Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
Earlier today Taylor wrote about the Democracy Alliance decision that dropped certain progressive groups. It so happened that I’d focused on the same thing today. We do that occasionally. Maybe it’s a liberal thing.
Anyway, check out Taylor’s piece. You can see the breaking story by Ryan Grim at HuffPo.
David Dayen at FireDogLake wrote about the DA decision:
I would argue that de-funding outside groups has been uniquely unhelpful to the progressive movement over the past few years. So here they go again.
I’d take another step in considering the DA decision. I agree with Dayen about the “here they go again” responsibility of those making decisions to dump and de-fund progressive groups “outside” the Democratic Party’s dominating influence. But I think that can be expanded. It’s kind of like kids at the stage in their development when they love knowing what’s going to happen because, in part, it gives them a sense of power and control, and so they request “Do that again!” That’s basically what the electorate, in general, tells the Duopoly, with every election: “Do that again!” The DA decision, it seems to me, is geared toward that same end.
The Democracy Alliance describes itself:
We are a first-of-its-kind partnership of changemakers who are committed to a stronger democracy and a more progressive America.
Launched in 2005, the Democracy Alliance (DA) was created to build progressive infrastructure that could help counter the well-funded and sophisticated conservative apparatus in the areas of civic engagement, leadership, media, and ideas.
DA does not directly fund progressive groups, but through two annual conferences, among other things, make connections between donors and organizations.
“Changemakers” is an interesting term. But how much “change” can take place when your decisions basically maintain the status quo? How much “change” can happen when voters keep telling Wannabe’s and Electeds, “Do that again!”
According to Dayen:
The Democracy Alliance came about as a way to replicate the culture of donating to movement infrastructure on the right. Through a roundabout process, members of the Democracy Alliance come together to hear presentations and support different progressive organizations.
Grim’s “Democracy Alliance Dumps Progressive Organizations” includes:
The donor network has long faced tension over how to build a progressive movement and bring about social change, particularly over whether to focus on electing Democrats in the next cycle or building lasting infrastructure. The group has faced particularly acute friction over deciding if it should devote funds to President Obama’s reelection or invest in more long-term projects.
Among those who support the creation of a progressive infrastructure, there is heavy debate over whether to fund organizations closely aligned with the Democratic Party or those that operating outside it and pressuring it to move in a more progressive direction.
The groups dropped by the Democracy Alliance tend to be those that work outside the party’s structure. Groups with closer ties to the party, such as the Center for American Progress and Media Matters, retained their status with the Democracy Alliance as favored organizations.
Included among those dropped by DA are Brave New Foundation (Robert Greenwald), Citizen Engagement Lab (James Rucker), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW, with Melanie Sloan), NDN (Simon Rosenberg), Third Way, the Center for Progressive Leadership, the Advancement Project, Democracia, and Free Press.
According to Grim,
Groups working on issues relating directly to people of color appear to be the most dramatically affected.
America Votes, which works on electing Democrats, was retained, as were the Center for Community Change, Progressive Majority and the New Organizing Institute. …
Read Grim’s article for details about what the “dumped” organizations are accomplishing.
An official at DA explained the changes:
‘The recent decisions were part of a natural funding cycle that all philanthropic organizations go through.’ …
And the fact that we’re well into the 2012 version of “Do that again!” two party politics has nothing to do with it? From a now former DA member of the donor network:
… Deborah Sagner … said that the decision was in line with the group’s unfortunate drift toward supporting only groups closely allied to the Democratic Party. …
Why, many may be asking, haven’t we heard much about Democracy Alliance? Grim writes:
The Democracy Alliance maintains a low profile by forbidding recipients from talking publicly about the organization. But former recipients are under no such rules.
He adds this, from CREW’s head, Melanie Sloan:
‘CREW is very appreciative of the Democracy Alliance’s past support. … Still, at a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about the corrupting influence of money in our political system, it is disappointing the group has chosen to focus on other areas.’
All of this reminds me of the “Do that again!” stage of children’s development. There’s a sense of empowerment, of having an impact, when they know what will happen. Of course, that’s about something they enjoy. People saying, via organizational decisions and votes, “Do that again!” to Duopoly Electeds who clearly do not have our best interests in mind isn’t. Or if it is something “enjoyed,” then there’s another, very big problem involved. At some point kids move on to other ways of learning. But when it comes to the Two Party Front for the Oligarchy, there seems to be an insistence that voters keep saying, “Do that again!” while pretending something has changed.