the democratic mold: the american jewish conference of 1943
In characterizing the operations of American interest groups, David Truman develops the concept of the "democratic mold." By this term Truman reminds us that every organized interest must conform to the prevailing expectations and normative standards of the total society in which it operates, or else risk the opprobrium and opposition of the very public it seeks to influence. Specifically, organizations in American society are expected to act "democratically." This does not mean that oligarchical tendencies are absent in group life; it does aver that, at the very least, interest groups must pay lip service to "democratic ideals" and seek to accomplish their ends through the forms, language and processes associated with democracy.1
In this chapter, we shall carry the record of the decisive consolidation of American Jewish opinion behind the Zionist program one step further by studying a particularly striking example of Zionist utilization of democratic techniques -- elections, ballots, majority rule, representation, campaign platforms, resolutions, the appeal for unity, and the like -- for the attainment of their goals. The example chosen is the momentous American Jewish Conference of 1943.
It may be noted at the outset that Theodor Herzl, the founder and first leader of the political Zionist movement, was no novice at synthesizing the demands of the democratic mold with the exigencies of practical Zionist politics. As early as 1898, at the Second World Zionist Congress, Herzl made this oft-repeated statement of basic Zionist tactics which was almost equally applicable to the American Jewish community of the early 1940's: