Big Money, Big Protest, Big Muscle: Obama's New Left-Wing Political Machine

Big Money, Big Protest, Big Muscle: Obama's New Left-Wing Political Machine

While Republicans contemplate how to improve their party’s political performance at the Republican National Committee (RNC) winter meeting, which opens today, Democrats are already taking politics to a new level, creating parallel organizations to advocate for President Barack Obama’s agenda and using their political clout to rearrange private business relationships to their liking. American politics has never seen anything like it.

Politico reports today that major donors–including billionaire George Soros (above), bailout beneficiary Citi and others–were approached by Obama campaign veterans to donate millions to Organizng for America, the president’s new 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy group. Under the tax code, 501(c)4 groups do not have to disclose their donors–a provision, ironically, that President Obama spent years campaigning against.

They justify the contradiction by insisting their money is for “good government,”, while money raised by conservative groups is “poision,” according to Obama bundler Alan Solow, quoted by Politico. Still, the organizers maintain the pretense of involving small donors rather than highlighting the large checks that fund existing groups such as Media Matters and Center for American Progress to the tune of $60 million per year, combined.

In addition to Organizing for America, the left has already welcomed another new left-wing organization, the Democracy Initiative, which brings several activist and lobby groups together to agitate for their policy priorities. The Democracy Initiative builds on previous efforts, such as Health Care for America now, which worked with the Obama administration in 2009 to organize demonstrations in support of his heath reform law.

Mother Jones reported earlier this month that the idea for the Democracy Initiative had grown out of conversations between Greenpeace’s Phil Radford, the NAACP’s Ben Jealous, and the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune. They agreed to campaign for “three goals: getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation.” 

The Democracy Initiative was partially thwarted–for now–in its attempt to reform the filibuster when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid agreed to a set of modest changes with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday. The campaign, however, will continue. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club announced its own, independent effort to stop the Keystone Pipeline, which will for the first time use civil disobedience to demonstrate its outrage.

In addition to these new organizing efforts, the left is using political clout it has already won in new ways, applying direct pressure to businesses in order to encourage them to fall in line behind Democrats’ political priorities. Chicago mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, for instance, is pressuring banks to stop loaning money to gun manufacturers unless those companies support new gun controls.

Since taking office in 2011, Emanuel has failed to the Chicago murder rate, which has surged in spite of restrictive gun control laws. But where his government has failed, his heavy-handed politics may succeed–at least in helping pass further gun controls. 

Blinded by its persistent, contrived nightmares about Republicans stealing elections, the left may not yet fully understand what it is becoming: big money, big protest, and big muscle.

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