IPPA has become increasingly concerned about the inability of the federal government to efficiently and effectively address our country’s severe economic, social and environmental problems. It is our belief that almost all progressive policy proposals intended to address these problems are met with obstruction in Congress as a direct result of one party’s rigid ideology and close-mindedness. We believe this can only be overcome through electing new members of congress who will be willing to compromise on our country’s important issues for the common good. This is our best hope to insure our country’s future.
One of the fine things about the United States is that since its founding, both the legal structure and the popular culture have approved some forms of the competition of ideas, speech, and action. Our assumption has been that the best solutions to problems emerge from the interaction of ideas and from the citizens’ learning from the interchange. This spirit has been strengthened by the fact that most scientific inquiry is social, involving many people. Note the number of author’s on the first page of a scientific journal paper. Authority is shared and not located in a single source. Open criticism is key, as the inquiry unfolds.
A foreign enemy of this approach is the Communist Party of China, which is Leninist in form. Leninism assumes that senior Party officials have knowledge that trumps the ideas and policy proposals of citizens and of the law courts. Dissent may be permitted in controlled situations, but when the Party speaks, at the local and central level, that is supposed to be the end of discussion. Equivocation, deviation, and dissent are dangerous. Tens of thousands of popular uprisings in China each year attest to the fact that many dissenters  do not agree with the Party’s positions.
Now our own culture is threatened by Leninists in Republican dress. Grover Norquist’s  Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. It pressures candidates for congressional office to take a “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” If they do not, ATR attacks their candidacy and stirs up voters to do so. The pledge is that the candidate will “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” By November, 2011, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 47 Senate Republicans had signed the pledge.  Senate Majority leader Harry Reid describes Congressional Republicans as “being led like puppets by Grover Norquist.” Hence note the failure of the Deficit Reduction Joint Select Committee. Norquist is the Party voice, and it trumps individual opinion and discussion.  And further damages hopes for our economy to recover.
Not only is economic policy being captured by these single minded Leninists. The same is true for the Republicans’ position on women’s reproductive health. The Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List is their attempt to squash a variety of positions on the Life/Choice debate. To gain their support and avoid being attacked by the SBA List, candidates should sign the Pro-Life Citizen’s Pledge. In addition to pledging support for vague restrictions on the appointment of federal judges and for the requirement that those selected for Federal Cabinet and Executive Branch positions be pro-life, there is a third item in the pledge. A candidate is to agree to “…defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions.” Again, the Party can see to it that open discussion ends if a candidate wants its support. The citizens lose the chance to learn from the debate.
Our use of “Leninism” accurately identifies a practice that, in matters of key national policies, the Republican Party shares with the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party and the departed Soviet one.  This stifling of multiple voices damages our democracy.


  1. -kf Says:

    May I offer this lecture (link below) to consider as an addition to this discussion?

    This is Dr. Jessica Tuchman Mathews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, talks about the challenges facing America at home and abroad. November, 2010. I believe that she spoke at The Ford School on the UM campus.

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