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By my title, I mean that we have to provide a way to protect, nurture, and support -- and I mean financial support -- progressive voices.  We have a few superstar bloggers, but I suspect that if lucky, they are making ends meet but not much more.

We are way behind the movement conservatives in this.  They started systematically establishing a support/recruiting network back in the seventies, and now have a very comprehensive network.  Hacks like Michelle Malkin, Bill Kristol, or Jonah Goldberg enjoy regular spots on TV, can always get their books published (no matter how stupid), and never have to worry about where their next paycheck is coming from.  We need to start working for a similar network.

It's well documented in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, as well as numerous other books and articles.  There is an organized conservative network that grooms and protects conservative spokesmen, so they can spend their time propagandizing, instead of worrying about making an honest living.  Just think of all of them -- in addition to the ones I named, there is a seemingly endless supply of conservative "pundits" who know little or nothing about the substantive issues, who aren't even good at arguing, but who nevertheless are always on TV, radio, quoted in papers and magazines, regularly get books and articles published, and even get appointed to government positions far above their level of competence when a Republican administration is in power.  This is not an accident.  There are many conservative institutions that employ and promote these people, so they can spread their absurd positions.  Think of a very partial list:  The Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, The National Review, the Washington Times, the American Spectator, Fox News, The Independent Women's Forum, the Club for Growth, Accuracy in Media, American Conservative Union, National Taxpayers Union, The Christian Coalition, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Federalist Society, Pacific Legal Foundation, Operation Rescue . . . The list could go on and on.

We have nothing comparable.  Yes, there are a few liberal or progressive organizations, but they don't have the funding these conservative groups do.  More important, for the most part they are not about building a movement -- they are formed to focus on various issues, prepare academic studies, etc.  The conservative groups go through the motions of the same types of activities, but their true focus is providing a congenial homes for conservative activists and Republican operatives.

I don't think we should emulate this entirely -- we are a reality based community and we wouldn't (and shouldn't) support baseless propaganda designed to sway  the gullible.  But we should try to create more of a safety net, so our movement can also have full-time spokesmen who become known to the public.  Right now we are fighting the battle with at least one hand tied behind our back.    

One obvious difficulty:  the right has wealthy backers willing to fund these organizations.  Well, we have some wealthy backers too (think George Soros), but we'll always be outgunned in that area.  But that's where the netroots can come.  We've been pretty successful raising money for progressive candidates (think Act Blue); why can't we transfer some of those skills to raising funds for movement building by supporting the future public faces of our movement?  Yes, this doesn't win the next election, but we need to start thinking in the long term.  

(The conservative are far better at this than we are; in fact, don't get me started, one of my biggest gripes with Obama and the Democrats -- and I believe an important factor in their current dismal electoral prospects -- is the failure to articulate a political/economic philosophy, and put our current circumstances in that historical/philosophical context; a subject for another diary.)

Join me in brainstorming this -- how can we start laying the groundwork for, and funding, progressive institutions and organizations that will allow our fellow progressives to make a decent living promoting our cause?  I'm certain it needs to be done, I'm just not quite sure how.  But that's why we have this community.  Ideas anyone?

Originally posted to RenMin on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:10 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

    by RenMin on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:10:22 PM PDT

  •  I like the idea -- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, RenMin

    though I don't really think we need "progressive" institutions per se.  There are "progressive" institutions already -- the Sierra Club comes to mind -- and they can be whipped into line behind Blue Dog Democrats when push comes to shove time and time again.

    What we need are post-capitalist institutions, institutions which will lay the ground for the society to come, after the capitalist system has stretched itself to the breaking point.

    "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:19:46 PM PDT

    •  The Sierra Club et al (0+ / 0-)

      Have a programmatic mission -- in their case, protecting the environment -- and though they may have interns, etc., do not provide a source of income/economic support to a group of progressives who can then make the case for progressive values and solutions to the public.

      I'm not sure we get very far talking about the "post-capitalist society".  If nothing else, capitalism has proven remarkably resilient.

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:24:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oil production (0+ / 0-)

        is "remarkably resilient" too, as is the industrial complex which depends upon 85 million bbls./day of it.

        So the oil will never run out?

        As for the capitalist system, it will come to an end when the capitalists have plundered the planet and its society so thoroughly that there is nothing left to plunder.

        Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it will never happen.

        "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

        by Cassiodorus on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:31:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A long time ago, I asked about this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, HeyMikey, ybruti, RenMin

    Back in the 1990s, before there were blogs, there were message boards.  Back then, I asked how come I couldn't get a job with a think tank.  Someone replied that I worked for the wrong side.

    Change TX-32, Change the Nation. Send Democrat Grier Raggio to Congress.

    by CoolOnion on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:26:30 PM PDT

  •  Well All the Rightwing Institutions Other Than (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenMin

    religion were set up by donors, with easy to find money because they advance the interests of big money.

    Until some rich left wingers take that step for our side I don't see that there's much comparable to talk about.

    Now in terms of activists & netroots, we already have several institutions don't we? Moveon.org for example; I'm not sure I see how it's not exactly what you're suggesting in the diary.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:37:02 PM PDT

    •  How Moveon is different: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CoolOnion, HeyMikey

      It doesn't provide a living for public intellectuals/spokesmen/operatives who can communnicate progressive values to the public at large through mass media outlets.

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:42:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think Sen. Bernie Sanders (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CoolOnion, RenMin, Sunspots
    had the best idea.

    Earlier this year, he said Progressives and liberals should have our own tv show(s) to compete with Fraud Newz.

    I don't know how that would be setup -- Air America on tv? -- but I think that would be so cool.

  •  Hi RenMin, just a little OT here (in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenMin

    middle of making dinner so haven't fully read this diary)

    I was looking for your comment from the other day about a DC meetup group after coming across this comment this afternoon:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    which talks about a potential future DC, N. Va, Md meetup and reads like there have been some in the past.

    Just thought you might like to connect with the poster!

    "Don't Bet Against Us" - President Barack Obama

    by MRA NY on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 06:24:47 PM PDT

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MRA NY

      "[W]e shall see the reign of witches pass over . . . and the people, recovering their true spirit, restore their government to its true principles." Jefferson

      by RenMin on Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 04:51:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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