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 contributed $180 million to Democratic candidates for federal office (House, Senate and President). Given both that the progressive netroots are larger than just, 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.

There's more...

The State of the Progressive Movement

On the eve of the State of the Union, I figured it was time to broach a little something about the state of the progressive movement.  The state is fun, but honestly, it's pretty unhealthy.

Here's why.

Though the internet left has raised many millions for candidates, the dirty little secret of progressive activism is that there is literally no support for any of the people who make internet politics work.  Many effective activists don't have health care, and scrap along with whatever they can.  The right has a well-developed infrastructure, and that's why they tend to win.  They take care of their people.  We don't, and so our people quit, or leave, or become consultants, etc.  Now, there are lots of sob stories that are much much worse than anything progressive activists deal with, and that's not my point.  I want to make an argument about strategy, and why we need to reorient our priority towards funding people that make things happen.

This is best illustrated with an example: Lane Hudson.  Lane is the person who moved Mark Foley's scandalous behavior into the national discourse on a blog called Stop Sex Predators.  When it was discovered that he was responsible for pushing Foley into the national news, Lane was fired without severance from his position at the gay rights group where he worked, the Human Rights Campaign.  Were Lane on the right, he would be taken care of and put into a think tank, corporate job, or consulting shop, simply because he had proved that he is an incredibly valuable asset to the movement.  But on our side, though Lane arguably delivered Democrats control of Congress, he is unemployed and struggling to pay his rent.  I don't really need to point out that this is no way to run a movement. 

Lane is a hero and a leader, but he's being treated as refuse.  Think about this for a second.  The incentive baked into the cake if you are a progressive activist or Democrat is that under no circumstances here should you ever take a public risk; you'll sully your name and no one will help you.  Is it any wonder we have a party lacking leadership and built on caution?  

Though you may not realize it, you are helping in a small way to fix this problem.  Chris and I run Blogpac, and Blogpac cut Lane a $2000 check to help tide him over.  Blogpac has raised its money from you, mostly from being included on the netroots page in 2006.  In 2006, we took this money and used it on a few homegrown projects (like Use it Or Lose and Google-bombing the election), but mostly what we did is cut small but useful checks to activists doing great work who couldn't get money from rich people.  You can find a list here, on Blogpac's website.  It includes names you'll recognize, like Drinking Liberally, Blue America PAC, YearlyKos and Bluejersey.  Despite all the work they've done, these groups are just not funded.  As I read articles about a billion dollar Presidential campaign, I'm sickened by these strategically unwise investments.

It doesn't take a billion dollars to make a difference, it takes a smartly deployed and much smaller amount of money to do so.  Blogpac had some money left over from 2006 that we're using to pay Lane.  I'm asking you to help us ensure that we can keep doing so.

Here are the specific details.  Blogpac is trying to raise around $10K this week.  Here's where you can give. We've gotten 49 donations totally slightly above $1400.  We need about 86 more of you to put up $100 to get to $10K.

About half of that is going to go to people like Lane, who really need it and have frankly earned it.  Lane put his name out there, risked his career, lost his job, and arguably delivered us Congress.  He deserves to be able to pay his rent at the very least.  About half of it will go to a 50 state blog network. We think that supporting the local bloggers that deliver us better and higher quality information than the traditional media and operative class is critical to gaining and holding progressie power.  The money is going to go for paying hosting fees and training, though if we can raise more we'll try to channel as much money as possible their way.  $5K doesn't go very far, but it's a start.

We'll keep you up to date with what we're doing on the Blogpac site, and if something especially interesting pops up we'll talk about it here.

So anyway, if you have $100 or another amount to spare, please help out. Over the next two years, many candidates and groups are going to ask you for money and pledge all sorts of things about how they will change the country.  And they aren't lying.  Still, I can pretty much guarantee you that your money will have no greater impact than making sure that this movement continues to have people like Lane Hudson in it.

UPDATE: We're up to 95 donors and $5,293.40. That's 44 new donors giving $80 apiece or so. We only need 47 more people to chip in.

UPDATE: We're up to 106 donors and $5,863.40. Just 41 and 1/2 more.

There's more...

Support The 50 State Blog Network

BlogPac is proud to announce its first campaign of 2007: supporting the 50 state blog network that Laura Packard posted on yesterday. In order to pay for the technical support to this project, we need $10 from 1,000 activists. Join up with 999 other people to make this happen..

The explosion of local blogging was one of the great developments in the progressive movement during 2006. Entering 2007, we want to make certain that there is at least one community blog in every state, they are connected to each other, and that these state-based communities are integrated with the national-focused blogs. This will accelerate the development of local progressive media, assist with important electoral developments such as the fifty-state strategy, as well as increase both the political efficacy and social connections of local progressive activists around the nation. Importantly, we can do this for a small amount of money, $10 from 1,000 activists. When you compare this amount to the hundreds of millions of dollars that are spent on electoral campaigns every two years, this really is a tiny amount--equivalent to the rounding error for a Democratic media consultant! Join up with other activists to make the 50 state blog network happen..

Progressive movement activists have an abundance of good ideas, but often lack the funding to make these ideas a reality. To remedy this situation, over the past eight months, BlogPac's mission has been to provide essential resources to smart and inexpensive (though still underfunded) projects that forward the progressive movement. In keeping with this mission, we have supported organizations such as Yearly Kos, Drinking Liberally, Blue Jersey, and Blue America PAC. During the election season, we provided resources to important activist campaigns like Do More Than Vote, Use It Or Lose It, and Googlebomb the Elections. We also commissioned the first scientific survey of netroots activists, in an attempt to help dispel many of the myths about members of our community. Join us in our latest effort to make a 50 state blog network a reality.

The 50 state blog network is exactly the sort of project that BlogPac is proud to help get off the ground. With just a little bit of funding, we believe that small ideas from smart activists can take the progressive movement a long way. As such, feel free at any time to send us your ideas on new progressive organizations and campaigns that fit with our mission and do not need a huge amount of money in order to succeed. You can reach me at

Make the 50 state blog network a reality.

50 State Blog Network

Please help out with this project. I'll have another announcement about this project soon--Chris

Local community blogs are important. Blogs like Raising Kaine in Virginia helped make the difference for Senator Webb and others this past election. I can speak to that personally, as a part of MichiganLiberal. But what about all the states that don't have a state-based community blog yet? How can a community blog reach a larger audience when they have a big story? Can we help each other to grow?

I'm proud to announce a new project through BlogPac - the 50 State Blog Network. The goal of this project is to produce a strong network of state-based blogs across the country, to help grow their local blogospheres and turn red to blue on a statewide basis.

It starts with a list. See below the cut for the list of state-based lefty community blogs I've compiled. If I'm wrong, or missing somebody, please speak up! You know your local blogs better than I do. We're not picking favorites, just looking for true community-based efforts. Also if you have contact information for any of these blogs, please email me.

What if your state doesn't have a community blog? If you're interested in helping to start one, or you know of a blog that's interested in moving over to a community platform like Scoop or Soapblox, please comment here or email me. I would love to help you get going. More updates later, including how OpenID through can lead to a single signon across multiple blogs. Maybe we can arrange a in-person meeting or conference of state-based bloggers this year too, at the DNC Winter Meeting and/or YearlyKos.

Alabama: None
Alaska: None
Arkansas: None
Delaware: None
Hawaii: None
Kansas: None
Louisiana: None
Maryland*: m/
Mississippi: None
New Hampshire:
New Jersey:
New Mexico*:
New York:
North Carolina:
North Dakota: None
Rhode Island*:
South Carolina:
South Dakota*:
West Virginia*:
Wisconsin:  None
Wyoming: None

* = doesn't allow diaries, but is led by a team as opposed to a sole blogger.


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