Mara Liasson of NPR reports on building a progressive movement.
Democrats and the progressive groups that support them have for years looked with envy at the political infrastructure built by conservatives. What they saw was a disciplined apparatus of foundations, think tanks, media outlets and advocacy groups working together to advance a right-wing agenda.
Now, liberal groups have developed a whole new infrastructure of their own â€” call it the vast, left-wing conspiracy. …
… In the past four years, dozens of new, progressive think tanks, media watchdog groups, publications and grass-roots organizations have been created to amplify the Democrats’ message, and, perhaps, more importantly, oppose the policies of the Bush administration.
I cannot stress how important this is. Right-wing extremism didn’t come to dominate American politics by accident. It happened because many years ago a cadre of wealthy right wingers built a huge infrastructure to muscle everyone else out of the way. This infrastructure not only allows the Right to dominate our national political debates; it also mentors and develops “talent” so that there are always plenty of presentable spokespeople for the Cause who don’t have to get day jobs.
Parts of the new progressive infrastructure you’ve heard of — Moveon.org, Media Matters for America, Center for American Progress. Here in New York, there’s the Drum Major Institute, which is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to fueling progressive ideas. This Thursday, June 21, DMI is holding its annual benefit at Cipriani 23rd Street. This year’s honorees are NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Tavis Smiley.
Last year’s party was a blast, although it’s a bittersweet memory now because Steve Gilliard was there.
Anyway, I appreciate DMI because it focuses on the basic progressive issues that sometimes get lost in the struggle over the war in Iraq — labor, health care, education, progressive immigration policy, etc. The war in Iraq will end, someday, one way or another; but domestic issues are forever. Or at least will be around as long as we’re around. They also provide support and training for area activists through fellowships and internships.
I invite you to cruise around the DMI web site to see what they do. Buy a ticket to the benefit or make a donation if you can. You may be tired of being hit up for money (I need some too, btw). But the fact is that taking back America requires hard work and infrastructure.