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Starting a Progressive Counterpart to the Neocon

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Starting a Progressive Counterpart to the Neocon's Most Powerful Weapon-- the Policy Creation and Advocacy Think Tank; Join the Grassroots Effort to Build One

Rob Kall

Think of the neocon think tanks as machine guns, spraying neoncon bullets of ideas, persuasion and influence. They’ve been building these “Political Weapons” for over 20 years. The Democrats and the progressive left don’t have a clue. They’re still fighting with bows and arrows. The progressive think tanks (TTs) just don’t do what the right wing think tanks do. The progressive TTs focus on specific issues and work towards advocacy on those issues. They get their funding based on those issues and that keeps the left unfocused, disorganized, without clear, easy to understand policies, which are, more importantly, easy to express, embrace and enthusiastically get behind.

The left is fighting with obsolete weapons. The question is no longer why. Poor leadership, selling out to corporatism and the political middle, failure to see the power and effectiveness, the huge leap in political technology that the neocon think tanks represent all add up to the current situation where the naked, axe bearing cave men are fighting the night-goggled, kevlar-vested marines. It’s that stark a difference and it is time that we do something about it.

There’s been talk that John Podesta, president Clinton’s last chief of staff,  is doing something along these lines, called the American Majority Institute. It was announced last fall. If he is doing it, then it’s VERY low on the radar. Try Googling it, or what is apparently it’s fundraising counterpart, the American Majority Fund, which involved Harold Ickes and Morton H. Halperin. But it is also very low on the radar. In their early stages, that may be where they want to stay for a while.

Even if Podesta, Ickes and Halperin have their funded started and under way, there's still room for, perhaps need for another one. There are at least five major right wing TTs. it will probably be necessary to start at least ten TTs to end up with five strong, effective ones ten years from now.

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Why not start one from the grass roots? The progressive movement is one of the people, not of the powerful. Why not start a progressive TT that is built from the bottom up? Look at what moveon has done from such small beginnings. Already there are a handful of us working on this project. Soon, we'll list some of the recognizable names who have committed. In the meantime, we can use help fleshing out the territory. Drop me a line and we'll put you to work. This project is going to take a lot of money. Right this minute, we are building the framework. We need someone to come up with the first $1000-$1500 it will take to apply for a 501 C3 not profit status. And then, we'll need millions more. The strongest rightwing TTs operate on $15-$25 million a year. Compare that with under $5 million for most progressive TTs. The strongest TTs have assets that can approach a quarter billion dollars or more.

But we have to start somewhere. Here's a clearer picture of what the rightwing TTs do.

The Republicans stole the presidency with the help of Supreme Court Judges influenced by decades of Right wing neocon think tank “influence.”

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The mid-term elections were won using Policy and Platform positions created and fine tuned by neocon think tanks.

The right wing talk shows are fed propaganda and talking points by the neocon think tanks.

The right wing fundmentalist religious groups are presented with talking point presentations of neocon think tank material to persuade them to get behind neocon think tank policies.

The neocons have created organizations to bring college students into the neocon world.

The neocon think tanks provide research for thousands of state level republican legislators. They’ve also created an organization that supports them.

The neocon think tanks have recording studios in their Washington offices so their high name recognition spokespeople can be more easily interviewed by visiting media.

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The neocon think tanks generate hundreds of OpEd articles to be fed to mainstream media.

The neocon think tanks sponsor “educational” seminars for right wing judges—holding them in vacation locations. The goal is to get the judges to see cases through the perspective of the neocon philosophy.

Okay. So you want to help build, for the progressive movement, a weapon like the one the Republicans have used to decimate democrats, progressives, democracy, the environment, human rights….. the policy think tank?

Here are a few ways you can help:

1) Do some research on the Right wing think tanks. Assemble a list. Off the top of my head, they include PNAC, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Foundation… I need to get a complete list of the top five or ten, and remember them. I think there’s one that is the Manhattan Inst.

Anyway, dig into their websites. Identify what they do, how they promote their policies and positions. We need a complete list of all the strategies they use.

2) Dig up research on the neocon think tanks—let’s assemble a comprehensive collection of links to good articles and reports, like we’ve started to do on the PNAC Watch .

3) Identify left wing, liberal, progressive organizations that operate as think tanks, that are funding sources—Foundations, individual contributors… Potential contributors to our project once it’s further along.

4) Suggest names of potential members of the think tank. We need administrators, organizers, researchers, writers….. I am starting with columnists because it takes columnists to communicate the ideas and get them published. But we need to identify all kinds of people. Look at the list of people in the PNAC and use them as examples.  

5) Help raise money. Think of fund raising ideas. Do you know someone who could be a major contributor? Do you know someone who knows someone. I just spoke to someone today who knows the music instructor for a well known philanthropist.

6) At the least, just drop us a note that you support what we're doing, with permission to add the note to our blurbs. Encouragement goes a long way.

We will build a weapon to fight the right at an equal technology level. And we will win. There are more democrats and greens than there are Republicans. And we have one secret weapon they will never own... hearts.

Rob Kall  is publisher of progressive news and opinion website and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story This article is copyright by Rob Kall, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached

Other writings of Rob Kall


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