David Brock has decided to lead the part of the #Resistance that involves throwing parties for tech billionaires. Next week, while Donald Trump makes himself at home in the White House, the Clinton hit man turned ally will gather 120 top Democratic donors at Miami’s Turnberry Isle resort for three days of panels, strategy sessions, and not-ready-for-TED talks — all aimed at establishing a liberal version of the Koch brothers’ vast political network.
The summit is intended to mirror the one the billionaire oilmen held in January 2009, when all the pundits were pretty sure that America would never elect a charismatic but incompetent conservative again.
“We really aspire to be like the Kochs,” Brock told BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer, who broke the news of his Democracy Matters 17 conference.
Brock acknowledges that there already is a network of liberal megarich people who imagine themselves as a countervailing force to the Kochs called the Democracy Alliance. But, per Brock, Democracy Matters is different in one key way.
“The DA has veered away from politics,” Brock told BuzzFeed. “This conference is openly political.”
At this point, you may be thinking, “In what sense is a donor network that gives to progressive political groups around the country not ‘openly political?’”
The answer seems to be that Brock has a very narrow definition of politics, and intends his organization to focus entirely on electoral politics, rather than issue-based movement building.
At next week’s summit, donors will receive insights into how Democrats can begin their march back to power in 2018 from such cutting-edge progressive thinkers as former congressman Harold Ford Jr., some guy who works at Third Way (a centrist think tank that scientists once believed to have gone extinct in the early Obama period), the Republican who advised George W. Bush on ethics, and Gary Johnson’s 2016 running mate.
The donors will hear pitches from a variety of organizations, but, per BuzzFeed, “the event is still aimed at promoting and raising an undisclosed multimillion-dollar amount for four of [Brock’s] organizations: American Bridge, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, ShareBlue, and Media Matters.”
None of this inspires much confidence. To be sure, the American left is not in a position to pick its friends right now. And if David Brock can milk a few extra dollars out of non-reactionary plutocrats — and channel some small fraction of those funds into something more productive than on-message Twitter trolls — then godspeed.
But if the progressive movement’s best substitute for the Koch brothers is David Brock — a non-ideological, non-billionaire who appears to think that issue-based organizing is not “politics” — then liberal America has every reason for feeling blue.