Saturday, August 07, 2004

Beholden to No One

The response to our trashing of Keyes is typical of a quite common logical error. Keyes is "beholden to nobody"--that's another way of saying that he has no followers, no constituency. He's one guy, a fax machine and a loud mouth. Sadly, our media culture allows people like him to become well-known figures despite the fact that he has never organized any sort of actual support among the American people themselves. He is the reductio ad absurdum of what Theda Skocpol has called "associations without members." I'd respect him more if he did the hard work of actually proving that his voice speaks for an organized, mobilized constituency. But he hasn't--so why, exactly, should we take him seriously? He's lost two Senate races, and is about to lose a third--in a democracy, that's how we decide whether someone is a significant figure. The market test has been set, and he's failed. Repeatedly.

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