I voted for Bill Bradley in 2000 because I thought he got it more than Gore, and was less susceptible to predictable Republican attacks on the Vice President (mainly, he's boring, he's a know-it-all, he's a braggart). It's hard to put that "wimpy librul" label on the guy who played small forward for the Knicks in the 70s. Today, Bradley writes in The Times about the need for a Democratic infrastructure, in one of the most reasonable, succinct, obvious ways I've seen. It's actually what Howard Dean's been saying since before he got in the DNC chair, but if Dean wrote this article the only thing coming out of it would be how much he "hates Republicans." Bradley is the right guy to put this out there, and it's high time this was made conventional wisdom:
You've probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations - the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance - form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.
The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid - the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there's the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.
At the very top of the pyramid you'll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.
Most people don't have a clue who Richard Mellon Scaife is, or the Olin Foundation, but they should be forced out into the light. It's clear that 2006 will be a reform campaign for Democrats, and the more the electorate knows that 3 or 4 families have been financing the Republican Party for 40 years, making its decisions, constructing its policy, the better.
The Center for American Progress and Media Matters are excellent, and decently financed, but like Bradley say, these things take time. Furthermore, both organizations seem more focused on exposing Republican ideas as rank than pushing any ideas of their own. There's a place for that, but there also needs to be a message creation and advocacy arm to all of this. Bradley also omits the blogosphere, which plays neatly into the level of the pyramid between the research centers and the partisan media. We're doing what we can, but Bradley is dead on that ALL of these parts must be bolstered and made seamless. It's a 40-year process for the Democratic Party, and I'm confident that enough of the right people are recognizing what needs to be done that America in 2044 will look far diffrent. But I'm glad Bradley has chosen to voice this right out in the open rather than behind closed doors.