The fruits of Eric Cantor’s new “YouCut” project made it to the House floor last week, with results entirely predictable: nothing passed, and it did so amid great partisan kerfluffle. But according to the House Minority Whip’s office, some 280,000 people voted online or via text on the particular measure they’d like to see deleted from the federal budget, in what Cantor’s new media guy described as “the most direct use of technology to establish a more direct democracy in the history of the federal legislature.” Mission accomplished? Not quite.
Leaving aside the question of whether or not we settle the federal budget via popular vote in this country (if you like direct democracy, you’re going to LOVE California), something’s rotten at the core of YouCut. Of course the language involved in describing the various programs YouCut participants vote to “kill” is slanted (just about any government program taken out of context can be made to sound ridiculous), but that’s politics. And yes, it’s a naked attempt to get the emails and cell numbers of Tea Partiers and their fellow travelers, but again, list-building via online activism is an internet classic. I’m talking about something more fundamental: YouCut is dishonest, the cynical act of a leadership that’s put the scoring of short-term political points ahead of developing a coherent plan to govern.