies to join if it is to be a moral force within the UN. Voting is not enough as a qualifier. Russians and Iranians vote. Even North Koreans vote. They are not democracies.

We need to have rigorous rules to avoid granting powerful states membership in the hope that they will evolve to club standards, much as Russia was allowed into the G-7 of top economic powers.

The problem is, given what is going on in Wisconsin, could we qualify under whatever rules we might establish for an organization of true democracies with rule of law?