Yesterday, I took part in a press conference call to announce the New Politics Insitute
-- an NDN think tank focused on winning elections, not policy.
Amongst the founding participants -- Simon Rosenberg, of course, Joe Trippi, Andy and Deborah Rappaport (the third largest donors to the Democratic Party), SEIU's Andy Stern, pollster Mark Penn and others.
This is a quote pulled into the Hill's story on the event:
Zuniga was dismissive of the existing progressive thinks tanks' capacity to change the debate or influence elections in the Democrats' favor. "Policy think tanks are pretty useless," he said, without naming any in particular.
"All the great policy white papers aren't going to do any good," he added. NPI will be focused on "building a Democratic Party that is focused on winning."
Aside from the fact that my last name is "Moulitsas" and not "Zuniga", I was not "dismissive" of existing progressive think tanks. They have their role and are key components to the rise of the VLWC. However, what I said is that all the policy papers in the world won't do us any good unless we can figure out ways to actually win elections. Republicans have a machinery in place focusing on using technology and other tools to win elections in addition to their policy think tanks, we don't. That's a hole the NPI aims to fill, annd it will.
Contrast that hideous Hill passage from the much-better accounting from the obviously much-better reporter at the National Journal's Technology Daily (subscription only).
The goal, said NPI principals, is not policymaking, but victory
at the voting booth. "Until we get together and start winning
elections, all the policy white papers won't do much good,"
I include that article in the extended entry.
This is going to be an exciting project, yet another cog in the growing VLWC.
Copyright 2005 National Journal Group, Inc.
National Journal's Technology Daily
May 10, 2005 Tuesday
New Democrat Think Tank Looks For Solutions
By Randy Barrett
Progressive Democrats launched a new think tank Tuesday focused on re-examining political media tools and marketing methods to help the party win future campaigns.
The New Politics Institute (NPI) is sponsored by the New Democrat Network and funded by a grant from liberal philanthropists Andy and Deborah Rappaport. Its staff includes Joe Trippi, who served as campaign manager to 2004 Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean, as well as left-leaning blogger Markos Moulitsas and NPI President Simon Rosenberg. Its budget is about $1.5 million for the year.
"We are facing a new and more dynamic political battlefield," Rosenberg said in a statement. "NPI has been established to help progressives of all stripes master the challenges of 21st century politics."
A central focus of the group will be discovering and developing new campaign media technologies because Rosenberg said he believes traditional broadcast strategy has broken down. "That model is no longer going to be applicable to the 21st century," he said.
The inclusion in the group of Moulitsas, who operates the popular Web log, or blog, The Daily Kos, and Trippi, who pioneered the use of blogging during Dean's failed bid for the Democratic presidential nod, hints at the importance the Internet will play in the group's efforts.
"It's right there, smack center," Trippi said.
During a teleconference, the new think tank's organizers acknowledged that Republicans outflanked Democrats in the use of the Internet during the 2004 presidential campaign. "We woke up the giant on the other side to a new medium," said Trippi.
They also conceded that Republicans have been historically better at grasping new campaign technologies going back to direct mail in the 1970s. The GOP now has an impressive beach head in cable TV, radio and the Sunday talk shows.
Now the challenge is to learn from the enemy who was hungry and ingenious during its roughly 60 years out of power, Rosenberg said. "They developed more in their DNA an obsession with new technology," he said.
Moulitsas bemoaned the lost opportunity during the 2004 election. "The Internet was completely neglected by the Kerry campaign," he said, referring to 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. "It's a medium that played to our strengths. We didn't need to concede it to the Republicans."
The new think tank also will examine the historic rise of the conservative movement and what it means for progressives as well as demographic and other population trends that are creating a new political landscape in the United States.
The goal, said NPI principals, is not policymaking, but victory at the voting booth. "Until we get together and start winning elections, all the policy white papers won't do much good," Moulitsas said.