At least 80 wealthy liberals have pledged to contribute $1 million or more apiece to fund a network of think tanks and advocacy groups to compete with the potent conservative infrastructure built up over the past three decades.
The money will be channeled through a new partnership called the Democracy Alliance, which was founded last spring — the latest in a series of liberal initiatives as the Democratic Party and its allies continue to struggle with the loss of the House and the Senate in 1994 and the presidency in 2000. Many influential Democratic contributors were left angry and despairing over the party’s poor showing in last year’s elections, and are looking for what they hope will be more effective ways to invest their support.
Financial commitments totaling at least $80 million over the next five years generated by the Democracy Alliance in recent months — at a time when some liberal groups, such as the George Soros-backed America Coming Together, are floundering — suggest that the group is becoming a player in the long-term effort to reinvigorate the left. The group has a goal of raising $200 million — a sum that would inevitably come in part at the expense of more traditional Democratic groups, although alliance officials say donors have committed to maintaining past contribution levels.
Alliance chairman Steven Gluckstern, a retired investment banker, said that President Bush’s victory over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) last year after millions of dollars had been poured into pro-Democratic “527” groups caused many contributors to think that a dramatically new approach is needed.
“It wasn’t only the failure to win, it was the question ‘What does it take to win?’ ” Gluckstern said. “Among the lessons learned was that to bring back the progressive majority in this country is not just a periodic election investment strategy.”
This might help, but if we learned anything from 2004, when the Democrats raised as much money as the GOP, it isn’t only cash that gets candidates elected. It sure doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t the only thing.