The alliance grew out of a PowerPoint slideshow assembled by Rob Stein, a longtime Democratic operative, who diagramed what Clinton had famously called the "vast right-wing conspiracy." He argued that a handful of rich, conservative families had funded a network of vibrant think tanks and a "message machine" to spread their ideas.But what are we to think of this? "Earlier this month, the alliance announced that John Stocks, executive director of the National Education Association, would become the chairman of its board." We should think, writes Matt Bai, that the Democratic rich billionaires have been captured by the status quo.
The thinking behind the Democracy Alliance was to create a venture capital fund for new progressive groups. (The Center for American Progress and Media Matters for America were two of the charter recipients.) A central tenet of the alliance in those days was that it wanted nothing to do with the Democratic Party or elections, per se. The alliance was about creating a bolder alternative to the status quo.
Actually, I would say that they always were. After all, they have been promoting the received liberal doctrine on things like climate change.
The "handful of rich, conservative families" were always consciously fighting the status quo. The notorious Koch Brothers are not inside players. They are playing an outside game. But coal-billionaire Tom Steyer and his tattooed wife Kat get the kool kat treatment in the SF media. (Did you know that Steyer once invested in coal plants in Indonesia and now he bankrolls campaigns to stop coal exports from Washington State?)
Yeah, right on, Tom and Kat!
But the "rich, conservative families" (interesting how that "families" gets in there) don't expect luvvie coverage. They expect nothing but scorn. They are doing what they do because they want real change; they want to build an adversary culture to found a move away from the educated elite expert-led authoritarian welfare state. I doubt that Democracy Alliance ever imagined doing much more than rearranging the deckchairs, stiffening up a bureaucracy or two with some corporate processes to improve feedback and accountability. I am thinking of something like the Gates Foundation. Good stuff, but still completely within the liberal mindset.
The current rebellion against the status quo, from Koch Brothers to Tea Party to pro-lifers to gun nuts to bitter clingers, may thrive or it may wither. But it is real.
The flutters of reform in the Cathedral like the Democracy Alliance are no more than the ruling class gazing at its navel. Nobody is really thinking of substantive reform. Not yet.