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Building progressive infrastructure

DCblogger's picture
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An important announcement from Dave Johnson:

Donating a dollar to a progressive infrastructure organization like Speak Out California and Commonweal Institute today is like giving ten dollars to EACH progressive candidate in every local, state and nation race this November, two years later, and every election following.

Let me explain what I mean. Progressive infrastructure organizations like Speak Out California and Commonweal Institute are working to help the public understand and appreciate what progressives are about. By explaining the benefits of a progressive approach they help build public acceptance of and demand for progressive policies and candidates -- across the board. As more people understand why progressive solutions benefit them more than conservative proposals, they develop a lasting positive identification with the progressive "brand." Then later, during the election cycle, they vote for progressive candidates -- across the board.

This is how the conservatives have been so successful. They work year-round to convince people to identify as conservatives. (You've probably complained or heard people complain that that have managed to turn "liberal" into a bad word in people's minds.) When election time comes around it's as though all that their candidates have to do is point at the opponent and shout "liberal" to win. They ride a wave of nationally-advanced propaganda convincing people to support "tort reform" or "tax relief." This has been going on for years, so at election time everything is laid out for them on a silver platter, with the public prepared and primed.

Progressive candidates, on the other hand, are generally on their own, starting from scratch for each election. Their general campaign begins in the late summer or fall, they have to decide what "issues" to run on, they have to develop a message from scratch, by themselves, and then they have to reach their voters from scratch. And they have to do all of this on their own in just a few months. No wonder conservatives, even with their awful "you're on your own" philosophy, have managed to do so well and gain so much traction.

This is why building up a national progressive advocacy infrastructure would leverage all of those campaign donations and help us build a sustainable progressive majority. A few dollars to progressive advocacy organizations on any given TODAY builds long-term support for every progressive candidate on any given TOMORROW. It provides leverage -- lowering the need for massive election-cycle funding.

The people who support The Commonweal Institute and/or feed the Corrente Wire hamsters are my personal heroes. Right now Democratic candidates are out fundraising Republicans at every level. Yet the lefty organizers who did so much to shift the debate are living hand to mouth. That isn't right and it isn't good for our country, so three cheers for anyone who tried to do something about it.

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shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

I was going to post on this. Great Minds, DCb...

And you are exactly right. Bloggers are a big part of Progressive Infrastructure. Imagine if a tiny percentage of the millions of dollars raised by the Dem candidates had gone to funding an ideological infrastructure.

You can quote me: "every time you donate to a blogger you love, a beltway media consultant sheds a tear".

One of the Dem candidates will lose. All the money they spent on media consultants and media buys will evaporate and will have contributed nothing to long term solutions.

The winning candidate, even if they are your fave, is not a savior and will not be able to do anything in the face of the still unchallenged Conservative Ideological Infrastructure juggernaut.

Here are a couple of passages from the announcement that show the scope of the problem:

The Rockridge Institute was formed to address a set of challenges: The right-wing think tanks, after spending 35 years and 4 billion dollars, had come to dominate public debate.
...

The Progressive Funding Problem: The 1997 Covington Report [Sally Covington, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations] observed that conservative foundations tend to give large, multi-year block grants to promote conservatism in general. By contrast, progressive foundations tend to give small grants for a short time over a short list of specific issue areas. This results in small nonprofits having to constantly spend a lot of time and effort raising money, and all too often failing to raise enough.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

All the money they spent on media consultants and media buys will evaporate and will have contributed nothing to long term solutions.

Most of those energized by the campaign will volunteer for the general and millions of new voters have been added to the rolls. So a losing campaign is not a waste.

But in this most Democratic of years, your favorite blogger would be a better choice.

shystee's picture
Submitted by shystee on

But new and energized voters only really contribute to the electoral effort as opposed to the ideological/infrastructure effort.

What happens after the election and their fave candidate lets them down? Will they become disillusioned and drop out?

I would also argue that investing in infrastructure has a much, much higher return as far as policy outcomes compared to investing in elections.

BTW: I have some contacts at the Commonweal Institute. Email me: shystee AT earthlink DOT net for more info.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I would also argue that investing in infrastructure has a much, much higher return as far as policy outcomes compared to investing in elections.

I would say a much higher rate of return. Think of all the effort we put into the 2006 elections, and we won, and what did we get?