A New Reason for Hope

Cody Hoesly

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that at least 80 wealthy liberals will invest at least $1 million each over the next 5 years to build a liberal political infrastructure to rival that of the conservatives.  The group, known as the Democracy Alliance, hopes eventually to raise at least $200 million.

This is good news.  Finally, the Left is beginning to wake up.  Forty years ago, the Right began investing in think tanks, advocacy groups, political education and outreach efforts, media outlets, etc., and today they have a propaganda machine that dwarfs liberal efforts.  As the Alliance's director estimates, conservatives spend $295 million each year on political infrastructure, while liberals spend only $75 million.

Further, the Alliance understands that the conservatives fund their political organizations in a superior manner.  They give large, lump-sum, largely uncontrolled payments to a few determined persons with big ideas, who want to make those ideas reality.  If results are positive, more money comes flowing in.  If not, the organization loses its leader or the money stops.  Liberals, on the other hand, give small amounts of money to a million organizations that often work on a smaller scale.  Liberal donors have tended to exercise great control over the use of their money.  As is apparent, the liberal scheme doesn't work.  Hopefully, the Alliance's investment will follow the Right's more successful model.

The Alliance's investment in America's future is a much- and long-needed response to the Right.  Indeed, it is the only way we can hope to succeed in the future.  Grassroots efforts and inspiring leaders still need a strong infrastructure to back them.  This is only the first step, but I'm glad we're making it.

Great as this news is, however, it is important that we here in Oregon not sit back and rely on these national leaders to build our future.  Not all think tanks are based in Washington, D.C.  The Right has several conservative think tanks right here in Oregon, including the Cascade Policy Institute, which fights land use laws.  The right has its own Oregon magazine, Brainstorm NW; its own Oregon Rush Limbaugh, Lars Larson; its own Oregon legal firm, O'Donnell & Clark LLP.

We must start our own liberal infrastructure at home.  Portland is attracting ever more bright, talented, eager progressives.  New political groups, such as the Bus Project and the Rural Caucus, are cropping up around the state.  Anyone who wants to start a think tank, or any other similar kind of group, here in Oregon should get cracking.  Local liberal donors should work with entrepreneurial progressives to create organizations that can compete with and defeat their conservative counterparts.

It will take a long time to catch up, but finally we have a new reason to hope.

  • T. Lee (unverified)

    Infrastructure is nothing without a positive message. If the liberal hate outweighs solid plans for the future... as in 2004... those millions spent will join Soros's millions in the dust bin.

  • Robert (unverified)

    Its unfortunately everyone thinks that Oregon has Lars when in reality WA has him, but he goes to great lengths to pass himself off as an Oregonian and that we would participate in a vote. What a fraud just like Right wing apparatus

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)

    Along with the Rural Caucus is the start of the Democratic GLBT Caucus. Their Annual Meeting will be on the 20th of this month. Highly motivated group that is determined to get GLBT and Ally Democrats into elected office. You can contact them at [email protected].

  • libertarian (unverified)

    The Cascade Policy Intitute defines itself as a LIBERTARIAN think tank: http://www.cascadepolicy.org/about/about_overview.html

    It is not on the right! It is not conservative! I don't understand why liberal bloggers keep getting this wrong!

  • Rorovitz (unverified)


    I agree. I like the Libertarians more than the R's. I disagree on a few things, like the public funding for education and a social safety net, but you know the libertarians don't care what you do in the bedroom!

    On a different note, the WaPo article, or maybe a different one that I read in the Oregonian, stated that ACT was in bad shape with no supporting arguments. Anyone else see that that may have an explanatory note? I didn't get it.

  • Javier O. Sanchez (unverified)


    I must admit, I fear liberatarians more than predictable god-fearing, conservatives, though I do love the "freedom" talks I have with random, some intimate, lib-peeps who enjoy the fruitful bounties of Oregon as much as I, and the socials are fun, sexy and tokey.

    I still get perplexed by the "hands-off" approach and wonder about the whole Ayn Rand-Howard Roark-"Damn it Howard, Why must you build that beautiful buiding!"-Geocentric Solopsism thingy, which is a powerful dynamic for creating cults and substantiating reality TV, but a bad seed to plant in democratic policies, or so I disclaim (therapy has given me the understanding of conveying opinion with "disclaiming").

    "Laissez Faire" rhymes with "Pubic Hair"--


  • Art Morgan (unverified)

    It is not on the right! It is not conservative! I don't understand why liberal bloggers keep getting this wrong!

    If Libertarians aren't conservative, why do they vote for conservatives? Why does the Cato Institute help prop up the Bush regime?

    Most of the people I meet who call themselves Libertarian are really conservatives who happen to be a little more open-minded on social issues than your average wingnut.

    I had a good discussion going with libertarians on my blog under this post ("Beware of Libertarians bearing gifts"), and I must admit that some of the Lib's seemed fairly rational.

  • libertarian (unverified)

    I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I prefer to vote Libertarian when there is a viable candidate.

    Cato propping up Bush... you have got to be kidding me? Apparently you don't follow Cato very closely. In fact, if you go to Cato.org right now, you will notice the following "hot topics" on the left side of the screen: "Exiting Iraq"..."GOP Spending"... "Liberty in Wartime." If you look at today's "Daily Dispatch" on the right side, you will notice a piece, "Bush Signs Energy Bill." All of these links criticize Bush and the Republican agenda.

    Libertarians are just as liberal as they are conservative. People who are confused should consult the world's smallest political quiz: http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html Upon completing the quiz you will see the diamond-shaped political spectrum. Libertarians are in the middle-of-the-road, yet generally lean towards less government in social, economic, and defense-related issues.

  • Franklin Shays (unverified)

    I don't understand why liberal bloggers keep getting this wrong!

    Because to them anybody who believes in freedom and property rights is "right wing."

    Never mind that libertarians are typically just as "liberal" on personal issues as any Democrat - more so if you throw in the standard libertarian opposition to disastrous experiments in drug and alcohol prohibition, which Progressives were the ones to actually introduce to America on a national scale. Libertarians are in sum much more principled in their opposition to state-sponsored violence (at home and abroad) than Democrats, who frankly tend to be a rather bloodthirsty lot when it's their own good 'ol boys&gals running the war machine.

    But, of course, libertarians also believe in individual self-determination, low taxation, personal responsibility and freedom of economic choice, and that's quite enough to make them "conservative" or "reactionary" in the collectivist eyes of the socialist left.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Cody is exactly correct, it is time to develop more infrastructure. The Rural Caucus is off and running, we have tentatively set the weekend of Nov. 5/6 as a first retreat to get three things going: Get to know each other better, start work on new electioneering methodologies, and start work on platform related issues. As this retreat gets firmed up better, information will be sent out to our email list, Democratic Party County Chairs, and the DPO. Anyone wanting to be on the email list can send me an email to that effect, provided that you meet our membership criteria (A registered Oregon Democrat that supports the Rural Caucus).

    Message is key. The Rural Democrats have a essential role in working on a message that will bring in the pragmatic rural people to the Democratic Party. We need to develop the message and tools that will help rural voters see that the Party for people is infinately better for them than the party of big business.

    I for one would like to see some real money on the Democratic side of things. We have enough for campaign signs and that sort of thing, but the real money for research and testing of theoretical approaches is currently a dream. I for one would like active experimentation where we do control group studies to see what methods work to convince voters to vote Democratic. Rural Oregon has areas that would make perfect labortories for testing new electioneering methodology. A few hundred thousand spend over a period of 2-3 years could blow away many barriers in rural areas.

    My vision on this is fairly simple: If we can find ways to get rural America to vote Democratic again, then the Neo-Con rise to power will fill a chapter in a dusty history book that never gets looked at again.

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