Perhaps the best case I’ve seen made for why it is important for you to become an FDL member stems from this recent story about the Democracy Alliance. For those who don’t know, the Democracy Alliance was started by a bunch of rich donors in 2005 to try to build a progressive movement.
For years the Democracy Alliance helped support a whole spectrum of liberal think tanks and organizations. But in a recent big shake up, it decided to drop support for several groups like Brave New Foundation, CREW and Free Press to focus more directly on supporting and electing Democrats. Groups which are not as closely tied to the Democratic party and its exact goals got the ax. On the right, a similar fight about raw politics versus ideology is also currently playing out at the CATO Institute.
This is what can happen to a movement based on the funding of a few very large donors. If you do something that challenges those in power or upsets a few big donors, you can quickly end up unable to operate. You ultimately answer to a few big funders and their allies and not your base supporters and audience.
On occasion, FDL’s goals match up with those of the Democratic party. For example, student loan reform. More often, we find ourselves aggressively fighting against the the Obama administration, as on Bradley Manning, Keystone XL pipeline, protecting Social Security, and trying to stop raids on medical marijuana.
We can choose to work with or directly against those in power because we are working to establish a structure to make us truly independent of outside pressure. By making FDL funded through small donations by our supporters, the only people we ever worry about standing with is our regular members and audience. When FDL thinks about launching a new campaign, our main concern is if it is something our community supports, not what some big donors or party officials thinks.
Our comparatively small FDL community has a long and impressive list of accomplishments over the past few years, because we have this unique freedom to stand up to anyone about anything. This has been both remarkable and inspiring to be part of.
Join me and the rest of the Firedoglake community as we continue to make a difference and accomplish as many worthwhile, independently driven goals as we can in the coming year.