I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU. At least in principle. In practice, I never actually take the card with me, and it took me some time to find it just now.
Anyway, I’ve lately been getting mass mailings calling Congressional Democrats sheep. The bone of contention is, I believe, that Pelosi and Reid caved on the military commissions act. The solution, according to the ACLU, is to run ads in their districts calling them sheep. Because, as we all know, shrill ACLU ads will never backfire and make their targets look independent, emboldening them instead of weakening them. After all, the ACLU is a powerful, well-respected organization that the Democrats will never want to get on the wrong side on, because one word from it and millions of moderates will switch sides in the election.
In my head I call this the bloggers’ fallacy: if you scream loudly enough, you’ll shift discourse to your side. Bloggers didn’t invent it and aren’t its most obnoxious practitioners, but it’s from them that I’ve learned about it. The same bloggers tend to hate the living guts of single-issue organizations like the ACLU because they don’t toe the Democratic Party line, but they apparently have a lot in common.
(I’m a solution-oriented person. What I think is the most productive when it comes to civil liberties is to target socially liberal, economically conservative Independents. Right now those voters tend to be fairly law and order-oriented, their social liberalism showing mostly on abortion and gay rights, but they also tend to appreciate competence very much. It’s not that hard to link authoritarianism to incompetence by pointing to Bush as a prime example, and by linking the national security state to radical ideologies such as Dominionism. The important bit is to acquire the ability to tell the Democrats, “If you screw us on civil liberties, there are three million voters who won’t see a difference between you and the Republicans on social issues and vote Republican based on their economic interests.”)