December 12, 2006
-- by Dave Johnson
You might have heard that progressive organizations are starved for funds, while the hundreds of right-wing organizations like The Heritage Foundation that pound us with the right-wing message every day are all flush with corporate and wealthy-donor money. You might have heard that people who work for right-wing organizations are well-paid, well-trained and have access to the latest technology and resources, while people who fight for OUR values have to work for a pittance and barely get by, use ancient technology, etc.
It's true. Progressive organizations ARE starved for funds, and as a result many of them primarily reach out to their membership lists - to appeal for funds - instead of reaching out to the public to broaden the progressive base. Meanwhile the conservative organizations are always out there making the case for conservative ideology and candidates. So the public - and resulting government policy - understandably leans right.
Because of this lack of funds many progressive organizations depend on a select few donors and have to be cautiously "centrist," moderating their message and mission rather than risk giving offense by reaching out with a message that would resonate with more people - and grow the base.
Here's a thought. If everyone who reads DailyKos, Huffington Post, Eschaton, Common Dreams, AlterNet, BuzzFlash, Smirking Chimp and all the other online progressive sites and blogs each gave at least $100 to a progressive organization - ANY progressive organization - it would end the dominance of the corporations and the conservative movement once and for all. There would be enough money for good jobs and internships for anyone interested in working to support progressive activities and candidates and policies.
If everyone who calls themselves a progressive gave $100 to a progressive organization there would be training programs for activists, resources for reaching the public, new pundits writing op-eds and appearing on TV, speakers for groups across the country... An infrastructure would develop to build a progressive movement that takes back our democracy. There would be outreach to the general public explaining what progressives are about and why progressive values and policies and candidates are better for them.
And then the second year there would be a flowering of new, focused, innovative organizations exploring new ways to benefit society and grow the progressive base.
IF every progressive gave $100... That is a big 'if.' Do you remember hearing about all the money raised online for the Paul Hackett campaign in Ohio? It sounded like a lot. Did you know that less than 1% of the blog readers contributed? Did you know that only a fraction of progressives gave to Dean? Imagine what could happen if we ALL gave at least $100 every year!
And another thing. The REASON that "big money dominates politics" is because often it is pretty much the ONLY money available. We could END the dominance of big money if each of us gave at least $100 to progressive organizations. In fact, by providing the resources to go up against the corporations we could create an environment where laws banning corporations from giving ANY money could be passed.
Give $100 to a progressive organization today, and tell every like-minded progressive you know to do the same. I, of course, suggest starting with the Commonweal Institute. Disclaimer: I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that.
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I think this actually needs to be organized, sort of like United Fund, or maybe like what Dean's been doing, rather than just random giving. For one thing, we need a list of progressive organizations to which o give and some knowledge of what each one is doing. So who's going to do the job of organizing this?
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