Friday, April 11, 2014

Why Brandon Eich Matters

Just an addendum to the last post: it's important to understand the real context for all of this, which is the Roberts court's evisceration of campaign finance regulation. When there are no rules, the only possible accountability is public pressure. NOM understood that, and that's why they tried to keep their donor list secret in the Maine campaign.

And this is why the wingnuts have gone to Defcon Eleventy on this: de-legitimizing (liberal) public pressure is necessary to complete the work already done by the five partisan Republican justices. Their freakout about Eich is of a piece with their hissy fit over Reid calling out the Koch brothers.

And this is why it's important to us. No, Eich isn't a Koch--he didn't donate all that much money. But he is--was--a CEO. And despite all the concern-trolling from Sullivan and little Conor, the fact that a CEO was held accountable for his contributions makes this a crucial victory.


Victor said...

That poor, poor guy.

I'm sure that when he was named CEO, he had visions of taking that company down the shitter, and getting a nice golden parachute worth somewhere in the mid 8-figures.

Yastreblyansky said...

I can't find any actual information, but everybody including The Economist seems to agree that he must have gotten a pretty decent severance package even though he only spent ten days on the job.

aimai said...

Very good point, Tom. Since the Donalde showed up in comments, however, I have to point out that a lot of people with some pretty unpleasant views may also take this to heart and worry that public opinion might force them out of their jobs. Absent strong tenure protections, of course. And since they oppose tenure protections for workers generally, and for academics whose viewpoints are not staunchly to the right of society, they don't have much of a moral leg to stand on.

In a functioning democracy the people need to be able to protect themselves from the money power of the few (the Eichs and the CEOs) while also respecting the power of the mob and trying to leave a space for individual difference and controversial belief. But Eich crossed the line from private belief to public action and he crossed it by trying to create a more illiberal and bigoted public space, he crossed his personal beliefs with other people's real lives and did real damage. If bystanders and fellow citizens don't have a right to criticize such actions they have lost a more important political right than Eich's right to give money to an unpopular cause.

The New York Crank said...

While I celebrate the fate of Eich, I am not completely ready to let President Obama off the hook either, on this matter or others.

The truth is, he did not initially take a moral stand on marriage equality. At best, you could characterize his initial stance as waffling. At best. And his moral backbone seems less than ramrod straight when it comes to a range of matters, among them the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners stuck in limbo, waterboarding, ICE enforcement, and more.

Yes, politics is the art of the possible. But there's a difference between embracing every possibility and sweeping less possible causes under the rug.

I don't mean to belittle the pressures on the presidency, and President Obama has certainly done well in comparison to what we could be seeing if, say, Romney were in the Oval Office.

All the same, one wishes that "good enough" weren't good enough for the American people.

Yours crankily,
The New York Crank

aimai said...

I don't think President Obama, or anyone else, has to take the same stance that I do on Gay Marriage--he kept his personal beliefs out of the political realm as long as was practicable and then changed his personal beliefs to suit the new reality. I actually prefer that to 1) insisting on a right wing reading of the bible and 2) a pushing of sectarian moral beliefs into the public sphere through policy and 3) sticking to outdated beliefs out of some kind of crazed purity a la huckabee.

Also given what we now know about how conservative vs. liberal thinkers think about stuff I think Obama knew very well that his swinging behind a policy change might well have pushed certain conservative thinkers into an even more reactionary stance. When he said he "evolved" on the topic I think he was using his bully pulpit in a very psychologically thoughtful way--giving people who were themselves evolving and changing a way to think about what they were doing that was less fraught and combative than they were used to.

I really think the Presidency is, of all offices, one of the most complex to use to wage moral battles about major social change. I think, despite the fact that I wouldn't have done it that way, he made a reasonable choice under the circumstances.

Dark Avenger said...

Hitler learns of Eichs resignation