A substantial Democrat donor is founding a new organization to “challenge” the Democrat National Committee because he says the Democrats are in “complete disarray” after Hillary Clinton’s election loss last year.
“I think it’s nearly certain that (the DNC) hasn’t learned the lessons of 2016 yet,” Zynga founder Mark Pincus told Recode earlier this month. “There are some very great voices … But as an overall whole, as a party, I think they’re, frankly, still getting their act together on presenting a coherent view of the future that they want to build to.”
But, while Pincus and his fellow liberals may be right about the lack of focus surrounding the Democrats’ attempts to retake the House of Representatives in 2018 and the White House in 2020, it’s unclear that his group is any better prepared than the DNC to lead those efforts.
Business Insider called Pincus’ new organization — branded “Win the Future” and perhaps appropriately abbreviated “WTF” (yes, they really call it that) — an attempt to start a “third political party,” and Pincus himself said, “We’re not just trying to be an arm of the Democratic Party. We’re trying to say the Democratic Party needs to change if it wants our votes and our money and our time.”
Pincus also told Recode that WTF will “act like its own virtual party” from within the party’s ranks, whatever that means.
“It’s not so much that we want to fight the Democratic Party, because we ultimately want to see Democrats win,” he said.
So his plan is to threaten to walk away, taking “our votes and our money and our time” — no idle threat, as Pincus has reportedly donated millions to Democrat groups and campaigns — but not to pick a fight with the party he’s threatening.
Granted, the Dems look like they could use some help. According to Fox News, a recent promotion soliciting campaign slogans from supporters came up with winners like, “I mean, have you seen the other guys?”
Someone needs to remind them just how well that messaging worked for Hillary Clinton last year.
OK, so maybe WTF’s strategy needs a little work, but surely their ideology is well-formed, right? I mean, how could they know that the current crop of Democrats aren’t what they’re looking for if they don’t know what they’re looking for?
Not so fast.
So far, the vision for Pincus’ new WTF website, which launched on July 4, mentions only “capitalism and civil rights” as specific platform points; the rest of Pincus’ statement is filled with non-specific platitudes like the “need (to) improve our democracy” and fix a “broken government.” On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with any of these ideas; on the other hand, Pincus will have trouble pulling in supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with a “pro-business” agenda, no matter how “pro-planet” he also claims it is.
And by the looks of their early attempts to crowd-source a billboard campaign aimed at lawmakers in D.C., those most engaged with the group lean pretty hard to the left. Favored topics are free education, impeaching President Donald Trump and saving Obamacare.
“That new effort sounds like it’s going to make the same mistake the Democrats made last election,” Rachel Alexander, senior editor at The Stream, told me. “The country has shifted back to the right a bit and so running on a far-left platform is just going to get them defeated again.”
Lauren Cooley, founder and executive director of Campus Red PAC, largely agreed.
“I’m a firm believer that the best way to reform politics is from within the the major parties,” Cooley told me in an email. “With that being said, I don’t blame Democrats for being disgusted and disappointed with their party.
“Democrats have veered so far to the left that they have me asking ‘WTF’ every day — pun intended,” she added.
Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, however, thinks there may be more for Republicans to worry about in this movement despite its apparent problems, because the underlying dislike of Donald Trump on the left, lingering resentment from November’s election results and widespread disappointment with politics in general may mean some unexpected victories next year for Democrats, who may not be as disorganized as complacent GOP strategists would like to believe.
“Unfortunately, I think that still is the prevailing view on our side. I think it is grossly mistaken,” Walsh suggested. “I think that’s going to bite us … in 2018.”
I asked him directly if he believed Republicans would lose the House of Representatives next year, and he was less than optimistic — and Walsh knows something about wave elections.
“The left is as angry as we were in 2010 when I got elected … I think there’s a tea party wave building (on the left) and our side isn’t going to give it its due,” he added, arguing that the “anger and momentum” are on the Democrats’ side headed into the midterm elections. “I know what carried me in 2010 … We were carried to office because of the tea party wave.”
Walsh has a point when it comes to the anger on the left, but whether Pincus and co-founder Reid Hoffman, who helped launch LinkedIn, can bring order to the chaos remains an open question. The tea party was a largely grassroots effort — not a centrally planned and well-funded attempt by a couple of Silicon Valley multi-millionaires to gin up a grassroots effort.
And if you think WTF is a terrible name, Hoffman originally wanted to call the group the “Green Tea Party.” Are they big-government environmentalists? Are they small-government libertarians?
Your guess is as good as mine. And maybe as good as theirs.
George Upper is the executive editor of Western Journalism. His weekly column, “The Upper Cut,” appears each Tuesday morning. In addition to sharing it on social media, you can also connect with him on Facebookor on Twitter @georgeupper.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.
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