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June 1, 2005

Actually -- Moolah

-- by Dave Johnson

Actually, one thing I do want to say before I try to sleep. I'm spending some of the time here hanging around with other bloggers at this conference, and one subject keeps coming up: money. Moolah. I was talking with Oliver Willis this morning (a really great guy -- read his blog) and one of the things that we discussed was the big problem with Progressives being the lack of funds. At about the same time Atrios linked to John Arivosis' post on the subject of money. Then I ran into both of them. And just now I came across this postat The Blogging of the President that reminded me of all this so here I am.

This is a big, big problem. The Right has money that is used effectively, and Progressives do not. You can generally assume that everyone on the Right is funded. This gives them time and space to think and formulate. The Right has money to train thousands of new operatives every year. And it is not just because of corporations and wealthy funders. Question: how much money have you donated to Progressive organizations, not candidates this year? (Or to bloggers?) Many on the Right give a lot of money, and the religious tithe 10% of their gross income. (I mention this because I think plenty of that is finding its way into right-wing politics.) Can you say that the person-on-the-street Progressive can match their dedication? How many Progressives are putting their money where their hearts are? (The "conservative movement" is funded to the tune of about $400 million per year, not counting commercial outfits like Fox, or election-related spending.)

This is a big subject among bloggers, worth discussing out there in the real world. But like I said before, it's late and I have to be up early.

Posted by Dave Johnson at June 1, 2005 8:59 PM

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Comments

Progressives have tended to fund organizations that do good. Conservatives fund organizations that do politics. Progressives have to learn to fund organizations that are good at politics....

Posted by: donna at June 2, 2005 9:55 AM

I don't donate to bloggers or to any other pundits. Blogging is a hobby that can be done for free, so people do not require money to blog. That said, I agree that actual progressive organizations (as opposed to the 101st fighting keyboarders of any political stripe) ought to be better funded.

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at June 2, 2005 10:43 AM

I agree with Elayne. I get burned up by the lefty uber-bloggers who scream about government regulation of their political BLOGGING when what is really proposed is regulation of their political MONEY. I find the tone of their complaints literally indistinguishable from that of GE, FOX, VIACOM, et al.

Not that that applies to you, Dave. If you had any money, I'd be kissing up to you.

Posted by: richard at June 2, 2005 11:53 AM

Elayne,

“I don't donate to bloggers or to any other pundits. Blogging is a hobby that can be done for free, so people do not require money to blog.”

Are you kidding?

Serious blogging is not a hobby. It is serious work. You can see it. You can see the research that goes into it. I mean, do think Seeing the Forest is the result of somebody’s hobby? Where do you think the bloggers get the time to write, review, edit, research? And read and respond to our comments by the way. They, most likely, do so by taking time away from how they make their living. Or by missing being with their families.

I could name 50 off the top of my hat that are deserving of financial support. They are professionals. I don’t have any quick answers how they can make money so they can continue to provide the great service that they are providing. But I know this….without them we will lose a potent vehicle to challenge BushCo and the forces of the Corporate and Religious Right. The blogs, the serious blogs, are the best thing that has happened to political discourse in many decades. The bloggers, imperfect as they can be, should be saluted. Not dismissed as mere ‘hobbyists’.

If I were a blogger, a serious blogger, and read what you wrote I would be furious. That I am NOT a blogger is directly related to the fact that I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to take time away from my work right now. I WISH I could do it as a hobby. But if you are effective blogger you better be an effective researcher. And that take time. I can’t do it right now. But I sure thank the people who are taking the time.


Posted by: jon st at June 2, 2005 1:28 PM

Spot-on Dave! I have thought for a while that there MUST be progressive people who are very wealthy but who don't invest their money as 'wisely' as the right-wingers. I must, however, draw your attention to one person who commented on the fact that he sent a cheque to John Aravosis in early April but at the end of May that cheque had not been cashed yet. I must also say I'm still mulling about the whole post - John A.'s attitude bothers me a little bit. To give just one example: he derides leftists and liberals for being against all religion just because 'some people hate us (i.e. gays)' but .. isn't all organised religion homophobic? And, on another topic, does he think that those churches who preach that being wealthy is a sign that one has been chosen by God are right? I should raise this with John A. but am certain there would not be a reply from past experience...

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at June 2, 2005 2:05 PM

One of the biggest problems I have is finding people and organizations that will actually make good use of my donation. If I'm a right-wingnut, I have no such shortage -- they're begging me to donate, heck my grandmother received hundreds of solicitations from Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and said organizations are of proven effectiveness at getting their candidates elected. Where are the *effective* people on the left that I could donate to? Seems like every organization I run into seems to be one guy with a Xerox machine that's about as effective as pissing in the wind...

Money is no good if it isn't being used to good purpose. Just ask Howard Dean, who pissed away a spectacular pile of cash (some of which was mine, sigh) and got zip (nada) for his money...

-- Badtux the Skeptical Penguin

Posted by: BadTux at June 3, 2005 12:07 AM

One of the biggest problems I have is finding people and organizations that will actually make good use of my donation. If I'm a right-wingnut, I have no such shortage -- they're begging me to donate, heck my grandmother received hundreds of solicitations from Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and said organizations are of proven effectiveness at getting their candidates elected. Where are the *effective* people on the left that I could donate to? Seems like every organization I run into seems to be one guy with a Xerox machine that's about as effective as pissing in the wind...

Money is no good if it isn't being used to good purpose. Just ask Howard Dean, who pissed away a spectacular pile of cash (some of which was mine, sigh) and got zip (nada) for his money...

-- Badtux the Skeptical Penguin

Posted by: BadTux at June 3, 2005 12:09 AM

1.the right has a cleavage between the religious, social-regressive types and the low-tax corporatists, but this split is not reflected in the funding, for the most part.

2. We have a similar cleavage, between the social progressives who are the rank-and-file of the democratic party, and our own corporatists-- the DLC and pretty much everyone else at the head of the party. In our case, this split is reflected in a deep mistrust of the national party that is largely diffuse and inchoate, although it briefly found expression in Howard Dean's campaign in 2003. (Whether or not he was the ideal person to spearhead such a movement is another matter, and not really worth going into for the sake of discussing this post.The point is merely that a lot of his early success was due to his tapping in to this widely-felt frustration and mistrust.)

The conventional wisdom(for some) is that the GOP is far more successful in keeping their rank-and-file in line and on-message, the implication being that the corporatists are really in control and have no intention of actually ceding anything meaningful to the Christian/Radical Right, just empty political gestures. I believe this may have been true at one point in the 90s, but now the dynamic has shifted, and the radical right is in control, if not wholly, then at least more so than the corporatists.

To go back to the parallel with the left, we have to battle among ourselves to wrest control of the democratic party from our corporatists, who unlike the Bush 43 team viz a viz their constituencies, only want our money and our votes, but couldn't care less about meaningful progressive politics. Maybe Hillary and Edwards and Kerry et al really do have a progressive vision for the country, but I haven't seen it. We shouldn't have to battle our party leadership in the first place.

We don't have a comprable church-based movement. What are we going to do, suddenly convert 25 or 30 million people to Unitarianism? It ain't gonna happen.

MoveOn is a good idea, but it seems like an unfocused organization. I'm not clear on what they've actually accomplished. Yes, I get their emails. But if I send all the form letters and emails they want me to, what will that accomplish apart from giving congressional staffers more email to delete and letters to toss?

Posted by: Hugo Zoom at June 3, 2005 1:51 AM

You guys should form a pundit union.
I pledge not to read any scab bloggers.

Posted by: The Cosmic Fluke at June 3, 2005 7:21 AM

I'm a member of the Unowned Press.

My web log isn't much, but I do it on my own, I'm driven by my own conscience, and I wouldn't accept money from anyone if it were offered.

Then again, I don't provide the same level of service as many othe web logs. This is a medium that can be used by individuals, collaborative groups, and funded organizations who act as proxies for us, by us, and of us.

There's room for all kinds of trees in this forest.

Posted by: Michael Miller at June 3, 2005 1:57 PM

As a conservative myself, I'd say there might be something to the demographics of the two constituencies. More business-minded folks drive the organization of right-wing agendas, while perhaps less business-savvy drive left-wing agendas which means a lot of you folks' money gets lost in the bureaucracy - i.e. you spend a lot of energy (time/money/resources) just getting to the point where your money can be effective.

This, of course, is a generalization. I'm sure there are plenty of business-savvy folks on the left - just not many rearing their heads to lead all the little sub-organizations that funnel up to the big ticket.

I think you do have plenty of resources. Most of the ultra-wealthy lean left. More than money perhaps, you need someone who can articulate a concise vision for the country. Kerry was horrible at this I think. This way even if you lose you know that people know exactly where you're coming from and its simply a matter of numbers in terms of people agreeing with that vision. To lose knowing that folks don't really understand where you're coming from must drive you crazy. I know it would me.

I mean, here's what I think of when I think of liberal (or democrat - I know they're not necessarily synonymous) in no particular order:

1. General hatred for Bush
2. Always protect the environment
3. Raise taxes on rich
4. General disdain for large corporations
5. Fight for minority rights

There's probably some other biggies - just what I think of off the top of my head. The problem is I don't see many "how's" and "why's" to go along with these items. Get someone (or a few someones) who can summarize and articulate the majority on the left's views, and then articulate why those views are best and how to implement them, and I think you'll see an increase in funding (assuming folks agree)

A conservative's two cents.

Posted by: Pedro at June 3, 2005 2:42 PM

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