The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Cross Posted On Dailykos

In the 2003-2004 cycle, according to an internal study of FEC reports, the membership of MoveOn.org contributed $180 million to Democratic candidates for federal office (House, Senate and President). Given both that the progressive netroots are larger than just MoveOn.org, and the propensity of netroots activists to make small donations that would not appear in FEC reports, the total amount of money the netroots contributed Democratic federal campaigns and committees in 2003-2004 was probably closer to $300 million. The Center for Public Integrity explains where this money went:
In the 2004 federal races, more than $1.85 billion flowed through a professional corps of consultants whose influence plays an important, though largely unexamined, role in the unrelenting escalation of campaign spending, a groundbreaking Center for Public Integrity study has found.(...)
  • About 600 professional consultants were paid more than a combined $1.85 billion in the 2003-2004 federal campaigns.

  • Media consultants, who offer political and strategic advice and handle political advertising, were paid $1.2 billion, or 65 percent of all consultant spending.

  • Direct mail consultants billed the second-largest amount, $298 million, totaling 16 percent of all consultant spending.

  • Consultants routinely pitch campaign plans that rely heavily on their own specialty because there is a financial incentive to do so.

  • Fundraising consultants, whose services are necessitated in large part by the rising amounts campaigns spend on other consultants, cost candidates at least $59 million.
In a painful and disturbing irony, the same Democratic political consultant structure that the netroots seek to reform--and which Markos and Jerome called "The Consultant Con" in Crashing the Gate--is actually being funded, reinforced, and strengthened by the netroots. Roughly one-third of the money that went to Democratic campaign consultants in the 2003-2004 election cycle came from netroots activists, even if those activists were not always giving online. The large commissions on media buys, the bad television ads, the consultants who continue to be hired despite repeatedly losing elections--that is all being directly funded by people like you.
Last week, Max Sawicky made a lot of people in the blogosphere angry when he referred to the netroots as"a mostly brainless vacuum cleaner of donations for the Democratic Party." At the time, I was far too irritated to take his vitriol seriously, but upon further reflection I wonder if he has a point. While I don't think the netroots should regret any of the money it raised for Democratic candidates during 2003-2006, as it was a major factor both in helping to put Democrats back in charge and to get Democrats in charge to take the progressive movement more seriously, it would be have been a lot smarter to simultaneously raise more money for long term movement building rather than just short term election results. We needed to do more to help support the underfunded people, institutions and ideas that make the progressive movement possible. Just lining the pockets of already well compensated consultants is no way to build a movement over the long term.

My partner at BlogPac, Matt Stoller, has previously written about examples of full-time progressive movement activists who receive little or no compensation for their work. Maria Leavey, who did not have health insurance, passed away last month as the result of a heart attack a doctor could have identified. Lane Hudson was fired from the Human Rights Campaign for being too aggressive when he pushed the Mark Foley scandal into the mainstream. And it goes beyond activists. Buy Blue, a brilliant, entirely netroots driven campaign to help keep progressive money in progressive hands, may shut down soon because it does not have any funding. Local progressive bloggers typically lose money on blogging every year, even as they help transform local media and activist scenes. Even a prominent blogger such as myself, who helped raise around $2 million for Democratic candidates and committees in the 2005-2006 cycle (and transfer another $3 million into competitive races through Use It Or Lose It), spent the entire 2005-2006 cycle without health insurance. Quite frankly, it is pretty brainless for someone such as myself to help so much money flow into the hands of a small number of highly paid consultants without simultaneously raising money to meet my own basic needs, such as health insurance. What the hell was I doing?

But I am not just angry at myself, or the general lack of funding currently available to the people, institutions, and ideas that make the progressive movement so vital. I am also pissed off at the Democratic and progressive establishment that is funded with our dollars, but which refuses to fund us in return. I have worked on trying to secure more monetary and other forms of support for bloggers for a long time. For example, that was why I founded the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, and that is what Matt and I are trying to do with BlogPac. However, there have been quite a few other, less successful ventures I have tried, and the main problem has always been that large progressive donors, institutions and politicians just don't want to fund something they can't control. Since the political blogosphere and the people powered progressive movement is, by nature, something over which no one can exert all that much individual control, it just doesn't get funding in the same way that more staid, cautious, and restrained progressive organizations and politicians receive. It also doesn't help that we have been so good at channeling resources into the establishment without asking for anything in return. Why would major donors, organizations, and politicians bother to fund us if we fund them without asking for anything in return?

This situation sucks--literally. When it comes to political contributions and the progressive movement, the flow of money is almost entirely one-way. To the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, it is sucked out of the movement, and pocketed by the establishment. This is yet another reason why the recent New York Times article about progressive bloggers supposedly being on the take was absurd. As a handful of progressive bloggers are criticized for picking up the occasional establishment consulting job, the progressive netroots as a whole funnels exponentially more money into the establishment while receiving virtually no help in return when it comes to building our movement. What progressive organizations do anything to help support the same bloggers they rely upon in order to spread their message? Almost none. What Democratic politicians who post diaries on blogs like Dailykos use their PACs to give money to movement building organizations like BlogPac or Democracy for America? During my tenure as treasurer for BlogPac, the only leadership PAC that gave us money or any resources at all was Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund (and yes, I did ask quite a few others). Leadership PACs, multi-issue advocacy organizations, large progressive donors--these are establishment elements that could make a huge difference in ensuring the survival and long term growth of the progressive movement in the same way that the progressive movement has exponentially enhanced the electoral, media and activist capability of the entire progressive ecosystem. But that isn't happening, and the money still continues to flow almost entirely in one direction. As we enhance their structures, many of ours regularly teeter on the verge of outright collapse.

This situation is untenable over the long term, and so in our dealings with members of the progressive establishment we can't stay quiet about it anymore. When major figures in the progressive establishment post diaries on blogs such as Dailykos, commenters need to remind them of ways they can help build the progressive movement. Tell them to purchase Blogads on progressive blogs in their home state. Tell them to have their leadership PACs donate to organizations such as BlogPac, and to have their donors to the same. Tell them they it many cases, they and their donors can directly provide an anonymous financial tip to their favorite blogs using Pay Pal. Tell them to only hire fundraising organizations that provide their grunts with a living wage. Point them to sites such as Buy Blue which instructs progressives on how we can keep our money in progressive hands. In other words, tell them that as much as we are willing to help them, and as much as we appreciate their newfound respect, we need their help too, and give them specific ways in which they can provide that help.

If progressivism is going to continue to be on the rise in America, the one way flow of progressive movement money has to end. Not only do netroots activists have to do a better job of providing resources to build netroots infrastructure, we have to let the establishment know it needs to help build that infrastructure itself. Doing so is in their own best interest, and just not because the progressive movement helps the Democratic Party and the progressive, political ecosystem. As I pointed out at the beginning of this post, we are funding them. A strong progressive movement means a strong resources base for the Democratic establishment. If they want to see that resource base wither on the vine, one of the best ways would be to never lift a finger to help us. This is a point we need to make to the establishment as clearly as possible.

As a final note, in the comments, I would like to hear any and all ideas you may have on helping to fund the progressive movement. BlogPac is listening.

Tags: BlogPac, Democrats, progressive movement (all tags)

Comments

77 Comments

Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I have to say I always wondered why bloggers didn't ask for more money for themselves.

My own idea for a way to reverse this would be to create a website that has people propose long term building projects and they ask for funding.  You would have to have the funding come after the project is underway or complete, but thats the first idea that comes to mind.

by sterra 2007-01-25 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
I am actually going to launch a campaign not unlike that in the next month. It will be a contest of sorts. I don't want ot give away more than that.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 10:56AM | 0 recs
Chris, can you pull together two numbers

There are two primary PACs run by bloggers: BlogPAC and Blue America. Can you put up the total between the two so we can have a comparision? (of course, subtracting BlogPAC's support for Blue America so the same money isn't counted twice)

If the 39 Democratic senator not up for re-election in 2008 maxed out to both BlogPAC and Blue America how many times more money would each PAC have in 2008?

Great post.

by Bob Brigham 2007-01-25 07:36AM | 0 recs
PAC money raised

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2. asp?strID=C00406405

BlogPAC in the 2006 cycle:
$58,512

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2. asp?strID=C00427617

Blue America PAC in the 2006 cycle:
$8,878

by EricJaffa 2007-01-25 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: PAC money raised

Actually, the second link isn't right, Blue America raised $54,474.21. Open secrets said that it was through yesterday, but it wasn't. I checked the PDF and it looks like the total is $57,685.21.

And the latest from BlogPAC isn't online yet.

BTW: isn't it kinda cool to see a PAC raise over 90% via actblue.

by Bob Brigham 2007-01-25 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: PAC money raised
Hmmm... I didn't know they raised exactly as much as we did. Maybe they didn't need our money after all.... :-)
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 10:56AM | 0 recs
Our Money, Our Message

It's way past time to set up our own political infrastructure.  

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-01-25 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Our Money, Our Message
I like the slogan. Mind if I steal that, if slightly rephrased? "Our money, our movement."
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 10:57AM | 0 recs
It's Why

I moved it out of the body, where it started out, and into the subject line.

Mind if I steal that, if slightly rephrased? "Our money, our movement."
Our money, our message, our movement... use them all!

It's time to stop giving our power away, and anything that helps get that across is A-OK with me.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-01-25 03:36PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

While I'm mostly with you, some of this money is going to operating the consultant operations; i.e. to focus groups, polling, etc., and not just to production of ads & such.

But still, it's too much.

by niq 2007-01-25 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
That's true, but it doesn't change the percentages much, as you noted. The study I linked didn't give exact figures on that.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I think some commentors above unfairly dismiss this as Bowers and Stoller looking to become the new consultant class. I think their commitment to democratic and participatory organizing and widespread citizen inclusion should alone lay any such canards to rest.

The matter of how we who do politics earn and sustain a living is a deadly serious question - literally, as it turned out in Maria Leavey's case. NO political movement of ANY kind survives or retains influence without having a financial base. We saw it in the '60s. Those organizations that could fundraise, either from the federal war on poverty or from unions or from donors, achieved significant change and mobilized millions to become involved in politics.

And when Lewis Powell and other corporate types and conservatives organized in the 1970s to beat back this tide, they also recognize the crucial importance of money. So they shook down corporations and wealthy donors, from members of the US Chamber of Commerce to folks like Scaife and Ahmanson to build the massive right wing network that exists today.

We need not necessarily a similar institutional think tank-focused movement of the left. We already possess a strong infrastructure. But it needs to value developing talent as highly as it values other elements of its core mission.

I've worked in nonprofits before and have some experience with interacting with donors and talking to fundraisers. Donors currently abhor the idea of paying for salaries. These ostensibly liberal people think nonprofit workers should be paid starvation wages and instead console themselves with what Markos and Jerome rightly called a "psychological wage."

The problem with this is that the talent that is developed in these organizations is usually lost entirely to progressive politics as people decide they need to eat and survive. They take jobs in totally unrelated fields that leave them little time to practice what they've learned or to share it with others. The rate of attrition, the loss of manpower and skill and knowledge, is utterly appalling.

So we need to take this matter extremely seriously, because it is central to the fate and future of our movement.

by eugene 2007-01-25 07:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Donors currently abhor the idea of paying for salaries.

I've zero experience in the field - so perhaps it's a dumb question.

But - how do these donors actually justify not being willing to fund decent salaries?

Presumably, a lot of them are executives, or own their own companies, so are used to the idea that good staff need to be paid for. Plus - being, y'know, liberal, you'd have thought they might welcome the principle with open arms.

Or don't they get round to needing to justify their stinginess with their foundations' donations because fundraisers are not all-fire keen on raising the issue, for fear that they take their moneybags elsewhere?

by skeptic06 2007-01-25 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

A very good question.

In my experience, working for a smaller environmental non profit at the early part of this decade, the donor base was classed into two categories - wealthy businessmen and the small but consistent annual donors.

The first group is sometimes cognizant of the need to develop and hire good staff - their problem is they believe "good staff" are the folks at the top. So the director and the fundraiser get paid well but everyone else gets barely enough, just as happens in their corporations.

The second group are extremely stingy about this and often were nearly fanatical about not having their donations going to "overhead or salaries." Some even wrote that on their checks! I've never quite been able to pin down where it comes from but some of it is generational. They assume that people can either get by, or that you toil in penury in your 20s and then you'll somehow magically enter the land of economic security and be able to make ongoing contributions to the good of society.

Neither group seemed to understand the economic conditions of people working at nonprofits - especially in the SF Bay Area, where mine was. Their views were 20-30 years out of date at least.

by eugene 2007-01-25 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I remember when I was making about $15K a year, and donating to enviro orgs and stuff.  The notion that I was helping to pay the salary of some head honcho whose salary was bigger than that of the President of the United States bugged the hell out of me when I found it out, and I quit giving to a few orgs on account of that.

But that's different from feeling that grunts didn't need to be paid decently.

In particular, I think the moment we lose a lot of talent is when our young operatives start thinking about getting married and having children.  It's one thing to live on ramen noodles when you're young and single, but most of us want to move past that stage eventually.  There has to be a career track for the young operatives that we want to become veteran operatives that doesn't involve either poverty or selling out.

by RT 2007-01-25 04:46PM | 0 recs
A Lot Easier to fundraise for Capital Projects

A capital project is something specific, focused, enabling. It is easier to sell donors on a new radio transmitter, or a computer server farm, or a database computer, than to fund the engineer, the  web-designer, or the DB administrator.

I think it is about making something concrete and visible to the donor. "If only we had this higher-power transmitter, our radio signal could reach 150,000 more people". There is sort of an expectation that you can raise money for on-going operations, but need a special boost for a special project.

It may be possible to fund salaries by framing it as a subscription or ongoing-operating budget.

"We run a tight operation, but in order to bring you our continuing services, we need 200 people at 100 per quarter which will pay office expenses and two salaries. Every subscription is matche 1 for 1 by a matching grant from a major donor. So far we have 50 people signed up to support us. Sign up now to get double the impact."

by MetaData 2007-01-25 04:27PM | 0 recs
Kind of muddy thinking.

1. Takes money to run campaigns.  Campaigns do have proven formula for getting elected, phone banks, canvassing, polling, advertising, working people to run the campaign.  Not sure where you expect the money to go except into the proven election techniques.

2. Saying the money should be funding the "infrastructure" is not very clear.  What "infrastructure"? Online political discussion groups? If you want to fund progressive infrastructure, a lot good progressive infrastructure goes begging for money. The Center for Public Integrity, the people you quote, would be one example. If you don't want to fund candidates (and campaigns) then send money to the progressive organizations that need it.

One way to cut down on the campaign costs would be to fund the progressive organizations that work on campaign reform.  Forcing radio and TV to provide free advertising to political candidates, having Post Office provide free mailing to political candidates would reduce the costs greatly.

Only real solution is complete public funding of elections with free TV, radio and posting.

It is no accident that as money becomes more and more central to politics, US government policy more and more serves the wealthy and the economic divide increases as the influence of money increases.

Several progressive groups (aka "infrastructure") are working on it...ironically by funding candidates who support it.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-25 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

One way to cut down on the campaign costs would be to fund the progressive organizations that work on campaign reform.

Be careful, because a lot of them also worked hard to regulate political activity on the Internet.

by Adam B 2007-01-25 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

"Be careful, because a lot of them also worked hard to regulate political activity on the Internet."

Oh...I'm very careful who I give money to ;).

However the issue was sending money to candidates and how this didn't build "progressive infrastructure" so I suggested if you wanted to build progressive infrastructure, there are a lot of progressive organizations which need money badly and you could give to them if you didn't want your money going to political campaigns.

Just curious, which progressive organizations worked hard to regulate political activity on the internet?

And what "political activity" were they trying to regulate?

by BrionLutz 2007-01-25 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

Democracy 21, Campaign Legal Center, and the Center for Responsive Politics advocated for a set of regulations which would have characterized blogs like DailyKos and MyDD as political action committees, which would have created huge regulatory costs for anyone who seeks to talk politics and influence them.  They viciously (and dishonestly) fought against protections which Congress was trying to put in place for the Internet.

The good guys, however, include Public Campaign.

by Adam B 2007-01-25 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

"Democracy 21, Campaign Legal Center, and the Center for Responsive Politics..."

All excellent groups working for publicly financed elections.

All would be excellent choices for progressive dollars if, as the original author opined, you did not want you political donations going directly to individual politician's campaign costs.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-25 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

But not like Public Campaign does.  You can support public financing of elections without also supporting those who would kill the netroots.

by Adam B 2007-01-26 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

"You can support public financing of elections without also supporting those who would kill the netroots."

Idea that any of those great progressive organizations that have been pushing for clean, publicly financed elections free of the corrupting influence of wealthy donors are out to "kill netroots" is a bit silly.

I'd certainly trust the instincts of Fred Wertheimer of Project 21 over 99.9% of bloggers on the subject of campaign finance reform.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-26 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

That's what their proposals would have done -- characterized sites whose primary purpose was electing Democrats as being "political action committees", including any group site that spent $1000+ on hosting fees and the like, preventing bloggers from fundraising while reporting, etc.  

Don't take my word for it - read what they said in response to the FiredUp AO request, among other things.

by Adam B 2007-01-26 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Kind of muddy thinking.

"That's what their proposals would have done -- characterized sites whose primary purpose was electing Democrats as being "political action committees"...

You probably need to look into the difference between 527's (MoveOn.org, Swiftboat.org) and PAC.

Doesn't sound like you understand the details.

If one is talking about spending money on "progressive infrastructure", nothing is more progressive than publicly financed elections and no organization more focused on that or with a better track record than Democracy 21 and Fred Wertheimer.

by BrionLutz 2007-01-26 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

What happens in California when Boxer and Feinstein retire? We leave the airwaves to the Republicans?How do you expect the money to be used? Someone has to design the ads and buy the time whether it be a political ad consultant or, in some cases, Madison Avenue. Someone has to design, print and send out direct mail. Sure, in some races, just going door to door may work. But I don't think John Tester, or any of the winning Senate candidates win without ads? THat is the reality we live in unless and until serious changes are made, financing becames public and the airwaves are opened for free dialogue.

by RandyMI 2007-01-25 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
I'm for public financing, and it is an issue we have talked about repeatedly on MyDD of late. I'm also not saying we should stop giving money to Dems or consultants at all. what I am saying is that we should keep some of our money home, and build our own infrastructure.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Chris,

In some ways, the progressive movement is in WORSE shape than you describe here (if that's possible).  The netroots has spent a LOT of money over the last couple of years on progressive and Democratic causes.  That money got Democrats elelcted in 2006, as well as helped rebuild Democratic parties all over the country.  That's good, and I'm glad we got Dean elected head of the DNC.  But, it is wholly insufficient.

I live in Northern VA, where we got Jim Webb elected Senator and Tim Kaine elected Governor. The Democartic Party here is MUCH stronger than it was a couple of years ago (although we ahve a long way to go) However, there is NO progressive movement here in Virginia. I'm a state board member of a progressive group (Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty - http://www.vadp.org) and am active in other progressive issues groups.  Most progressive groups based solely in Virginia struggle to survive.  There isn't much foundation support out there, and the foundations can be tough to work with. Also, I don't feel that we work together well.  There isn't nearly enough teamwork and organizing on progressive issues.  We feel the effect of the lack of progressive movement on the state level.  The Democratic Party of Virginia is a coalition of progressives, centrists, and populists (Black and White).  Progressives are the heart and soul of the party, but we have NO influence in Richmond.  Our governor governs as a centrist, but would be a lot more progressive if we could put pressure on him.  But, we can't.  Contrast this with a place like Colorado, where progressives and progressive funders seem to be more on the same page.  It's really a shame.

I think there needs to be a progressive movement separate from the Democratic Party.  That is stating to happen with the advent of groups like They Work For Us, but it hasn't gone nearly far enough.  Progressive funders could pay to organize communities and unite differing communities on the progressive causes they have in common.

That said, netroots give a lot of money, and with this post you have an opportunity.  One idea I have is to set up website clearinghouses in each state where progressive issue groups could be listed, along with a calendar of their activities and places where progressives can volunteer for the activities of different groups.  The Internet can greatly help smaller groups by getting people to know of their existence.  Similar sites could be set up by each state's Democratic Party, including local Democratic Parties and clubs.  MyDD (or another site) could take money from its readers and either set up its own organizers or donate to groups that already do such organization.  You could also do more of what you do now to donate to groups or individuals that you feel are moving forward the progressive movement.  Keep asking for cash and suggesting good projects - your readers will continue to donate and in ever larger amounts, especially in an off-year such as this one.

by econlibVA 2007-01-25 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

the main problem has always been that large progressive donors, institutions and politicians just don't want to fund something they can't control

I have nothing to offer on whatever actually passes for progressive infrastructure in this country-- I don't think there really is one-- but as a couple of posters above noted, there's a big difference in how the right funds and directs its much more massive operations.  The short pitch is that they insist on controlling their message, while our side insists on controlling the purse strings-- which is more effective?- and no, being roughly at 50% does not indicate successful messaging on our side, because our positions are actually more popular.

by latts 2007-01-25 08:08AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
Agreed. We need to aim for a lot more than 50%+1. and even when we get that, we need to change where the center of the country rests.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

One idea that I think could be extremely beneficial is for the Progressive States Network and BlogPac to work together to fund one intern/researcher that is a recent college graduate or student for each blog in the 50 state blog network going the next cycle...

A perfect example from Crashing the Gate of where we can step up and support young talent as the GOP has been doing for years.

Find out more about Mitch McConnell's new 2007 ticket of corruption featuring Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover

by kynetroots 2007-01-25 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I love this idea, as it funds not only netroots growth, but ensures that we build a crop of young activists who are integrated into the netroots infrastructure.

Plus, it's hard getting a good gig in the movement if you are young.  Projects like this, or SNAP PAC can be extremely valuable to the movement.

by Mike Connery 2007-01-25 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
good idea. We may very well do that.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I think Chris should have a research assistant to help with finding data, verify data, documentation, crunching numbers on spreadsheets, etc.  I'd help fund that.

by aip 2007-01-25 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

One way to cut down on the campaign costs would be to fund the progressive organizations that work on campaign reform.

Like we have been doing since 1974? How's that working for us?

Just four years ago we were a bunch of angry people sitting at computers. Now we are a critical part of the Democratic coaltion. I thought Sawicki's piece too snotty for words.

David Johnson has been talking about this for years, as has Robert Parry, from a slightly different point of view. One thing I admire about David Brock was his ability to set up his own, well funded, organization. Clearly his years in the right taught him that people have to be paid.

Clearly we need to fund ourselves, but we also need to go to wealthy foundations and make clear our country is in serious trouble right now because what they are doing is not working and they need to change their ways. There is nothing charitable about running a sweat shop. One of the reasons I despise Nader is that he help perpetuate this failed model.

It is OK for progressives to live in a smaller house than the right wing stink tank crowd. It is not OK for them to live in studio apartments and basements eating rice & beans and living without health insurance. That is not right. If we keep blogging about this at some point in the not distant future liberal foundations will be embarrassed into doing the right thing.

by Alice Marshall 2007-01-25 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I think a point here that should expand on Bowers breaking blue comment is to look at actions such as Draft Obama...he's already in the race and it appears people are simply trying to make an extra buck or name for themselves when they shoud be volunteering for the campaign...

Find out more about Mitch McConnell's new 2007 ticket of corruption featuring Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover

by kynetroots 2007-01-25 08:17AM | 0 recs
Responsibly supporting the costs of our vision

I think that we need to get more business oriented about this.

The generousity of the people behind BlogPAC and BlueAmerica is huge. The business sense, however, not so huge.

If we are serious about changing the world, we have to set up self-sustaining financial structures. I wince everything I see a brilliant netroots voice having to write a one-off pitch for a little bit of money. Hearing that they are going without healthcare (and who knows what else) pains me even more.

To my way of thinking it is ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE for donations to these funds (and similar endeavors) to automatically subtract 5% from the intended recipient to support infrastucture and management. This is a fair number, and makes some of the problem raised in Chris's post go away.

There is a legitmate, appropriate, consistant-with-long-term-viability need for netroots organizations to cover infrastructure and growth costs. We should not be shy about embracing the need for this.

Another idea -- how about a subscription service to key blog sites. I would be happy to commit to a reasonable monthly fee for the priviledge of being a MyDD, DailyKos, etc. reader. Ideally there could be a way I could set this up as autopay (with either long term committments or opt-out at any time) so that:

1. I can effortlessly support the leading voices of the netroots.

2. Those leading voices have a base of income they can count on.

by bratzlav 2007-01-25 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Responsibly supporting the costs of our vision
I can't argue with your perception of our business sense. But I think your right--it is time to start looking beyond single contributions, and seek long term, recurring viability.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Responsibly supporting the costs of our vision

A subscription service for MyDD was talked about in the lead-up to the election - are you working on this?

Even without pushing it hard, my guess is that, in 30 days, you'll get 40-80 people at an avg. of $15/mo, which would more than pay for the programmer to set it up for you.  It's a no-lose situation, and you don't need to justify how you spend the money (like you do for your one-off pitches).

To bring in money, you have to make it easy for donors, and that is one thing you haven't made easy for MyDD readers.

by aip 2007-01-25 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Responsibly supporting the costs of our vision

As an example, the longlived CompuServe forum that is devoted to aviation topics, AVSIG, asks a yearly fee of $20 for access to the full 23 threads, or $50, which gives full access for three years. A talented member did the programming that you now find there. While I'm not fully informed of their business organization, the fee is paid to an entity, not an individual.

by Books Alive 2007-01-25 12:36PM | 0 recs
Unsure of legal campaign finace issues

Certainly MoveOn has great fundraising potential.  Some of the money they raise could go to build some ongoing progressive infrastructure. If it would be possible to take a portion that goes to a candidate, but that I think runs afoul of campaign finance rules because I think MoveOn directs their donations to campaigns or bundles them.

I think think tanks could have a role.  For one, institutional entities can help provide health insurance.  Some bloggers and other activists could get health care that way.  There are ways to set up entities that allow contract workers or other entities to buy health insurance.  I know that it is still expensive but there could be ways to subsidize that.  

As I said in another comment somewhere I became aware of the financial advantage the right has when a friend of mine was hired by a think tank and the magazine they sponsored.  It is a reasonable living.  We need to start channeling some of our fundraising to these kinds of entities.

A buying pool or network for health insurance would be very important I think.  One of the many reasons we need universal, single payer health care.

by debcoop 2007-01-25 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

The only way you'll have some teeth is to stop funding candidates unless they abide by a certain code, including the groups they hire.

by Jerome Armstrong 2007-01-25 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

In primaries, or also general elections? If the latter, would this violate Bowers's rules for progressives?

However, your comment does seem the most effective response ... if anyone has a handle of the good, bad, and worse of the 600 consultants. Hard to know where to draw the line with consultants to be, well, blacklisted, too. A series of failed campaigns isn't enough. The percentage of money taken in fees? I dunno. This seems a useful and obvious approach, but I'm not sure how the details would look.

And it only addresses half the problem: de-funding the assholes. We also have to fund the good guys. I gave a good amount of money in 2006 to candidates, but nothing to blogs and bloggers. The question is, how do you get people like me to fund Bowers's health insurance? I make the phone calls Bowers tells me (on the Use It Or Lose It campaign, for example), I write letters and send emails, and donate thousands to candidates in distant states, based on information from this (and other, but mostly this) blog. Yet I don't give a cent to actually support the blog itself. We shouldn't need to whine about the big progressive donors: taken as a whole, we're huge. But how do we incentivize action as a whole?

by BingoL 2007-01-25 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

What are the logistics (and ethics) of creating a system that allows X% of BlocPAC or netroots donations to be moved to a fund just for this purpose?

If the consultants get their cut - and an outrageously large one at that - why can't we build the infrastructure to make sure people like Chris and Matt can live without fear of breaking an arm or an old age in poverty?

I'm sure a system we designed would be much more egalitarian and transparent.

by Mike Connery 2007-01-25 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I think you're right on, Jerome. And then to use the 'saved' dough to contribute to BlogPac or something similar. The point is to direct contributions to where it's most effective, especially long-term.

by Sun Tzu 2007-01-25 10:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I call this the Bob Shrum rule and wrote a diary about it at Dkos.  I'm not giving money to any campaign that continues to pay its consultants (the same old consultants) the way they always have.

After this week and the article on Mark Penn, I would of course amend it to be the Shrum Penn Rule.

How does TMP do it?  We know Kos makes money because of the site's large audience.   Obviously that isn't going to happen to most sites.  He was first.  And like Microsoft, he isn't giving up that spot anytime soon.    How does Josh Marshall do it?  He seems to have a staff of people and office space in NYC.  Is he doing Kos-like volume?  

One thing is for sure, bloggers don't ask for money nearly as much as candidates or even other progressive activists.   I currently give $25 a month to both the Working Families Party and Citizen's Action.  Why?  Partially because they are doing great work on local political issues but also because they ask.  And invite me to a lot of fundraisers.  And call me a lot.  Maybe you need to be much more agressive.   Sure it sucks to ask and be asked.  But people respond.

I think there is a real perception issue.  That if people give money to Matt and Chris that you might spend it on beer.  Meanwhile the reality is you might be able to get yourself some health insurance.  At the same time people are donating money like mad to Edwards and Obama and those people have serious money on a personal level and a campaign level and are spending obscene amounts on consultants.  And you can be damn sure that the consultants are spending it on some very nice meals and beer for themselves.  Imagine what MYDD could do with a million bucks?   Now, imagine what either of those candidate's campaigns could do.   Personally I think the return on investment for people who believe in progressive politics would be far greater if the dollars went to the people doing the great work.   Would I be upset if I gave money to TPM and MYDD and then found out Bowers was getting $400 haircuts (I doubt they'd charge marshall that much even if he wanted to) or that Marshall has just gotten a sweet new office for his staff in NYC.   I might be.  But, guess what, the politicians and their consultants are already doing all that.  And no on seems to mind.  

by onemadson 2007-05-02 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

As a long-term building kinda guy. And an activist. And, yes, a consultant.

I'm one of the rare examples of a grassroots activist who actually got paid as a consultant to develop Jerry McNerney's website.  I think it was a real win for Jerry to actually have his site designed by someone who gave a shit if he won or lost.

So I burned the midnight oil and developed innovative tools on that site - at breakneck speed - which I'd like to continue to develop and refine for the use of grassroots organizations and future candidates.

For example, I built a really easy-to-use volunteer management system to allow volunteers to sign up for specific needed tasks... and allowed organizers to easily contact them. I built a dynamic fundraising meter (like the Dean bat) that instantly registered donations.

I've also developed web tools for MoveOn.org and have licensed tools to LinkTV, OneList.org, and NAACP.org.  I did a site redesign for the Northwest Progressive Institute (and maybe one day they'll even deploy it...)

I offer them all significantly discounted rates... way below what corporate America would pay for the same services... because a) I want them to have these tools and 2) because they're not used to paying retail prices.

As a result, every hour I spend working on behalf of the angels directly translates into radically decreased income. Of course I feel privileged to help the cause. On the other hand, I'm not socking anything away for retirement.

I've got requirements and specifications for new tools that would vastly facilitate the mundane tasks that bedevil our grassroots organizers, everywhere. These are based on my own experience as a grassroots organizer... and as a professional software architect.  And it's a little like having a cure for cancer that can't be patented... so the drug companies aren't interested: I'm just not finding funds available for that kind of infrastructure building.  

It'd be nice to have some of these tools ready to deploy by 2008, but my guess is that the money won't be there unless and until I'm working for a candidate under extreme time pressure... and only a fraction of what's needed will be able to get built.  It's depressing to think that forward progress on this front may only happen in punctuated evolution every two years.

by Malacandra 2007-01-25 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Luckily, I was able to do some paid database work on the campaign of a Progressive for a county level race.  Unluckily, I was paid slightly more than minimum wage but much less than even the canvassers.  Luckily it helped me ride out a long period of unemployment due to guestworkering and offshoring.

Unluckily they brought me in only a few months before election day, far too little time to develop a genuine database like they needed.  And so it is with all campaigns, they need to bring in the techies years before crunch time, not months before.  

Candidates need voter databases, which are costly and currently not nearly up to the standards of the other side.  They need donor databases to follow election regulations, but those are even more costly.  We could be getting some of that, offering better quality for a good price (as you have obviously done).

To do it, we likely need to do it on our own and then offer it when the candidates are finally ready to think about it (unless we can find candidates who are both Liberals and tech savvy).

There are huge numbers of unemployed and underemployed tech folks out there who would be glad to help out someone who would help stop the flood of guestwork and offshoring that is killing our careers...

by numen 2007-06-21 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Jerome - who do you propose writes this code? What do you think it should include?

Find out more about Mitch McConnell's new 2007 ticket of corruption featuring Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover

by kynetroots 2007-01-25 09:11AM | 0 recs
liberal entrepreneurship

i was actually planning a whole series of posts on this for february.  life has been kinda nutty for the last month or so, which is why i haven't had a chance to do it yet.  funny how that happens.

my basic take is that liberal entrepreneurship will be a major, if not dominating, source of progressive funding in the near future. businesses whose goal is building liberalism, or which more or less dovetails with the movement, will be able to provide a major source of good paying jobs to liberals and perhaps some donations to liberal
organizations.

i've been laying the framework for this in a very piecemeal way on my blog for the past few months, but i believe there are any number of ideas out there waiting to take flight and which could support our movement:

- a "liberals guide to your city" which orients newly-arrived liberals to "the scene" in your city; it could be sustainable if enough organic
grocers, small coffeeshops, and similar businesses decide to advertise

- a freelancer's network which allows campaigns to post small gigs (5 hours of graphic design, say) and out-of-work liberals to find work and get paid for it.  it could be sustainable by taking a small
percentage off the top, assuming the gigs were large enough and there were enough of them.

- a progressive book club which offers liberals a chance to buy books (or movies, or even cds) with a liberal message at a discount via bulk purchasing.  the profit model is clearly laid out in the way bmg and columbia are run, and the main obstacle to sustainability is volume (of
subscribers and books).  such a club is already in existence, in theory, but it has been defunct since 2004 (if such a word can be used to describe an organization which never launched in the first place).

- a network of music clubs which support  independent and expressly political music.  the sustainability model is based on beer and ticket
sales, of course.  the founders of  futuremajority.com, in fact, had a business plan for exactly such a club in philadelphia a year or two ago; it sadly is still on the shelf because of a lack of vc funding.

- a web development shop for liberal campaigns and organizations.  in the form of echo ditto, blue state digital, and dozens of others, this
idea is already being carried out and is doing quite well; i consider these shops a fore-runner of other entrepreneurial ventures.

and here's one more to answer your specific concerns on this post:

- a web site which offers a way to "grade" democratic consultants, and to cross-reference that information with the campaigns which those consultants are working for.  the goal would be, eventually, to force democratic candidates to get good grades on that site in order to earn netroots money.  grades could be compiled in any number of ways, including ratings from registered users, research on the amount spent on media, the performance of the candidates, etc.  sustainability would be provided by a small posting fee from the consultants.

i am hoping to really get such efforts off the gound somewhere in the next 3 - 6 months, with a kind of liberal incubator organization.  we'll see how that goes!

by Shai Sachs 2007-01-25 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: liberal entrepreneurship

- a network of music clubs which support  independent and expressly political music.  the sustainability model is based on beer and ticket
sales, of course.  the founders of  futuremajority.com, in fact, had a business plan for exactly such a club in philadelphia a year or two ago; it sadly is still on the shelf because of a lack of vc funding.

Thanks for the shout out for our business plan! Just wanted to clear up two things here. First, the proposal that we put forth isn't about building clubs where the music itself is expressly political. Rather, we propose making a space that is primarily cultural, but where politics is nurtured and encouraged right along side of it. To put it another way: it is the social space and the connections made within that space that are political, not necessarily the music (or at least not explicitly).

Second, the reason that it didn't happened wasn't due to a total lack of vc funding. Rather, it took us much longer to get everything in order to raise the funds than we expected, and by the time that we did, the location we had modeled the business upon was taken off the market. This is one of the big problem, imo: there aren't a lot of resources out there (other than those you can make through your own personal connections) that can assist liberal startups. I had no idea going in how hard it would be to create a business plan that would be acceptable to vcs, and I also had no idea about securities laws and such.

At any rate, thanks again for the shout out, and I obviously agree that creating "progressive" businesses or symbiotic relationships with existing businesses is the way to go.

by Alex Urevick 2007-01-25 09:49AM | 0 recs
Re: liberal entrepreneurship

whoops - sorry for misstating some of the basic facts there.  i should have done my research. :)  but i applaud both of you for putting that plan together, even if it didn't quite come together.  the real world has a bothersome way of intruding on good plans, doesn't it?

at the end of the day, i think liberal businesses are going to become increasingly strong bulwarks of a liberal movement.  in fact you could go quite a ways back and see the strains of this idea.  move on was founded on the back of the "After Dark" screen saver fortune.  DailyKos grew from a tiny hobbyist blog to a decent-sized self-sustaining media empire.  ActBlue is, i think, sustainable, or close to it, at this point.

if things really do pan out as i expect they will, then we will look back and see a conservative movement that was built on essentially a small-scale welfare state funded by some wealthy donors, and a liberal movement built on small businesses and the first principals of capitalism.  the irony is delicious.

by Shai Sachs 2007-01-25 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: liberal entrepreneurship-MyDD Endowment Fund?

It pains me to see the blogger vanguard of the progressive revolution struggling financially and even dying prematurely and unnecessarily (like Maria Leavey) because of lack of adequate income and health insurance.

Here's a proposal that leverages sound investment principles and the inclination and capability of successful entrepreneurs and investors to fund worthwhile causes.

Why doesn't MyDD create a MyDD Endowment Fund? The fund would invest its money in non-predatory, progressive business enterprises and use its earnings to fund any progressive activity that the directors of the fund decide to fund.

Such a vehicle, ie an endowment fund, would attract capital from entrepreneurs and investors who want to make sure that their wealth retains its value and generates more wealth, rather than get frittered away in small projects.

I do not pretend to be an expert in this area but I know that endowment funds are one of the primary vehicles that universities use to encourage their alumni to donate large sums of money. People who have earned their money the hard way do not want to see it poured down a bottomless pit of overhead, salaries, etc. They prefer to put it into an endowment where it will be re-invested and where the earnings of the investments can be invested in anything the university wants to spend it on.

Also, small donors could also contribute to a MyDD Endownment Fund, so that along with the big ticket donations it could become an umbrella financial pillar of the efforts of the whole MyDD vanguard and extended community of progressive worker bees.

I am not familiar with laws governing endowments but I intuit from the little I know that they could be made to put efforts like MyDD on a firm financial footing and spare them from having to hold bake sales and beg for money for loyal progressives who put their careers, livelihoods and health on the line for the cause.

by Nancy Bordier 2007-01-25 05:38PM | 0 recs
Steve Gilliard has made this point over and again

In 2006, plenty of people could have saved time by mailing their contributions directly to local television affiliates and media consultants.

The right has Wingnut Welfare to keep its people fed, clothed and treated when they're sick. Places like the AEI pick up the tab for office space and resources.

So, where are the paid, or at least entirely supported internships? The grants? The scholarships? The foundations? Blogging is often literally a one-person operation that can be stopped in its tracks by illness or unexpected circumstances.

by etagloh 2007-01-25 09:47AM | 0 recs
A small set-aside for infrastructure

I suggest that a small "tax" or "set-aside" be levied on political donations through blogs (maybe 3% or less) to be used explicitly for infrastructure and community building. Maybe donors could have a choice of donation URLs, one taxed and one not. If folks know where the money will go and what it will buy, I suspect that many would accept a set-aside. I sure would since I don't know any other way to support these infrastructure goals.

by Iowan 2007-01-25 09:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I feel very strongly about this.  I love the netroots machinery and want to keep it not only running, but well greased.  I decided to write a letter asking for support, and hope that you'll check it out in my diary and respond here: http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/1/25/1457 24/355

by John Nicosia 2007-01-25 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

While I sympathize with you and support you, and can't help but wonder if you're asking for a bite of the forbidden fruit.

by nstrauss 2007-01-25 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
Ummm... the forbidden fruit? Do you mean money, or apples? Because I like both.

It could be a problem that many progressives consider money the forbidden fruit.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:11AM | 0 recs
They probably do.

Was it Larry Flynt who said that the common assumptions were wrong, that Democratic pols were the ones corrupted by money while the GOPers were more into sexual shenanigans?  Pretty obvious correlation there.

by latts 2007-01-25 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: They probably do.

GOP activists aren't corrupted by money; they already share a common POV with the corporations and the well-to-do, which is why they're willing to support the activists to begin with.  From the POV of the corporatist elite, funding right-wing activism is an investment with an expected monetary payoff.

And it's why we've got to come up with a completely different model on the left.  We have our occasional rich donors, but they're NOT seeing our infrastructure as something that will yield a payoff; they're looking at this as altruism, which is why they're only paying ramen-noodles salaries.

The money for supporting the infrastructure really has to come from us small to midsize donors, in some natural fashion.  

Perhaps it's time that contributions through ActBlue automatically took tips out to support (a) ActBlue itself, and (b) the donor's choice of a number of lefty netroots endeavors.

I think as long as the automatic tip doesn't go over 5%, IMHO it won't slow down much the flow of contributions.  

by RT 2007-01-25 11:34PM | 0 recs
Re: They probably do.

I want to add (especially in response to Max Sawicky's comments) that we wouldn't even be having this conversation if the netroots hadn't already established that they were making a difference.  If 2006 had been a repeat of 2004, nobody would have had any interest in funding bloggers.  

The targeting of second- and third-tier races by the assorted activist sites wouldn't have meant diddly unless we'd given the money to enable a bunch of those races to become competitive, including getting some winners out of the deal.

So yeah, we funded a lot of the usual run of consultants and ad agencies and whatnot this time.  It's what it took to get us on the map.  Now that the lefty netroots have established that they're a player, there's a strong case that money ought to flow to sites that have been making a difference.

by RT 2007-01-25 11:47PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Be careful about whom you accept money from and the promises you make. Accept it from the establishment, and the establishment might buy some influence over you.

It's just a thought.

by nstrauss 2007-01-25 12:27PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

It's funny you should mention this - I was thinking about some related issues this morning. One basic thing that I've often tossed over in my head is a netroots charity - an organized way to provide emergency support to bloggers in need, and perhaps to do some "good works" such as Katrina relief or what have you.

In light of this post, I may have to think a little harder about that idea. It's not an immediate answer to the problem you've named, but it is something worthwhile.

by pastordan 2007-01-25 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money
Feel free to contact me anytime you get an idea. We are going to work on this pretty hard from now on.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

It's important to divert some of this money to create and enhance progressive institutions, just as the right wing has done so successfully. Think-tanks, nonprofit advocacy groups, and other institutions can promote ideas by doing studies, research and investigation and publishing these ideas in journals, op-eds, blogs, news outlets.  The right-wing has done a masterful job of creating a web of organizations and people to promote poppycock and we need to put some of our money into promoting more reasonable ideas and creating respected sources of opinion, rather than wasting so much of our money on political media consultants and poorly written political advertising.

by tyva 2007-01-25 10:32AM | 0 recs
Aggressive marketing w/ Ads

I think blogs should have a strong marketing arm.

With the market niche of blogs (informed fairly upper middle class of the coveted 25-50 yo range),  many companies would benefit to advertise here esp.

Cable news channel, Air America, Blue companies--like Costco, Volvo, Starbucks,  Google, bookstores,  Universities, online universities,  issue groups,  authors with books,  etc.

How about reviving--book reviews--specially of new books?

by jasmine 2007-01-25 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Aggressive marketing w/ Ads
Marketing is expensive. but that would be nice.
by Chris Bowers 2007-01-25 11:14AM | 0 recs
Atrios has often said

That the right has long funded their network of 'independant' media and think tanks to shape the conversation over the long haul; to get 'experts' on TV; to provide outlets for policy initiatives; for conferences, etc.

While the left has been building up it's network, far too often they are dominated by insiders, former White House staffers, ex-official, etc.  Even the good ones.

Where are the organizations that represent us?  While I know that many exist, it seems they exist often as websites and incorporation paperwork at the State House.  

I think we need a few more brick and mortar places and events.  YearlyKos was a tremendous success, and real!  You could go there, shake hands, meet real people...

Part of the genesis of the netroots is the low cost of entry, but sometimes 'movin' on up' is necessary to prove your legs, your permanence.  Right now, many of the great people in the netroots could close up shop (not that they would) and be gone virtually overnight.

While I'm not suggesting that every progressive institution needs a HQ with columns and a statue of Markos out front, a monthly meetup or a weekly gathering of Drinking Liberally seems a little unprofessional, amatuerish even.

I'd say this netroots thing-at least the influential part of it-is at or approaching five years old.  Where do we go from here?  Are we going to be primarily a fund raising/fact checking tool, or are we going to help shape the conversation?  Are we going to introduce college courses to teach what we've learned?  what we believe?  Will candidates and elected officials run on policies we endorse and recommend?  If so, who?

Duncan (Atrios) wrote a post today listing some books which cover media coverage of politics and politicians from the Regean years on forward.  I sent a copy of that to my sister-in-law who teaches journalism at NYU.  I told her there's a story there:  it could be a college course, it could be some students masters thesis, etc.  But at some point someone needs to start taking these thoughts and expanding upon them.  C'mon Jay Rosen is at NYU and he and Duncan both just spoke at the National Conference for Media Reform.  

That's great and important, but until these conversations get into general public, whether at college or at civic associations or at the corner pub, our return on investment is limited...

by lutton 2007-01-25 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Atrios has often said

Jay is actually on leave right now to work on setting up NewAssignment.net, but yeah the point holds true.  

On a side note, Jay is still working on funding for that right now.

by juls 2007-01-25 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

How about starting a long-term financial instrument. I am thinking of mutual fund or perhaps even a hedge fund, if you can legally set one up that the general public can buy into instead of just accredited investors. One that would invest no less than 90% of its holdings in profitable progressive or neutral Buy Blue publicly held companies, or companies that the progressive community may have an interest in, like solar power companies. Something where your money is an investment rather than a donation, and 90% of what would be a dividend in other funds would go towards funding bloggers and progressive institutions and infrastructure, with the rest being reinvested for continued growth. Assuming that the fund was keeps ahead of inflation and is profitable, you'd get your money back, adjusted for inflation, when you cash out, plus a tiny bit extra.

by smd 2007-01-25 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

The problem I've noticed that was especially problematic is there needs to be some clear leadership in the way money is directed. The party the Dnc the Dccc etc more or less manipluated progressive donors to donate to their candidates, on websites like actblue. With more or less well writen fundraising letters, and using the pile on effect to get people to donate to the candidates that they want them to.

by orin76 2007-01-25 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

I think it goes farther than this though Chris.

There are all sorts of good government groups and issue advocay groups that are well established. But are the staff being taken care of?

My point is that even when and where there are progressive jobs to be had they are:

1. few and far between

  1. not well paid
  2. provide no career path
  3. or financial incentive to stay involved

Further,

One of things going on in the netroots and supporting portions of the grassroots is the urging and desire for people to get further involved in politics.

How are they/we to do that? If you are young and fresh out of school and pretty much any old paying job will do then great! Internships for next to nothing and entry level jobs are available to some of you. If you like it a lot then mid-level jobs paying entry level wages are available to you.

If you are a bit older and have greater financial responsiblities (families, homes, health issues, whatever) then there is no room for you at all. If you want to take the skills you've learned in one field and re-apply them to politics but can't afford to start over at entry level wages then you are just plain shit out of luck.

Lots of great talent with no opportunity to apply it in an area that needs that experienced talent.

by Andrew C White 2007-01-25 02:42PM | 0 recs
You've convinced me

I treasure MYDD as a resource. I think your BlogPAC is a step in the right direction- but the netroots has to be more than an ATM for candidates run by dedicated volunteers. Well I wish I had a better idea on how we can take care of our movement (which is what the 60's Left failed to do and we have reaped the results).

I will say that I didn't actually understand what BlogPAC was for until you explained it. IMO people like you and Matt should be able to make a comfortable living with all the work and analysis you provide for the progressive ecosystem.

by alarabi7 2007-01-25 02:53PM | 0 recs
Mike Jones, another gay American hero

Mike Jones, the escort who outed Rev. Ted "Meth Head" Haggard is also struggling financially and legally. Dan Savage writes:

"I've been in contact with Mike over the last week. He tells me that the major gay rights organizations have extended nothing but ten-foot poles. He is unemployed and I imagine that for at least the short future, he is unemployable. He is facing the potential of huge legal bills. He has received death threats from Haggard's followers and other peace-loving Christians.

Gentle readers, you and I owe Mike Jones a debt of gratitude. It's a different country than it was seven days ago, and even if you think that Mike Jones had only the tiniest part in effecting that change, we OWE him. Remember those last two Senate seats were decided by just a few thousand votes each.

So please, show your thanks.

Go to PayPal's Send Money screen and throw some love to our unlikely hero, using his email account: "massageandmuscle@aol.com"

Send him the $10 you would have spent buying him drinks, if you ran into him in a bar. Send him the $20 you would have spent buying his dinner in a restaurant."

http://thestranger.com/blog/2006/11/mike _jones_gay_ameri

by nonwhiteperson 2007-02-01 07:59PM | 0 recs
BlogPac Visa Cards?

I know that the DNC and my State party in Nebraska both have Visa cards you can purchase with where .5% of all purchases go back to the party.  

I have always been leery of them, but they seem like a pretty simple way to help raise money.  

Especially since Blogs' biggest resource are their vast readerships... it might be an easy way to engage readers in a simple financially sustainable way.  

by johnowens2 2007-05-02 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: The One-Way Flow Of Progressive Movement Money

Tell them to only hire fundraising organizations that provide their grunts with a living wage.

I love you...

by Endymion 2007-05-02 09:57PM | 0 recs
by jgalagger 2007-06-26 07:55AM | 0 recs

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