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January 19, 2006

Funding A Counter-Attack Against The Right

-- by Dave Johnson

DailyKos currently gets between 550,000 and 600,000 unique "visitors" per day. This number grows into the millions during elections and breaking news events. This is not "page views" where people who hit refresh are counted more than once. This is unique "IPs" which means that none of these are counted twice, and in fact some of these are sites where a number of computers count as a single "visitor" for technical reasons, like NAT routers. And the are plenty of people who do not visit every day, so the total number of people who visit DailyKos is much greater than this number. Crooks & Liars is getting more than 135,000 a day. Atrios more than 120,000. Add Raw Story, Talking Points Memo, etc... and there are a lot of readers, some duplicates, but adding up to big numbers. Any way you count it there are millions of progressive blog readers And there are millions more dedicated progressives who are not blog readers.

What would happen to the Right's stranglehold on America's public discussion if each and every one of those blog readers were in the habit of donating generously to the blogs they read, and to the kind of "Progressive Infrastructure" organizations that are designed to study and fight back against the Right? (more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here...)

I'm not talking about what we primarily do now, donating to candidates and running defensively from one election to the next. That doesn't work because there is no progressive organizational infrastructure to support those candidates with issue education and general outreach. The way it works now each progressive candidate is expected to prepare, from scratch, alone, DURING the campaign season a "message" and an approach to reaching out to the voters. The Republicans have a huge network of organizations - The Party even calls them "GOP Groups" - that does that for them, all year, every year, putting out a central message, reaching the general public with that message, and then come election time training and coordinating the efforts of their candidates. All the Republican candidates have to do is show up - these organizations do most of the rest for them. (Do you really think that George Bush is an exceptional candidate, so much sharper than Gore or Kerry - or do you think he had help?)

So I'm not talking about election funding at all. I'm talking about long-term efforts to reach out to the general public, all across the country, to explain the benefits of Progressive ideas, and to rebuild the widespread Progressive consensus that brought us things like laws to protect consumers, laws to protect the environment, minimum wages, health insurance programs like Medicare (which should be extended to everybody), public parks, public schools, public universities, FEMA, birth control education, programs to help bring people up out of poverty... (I want to cry just thinking about the destruction the far-right has brought on America...)

But for all our talk about community and helping each other, giving generously is obviously, obviously not a progressive value.

Am I wrong? Many Christians give 10% of their before-tax income to their church. THAT is a value. THAT is giving generously because they believe it is the right thing to do. A person making $50,000 a year and giving $5,000 a year is a generous donor.

But never mind about 10%. If every single blog reader gave at least $100 to progressive organizations (and blogs) - a whopping $8 per month - that would completely fund all of the new "Progressive Infrastructure" organizations AND would begin to build an alternative media capable of getting OUR word out. And it would do it democratically, rather than forcing organizations to depend on a few very large donors, which is how funding works today. And don't think the organizations are doing much other than what those donors want them doing. Let me say it again, if every blog reader gave at least $100 to the right organizations this national nightmare would end. And to be clear, I do not mean instead of money you might already be giving, I mean along with that money.

I'll be building on this, and you should be thinking about it, too. You should be planning now to be giving soon. I think if we can come up with a clear plan, outlining each organization, what it will do, how it will make a difference, and how much money it needs to get going, that we really can raise the needed money by asking millions of blog readers and other progressives to each give money.

We are in a national emergency, we are losing our democracy, please begin thinking about sacrificing a bit to help change things for the better. Please start talking about it, please leave some suggestions here in the comments on how to begin instilling giving as a general progressive value.

Here's that list again, who did I miss?

Commonweal Institute http://commonwealinstitute.org/
Rockridge Institute http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/
Media Matters http://mediamatters.org/
Center for American Progress http://www.americanprogress.org/
New Progressive Coalition http://www.newprogressivecoalition.com
Media Transparency http://mediatransparency.org/
Spin Project http://www.spinproject.org/
Progressive Communications Network http://www.spiritinaction.net/pcn/
PLAN http://www.progressivestates.org/
New Politics Institute http://www.ndnpac.org/npi/
Campaign for Americas Future http://www.ourfuture.org/
Rockwood Leadership http://www.rockwoodfund.org/
Frameworks http://www.frameworksinstitute.org/
Progressive Leadership Institute http://www.progressleaders.org/

Posted by Dave Johnson at January 19, 2006 3:20 PM

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