Skip to comments.How to waste $80 million (liberal "think" group)
Posted on 08/18/2005 11:10:46 PM PDT by Lando Lincoln
"At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades."
This is the opening sentence of a most interesting article written by reporter Thomas Edsall and published last week (August 7) in The Washington Post. The $80 or more million so raised in this effort will be channelled through something called the Democracy Alliance, the brainchild of Rob Stein, a Democratic party strategist and self described "venture capitalist" who has made a careful study of the conservative network of research institutes and advocacy groups. This network, in his opinion, has been greatly responsible for the success of Republican candidates and conservative initiatives in recent decades. He concludes that Democrats and liberals can be just as successful if they can only build a parallel network. The logic is sound, but the premise may be faulty: because the conservatives did it, it does not follow that the liberals can do it, too. But this objection is perhaps irrelevant right now.
The results of last year's election, and the continuing erosion of Democratic strength in the Congress and in many state governments around the country, has convinced Stein and these wealthy donors that the time has come to try something a little different -- and perhaps a little desperate. George Soros and friends spent as much as $100 million or more last year trying to defeat George Bush, but once the votes were counted, there was not much left to show for the expenditure of all that money. It now appears (according to the article) that two of the key Soros-funded groups -- the Media Fund and America Coming Together -- are in financial distress, and may not even survive much longer. Soros, however, has assumed only a "modest role" in the new Democracy Alliance.
Stein and his associates are fairly hard-headed in their assessment of the reasons behind the failure of Democrats and liberals to develop attractive ideas and proposals. Liberal groups, they say correctly, are organized mainly to protect an agenda that was enacted by Democratic majorities stretching back to the 1930s. They might have added that they are organized also around a few important Supreme Court decisions, primarily dealing with abortion and affirmative action. In any case, such a posture has made them reactive and reactionary rather than forward looking. As a consequence, they have not adjusted to new political and economic circumstances.
This is, as noted, correct as far as it goes, except that it does not go very far in diagnosing what ails the liberals. They should remember, as many Americans do, that liberals had an opportunity to enact their agenda in the 1960s and 1970s, and almost wrecked the nation in the process. It was conservatives and Republicans who rescued the economy, won the Cold War, and saved the cities from crime, stagnation, and welfarism. The liberals, because they controlled the television networks and the news media in general, along with the universities, concluded that they were in a position to dictate terms to their fellow citizens, and did not need to persuade anyone with facts, evidence, and argument. Thus the typical liberal approach to any situation was to issue demands or to file a lawsuit -- approaches that dispensed with the need to persuade anyone that their ideas were best for the nation. The rise of alternative television networks and newspapers has now rendered these tactics hopelessly ineffective. Now no one (except unfortunate college students) is required to pay any attention at all to the liberals. And most do not.
New thinking may be required, but there is precious little evidence in this article that such thinking is in fact underway. Mr. Stein and his colleagues have outlined a thoughtful strategy, but have not said what they seek to accomplish. They have presented a road map but have not identified any destination. Nor have they identified any dead ends that they will now abandon. They will find out soon enough that their main difficulty is not so much the absence of new ideas but the real presence of powerful constituent groups that refuse to adjust their goals or allow new groups to take their place.
Mr. Stein must be a very persuasive fellow to have convinced all these donors to ante up $1 million apiece for this initiative. It would be a most difficult task to emulate this achievement on the conservative side. Still, one has a sense that he has pulled a fast one on these wealthy liberals. He claims that conservative groups outspend progressive groups by some $295 million per year to just $75 million, a disparity that is not even remotely close to the real facts of the situation. For example, in a recent year the following liberal and progressive groups spent the following sums:
· The American Civil Liberties Union, $60 million;And this listing only scratches the surface, as it does not include such groups as the Urban League, the Sierra Club, National Organization for Women, National Abortion Rights Action League, Alliance for Justice, the Environmental Defense Fund, La Raza, and others too numerous to mention or even to count. Nor does it include the various university programs designed to propagandize in favor of the progressive agenda. By any reasonable measure, progressive groups outspend conservative groups on an annual basis by a factor of at least 10 to 1.
· The Urban Institute, $80 million;
· the Natural Resources Defense Council, $55 million;
· World Wildlife Fund, $118 million;
· the NAACP, $40 million.
Such facts will naturally cause liberals to wonder why so little has been achieved over the years by the expenditure of so much money. Conservatives might also feel a sense of alarm over such a disparity and also over the fact that so much new money is available to fund liberal initiatives. While conservatives may have more potent ideas and may spend their money more efficiently, they ought not to feel any sense of complacency. They, too, will have to continue their investment in ideas if they are to stay ahead in this intensely competitive game.
It would not, in fact, be all that difficult to tell the liberals what they need to do to regain the initiative in political debates and to regain a measure of popular support sufficient to win national elections. Such advice could be summarized in a few short paragraphs at a cost far less than $80 million. One might, indeed, be tempted to offer it for the good of the country. But on the other hand, maybe not.
It helps when you actually have an argument supported by more than emotional whining. Liberals don't. Unfortunately, 50% of the country buys into emotional whining. I'll let the reader decide which 50%
Do you want to know how to make a small fortune? Start with a large one and vote democrat.
Its the liberal way... throw money at a "problem"... However much of the funding is from the federal gov't..
What are they talking about? Conservative infrastructure?
Geez, I could've sworn the Conservatives were the ones without the infrastructure.
Yep, this is the latest liberal scam. I am reminded of the dog food story. First class company, lots of money, the best ingredients, super ad campaign, all for naught because the damn old dogs just wouldn't eat it.
When are the liberals going to learn that the American people just don't like what they are selling.
This is absurd. I can't believe that 80 millionaires could be so stupid. What in the hell are the liberals going to do once they rent the building?
This is the only part of the column that falls down. "Alternative television networks and newspapers"?? Certainly 24-hour cable TV news (Fox News, Cspan) has been critical, but Rush Limbaugh (talk radio) and the internet MUST be mentioned here.
Ideas that make sense to normal, traditional American families.
That's the "conservative infrastructure".
Last I heard, the Democrats were "trying to figure out what our core values are" (Senator Barak Obama) and hiring a professional linguistics dude to teach them how to lie better. The Democrats have also decided that they need to swallow hard and learn to fake the religion thing.
The liberal program writ large since the sixties has been a disaster. But liberals don't think that. They think they've had huge successes culminating with the Clinton years who of course enacted a number of successful laws that were originated by conservatives (welfare reform, tax reform) ...because The Great Fornicator knew that liberalism is bunk but couldn't admit it for obvious reasons. They think the only reason their programs aren't more successful is because stingy conservatives cut the money supply or killed their "successful" programs. Even after liberal program after liberal program was proven to be a disaster, they still believe in liberalism. Results don't matter to libs, only intentions.
Think tank? I'd call it a sewage treatment facility.
Ah... I've a term for that, "The Conspiracy of the Common Sense", which is why the Right Wing appears to have a Vast Conspiracy...
Welfare reform was signed by Clinton (even if it was watered down), but "tax reform"? Not during Clinton. The only thing we got from Clinton (who was elected in part on his lie to support "middle class tax cuts") was the largest tax hike in history.
It was Dubya who came along and cut taxes. That's why tax revenues to the federal government are now soaring, the deficit is coming down fast, and the economy is chugging along better than ever.
Apparently he did sign some kind of reform bill that allowed home sellers to not be taxed up to 500 grand on profits from selling their homes. Market analysts said that that has played a large part in the housing boom. Even Sean Hannity and a few other conservatives on NRO have mentioned that. I don't give Clinton much credit for too many things, but we have to give credit where credit is due. His biggest failures were in the areas of national security as is being currently proved. He was lucky in Bosnia, but that didn't involve national security. Ultimately Clinton was the luckiest and shrewdest pol I've ever seen. But his overall grade is in the minus category even if we disregard the Lewinsky scandal.