How the Infiltrators become the Infiltrated

A story in the Chicago Reader relates how the Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization was effectively hijacked by Democratic Party operatives, but it also demonstrates the power of even small scale independent political organizing:
On December 29, a group of north-side members of the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization gathered to endorse attorney Dan Farley as their candidate in the upcoming Democratic primary for 11th District state representative. This was a coup for Farley, a first-time office seeker. North-side candidates covet the group's stamp of approval, which gives them an aura of machine-fighting progressivism popular with voters.

The joke of it all is that there was hardly a real independent in the room that night. In fact, leading the charge for independence was none other than 47th Ward alderman Eugene Schulter, one of Mayor Daley's most loyal north-side City Council allies . . . Schulter didn't have to establish a record of independence to engineer Farley's backing from the IVI-IPO. He just got members of his Democratic ward organization to take it over . . .

Across the city many of the rank-and-file IVI-IPO members are willing to speak up against Daley and his initiatives. It was the IVI-IPO, for instance, that filed suit against the city and state over the parking meter deal, claiming it was illegal. The group has also called for a moratorium on new TIF districts. But they have to figure out a better way to protect their organization from invasion by party regulars . . .

There are about 700 IVI-IPO members citywide, according to Elder—hardly a force that can contend with powerful ward organizations that have more members, more money, and more clout. As a result, the group's endorsement typically doesn't make any difference in races featuring an entrenched incumbent. But in a tight race the IVI-IPO endorsement can tilt the scales, especially on the north side, where politicians, even the regulars, are obligated to at least pretend they have an independent streak. [Emphasis added.]

This is a perfect example of how an organization aimed at reforming the Democratic and Republican Parties from the outside can be transformed into a tool of the duopolist order. The infiltrators become the infiltrated.

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