Apropos of our discussion about membership and sustaining progressive support, here’s an example of the corruption of that process, and how worthiness of support can get conflated with how well you regurgitate talking points:
The Democracy Alliance, a private network of major progressive and Democratic donors, has dropped a number of prominent organizations, according to people familiar with the group’s decision […]
Among those who support the creation of a progressive infrastructure, there is heavy debate over whether to fund organizations closely aligned with the Democratic Party or those that operating outside it and pressuring it to move in a more progressive direction.
The groups dropped by the Democracy Alliance tend to be those that work outside the party’s structure. Groups with closer ties to the party, such as the Center for American Progress and Media Matters, retained their status with the Democracy Alliance as favored organizations.
The decision to drop certain groups was delivered to those affected last week. Among the ones axed are Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation; the Civic Engagement Lab, which funds James Rucker’s Color of Change; Melanie Sloan’s Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (known as CREW); Third Way; the Center for Progressive Leadership; the Advancement Project; Democracia; Free Press and Simon Rosenberg’s NDN, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Groups working on issues relating directly to people of color appear to be the most dramatically affected.
A little backstory here. The Democracy Alliance came about as a way to replicate the culture of donating to movement infrastructure on the right. Through a roundabout process, members of the Democracy Alliance come together to hear presentations and support different progressive organizations.
You can see that this has proceeded in the precise opposite way as it has for Republicans. Conservative bigwigs obviously donate to a lot of electoral causes. But groups like the Koch Brothers, the Bradleys, the Scaifes and others always make room for what we colloquially call “wingnut welfare.” Those are the ideological think tanks, the conservative media outlets, the thought matrix that constantly generates conservative ideas and pushes them into the mainstream. Here, the money is being drained from the similar progressive organizations that do that work, and being channeled almost wholly to party-building organizations or groups that support that objective. CAP is a think tank, but it’s also closely allied with the Administration. The outside groups have been pushed to the side.
So this starves funding for actual ideas, the building blocks of any political movement. As Brave New Films’ Robert Greenwald said, “It’s tragic that Democracy Alliance is cutting back on the spectrum of what’s being funded at the very time that the Koch brothers and others have made clear how necessary it is to have a broad range of funding [for] different progressive organizations and institutions.” What’s more, BNF, Color of Change and the other groups losing funding have actually been successful at some level. There isn’t a Glenn Beck Show on Fox News right now largely due to the efforts of Color of Change.
I would argue that de-funding outside groups has been uniquely unhelpful to the progressive movement over the past few years. So here they go again.