Support Your Local Progressive Infrastructure

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 — 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 —, 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.

10 thoughts on “Support Your Local Progressive Infrastructure

  1. Maha, even though you are undoubtedly correct about the formal needs for sounder party infrastructure, rank and file Democrats are increasingly discouraged by things like Nancy Pelosi pre-emptively saying that impeachment is off the table and the recent folding on the war funding bill. National level democrats are so deathly afraid of being accused of being “shrill” or partisan” by the tv news people, they seem to allow this fear to guide them again and again.

  2. …rank and file Democrats are increasingly discouraged by things like Nancy Pelosi pre-emptively saying that impeachment is off the table and the recent folding on the war funding bill…

    Shrewd investors know that the best time to buy a stock is when it’s in the toilet, and they also know that this is precisely when it is psychologically most difficult to do so. This style of investing is known as contrarianism, and it is psychologically difficult.

    In similar fashion, Republicans of yore invested heavily in party infrastructure back when it looked like Goldwater was an idiot, their party was hopelessly out of favor and had been for decades, and that Liberalism would surely rule Forever.

    We must do the same, even though it is psychologically difficult for us rank and file to do so at the present time, precisely because the Democratic Congress presently looks like bumbling idiots and we fear Conservativism will rule forever.

  3. Jonathan — DMI is not an affiliate of the Democratic Party, so I don’t quite know why anything Nancy Pelosi says would prevent one from supporting DMI. DMI is about supporting PROGRESSIVE domestic policies and working with whatever politicians of either party are supporting them.

    However, let me remind everyone that the point of working with Democrats is to EVENTUALLY make them more responsive to our ideas and values. Before the 2006 midterms I wrote one post after another saying that the problems with the Dems would not be fixed by one election, but obtaining a Democratic Party majority was an essential first baby step toward fixing those problems.

    Just over six months ago the new Congress began with a very small Dem majority. Now people are saying “the Dems still aren’t the party I want them to be, so let’s give up.”

    But the political culture has been screwed up for several years. In truth, it seems we barely got the Vietnam/Watergate era over with before the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy took hold when Reagan became President. That’s a long time. This is not going to get fixed overnight.

    If we’re going to fix the political problems and heal the political culture in this nation, there is no choice but to take over one of the two major parties and use them to enact our agenda. The other party is spoken for, so Dems are all we’ve got. (I assume I don’t have to give you the lecture about why third parties are for losers.)

  4. We had a Pastor who used to say, “you give where you get feed”. That would apply to the Mahablog.

    Your hard work is appreciated. I heard your appeal.

  5. Oh, is that supposed to be fed not feed? Damn English language! Why can’t we make Spanish our national language and we could eliminate all the spelling confusion.

    The past tense of read is read, not red, right?

  6. Feed, fed, read, red: To me it is just as incorrect for us “liberals” to expound on the “Right-wing extremism” as it is for the right to use “liberal” as a dirty word. At some point we end up with right and wrong. Most of us can figure it out in the end. That’s why we read the “mahablog”

    How about some hillbilly haiku:

    Hillbilly Haiku#8

    The 4 P’s: Productivity, Profits, Promises, Promotion.

    Productivity = No more being comfortable

    As soon as you get comfortable, we will find someone more productive.

    Profits= A goal that can always be exceeded.

    Just when you think you are profitable, it most likely won’t be enough.

    Promises= If you have attempted to be productive and profitable,

    You may have promised too much, depends who you work for.

    All of the above are good reasons to either quit the job you have now, or ask for a promotion.

  7. Sorry, Dearest Maha…

    But it’s been a real tough year in the “Kept Man” business…

    (Still workin at it, though…)

  8. To me it is just as incorrect for us “liberals” to expound on the “Right-wing extremism” as it is for the right to use “liberal” as a dirty word.

    I disagree strongly. Radical ideology is the major cause of the really bad stuff going on in the world today. The Middle East is in turmoil because of Islamic extremism, and there are plenty of people in this country who are determined to drag America down the same path for the sake of their own brand of extremism. Holding one’s tongue (or keyboarding fingers, as it were) about extremism for the sake of some half-assed notion of “fairness” or “balance” or “tolerance” amounts to stepping aside and letting wolves eat your children.

  9. BTW, haiku have three lines only.

    To right good haiku
    means being in a moment
    as fleeting as this.

    I don’t insist on the five-seven-five syllable pattern, because I think it’s awkward in English, although I use it if I can make it work. What makes haiku distinctive is using the three-line pattern to capture a moment in time.

  10. Maha,

    You got me on a technicality with the Haiku, but mine was a “hillbilly haiku”, no such rules.

    As far as radical ideology, I agree with you 100%, all I’m saying is when will the back and forth ever end, at some point somebody has to be the bigger person. Haven’t you ever let someone win while they were losing just to get it over with?

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