Think Tanks Without Thought

The Democrats are trying to create a "think tank" designed to "take on the right".

A group of Democrats are forming a political research institute in an effort to counter what they see as the domination of the national political debate by well-organized, well-financed conservatives at the White House, in Congress, in a variety of media and in policy institutes all over Washington.

The goal of the new organization, which expects to operate with an annual budget of $10 million, is to develop "progressive" ideas — its backers avoid the word "liberal" — and aggressively push them onto the airwaves and into print.

First of all, if you can’t call yourself what you are, you’re screwed already. A liberal by any other name is just as liberal, and the ideas of this organization will be the same liberal ideas that have come from the Democratic spin machine for years and years. The "progressive" movement is an atavistic throwback to the command economy and budget-busting social programs that do little else than assuage liberal guilt while fostering yet more dependency on government. Yet the hubris doesn’t end there:

The president of the organization, temporarily calling itself the American Majority Institute, is John Podesta, a chief of staff in the Clinton White House.

"We’re focused on setting a direction for the country and critiquing the direction that the right wing is taking it in," Mr. Podesta said in an interview. "We want to take on the right rather than try to make this an argument about whether the Democratic Party should go left or center."

In other words, this laughably titled agency will not be a think tank, it will be an attack dog. One wonders if these people have any clue about what a think tank does. Think tanks explore policy, rather than trying to tear it down. It seems the Democrats are admitting that they are so intellectually bankrupt that they can only criticize and snipe rather than come up with anything of their own.

Said one Democratic activist:

"The conservative movement has been effective in building the echo chamber for themselves," she said, "both through the media — talk radio, Fox News, The Weekly Standard — and through effective institutions like the Heritage Foundation, which reinforces their ideas and focuses on communicating them."

First of all, the talking points spouted by Democratic activists about Fox News ignore that Fox, National Review and talk radio are not the whole of the media. There’s NPR, The New York Times, and the major news networks, all of whom tend to lean left of center.

The fundamental mistake the Democrats are making is that it is not that their ideas are not being heard. If people wanted to listen to liberal ideas, there are plenty of places they could go. The problem is that people don’t like liberal ideas. The New York Times speaks to an audience that consists largely of the Manhattan elite, and the networks are bleeding audience members to cable and the Internet. It’s not that there isn’t choice, it’s that people are choosing the other side.

Until the Democrats can stop complaining about the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and start actually competing in the realm of ideas, no amount of liberal talk radio shows, liberal magazines, or liberal think tanks will solve the underlying problems of the Democratic Party.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.