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The New Leviathan, by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, overturns conventional wisdom about money and power in American politics, attacking the well-known myth that conservative lobby groups wield unparalleled clout. The myth holds that the relatively small “grass-roots” organizations on the side of the Democratic Party, putatively the party of the “the people,” are dwarfed by pro-Republican organizations speaking for Wall Street and the corporate elite. Allowing Democrats to claim moral legitimacy, this David-and-Goliath story has held sway for a long time, regardless of the massive wealth and old-money connections of many individual Democratic politicians: presidential nominee John Kerry’s jaw-dropping opulence went almost unmentioned by the mainstream media, as did the fact that Wall Street leaders raised 100 million dollars to support Barack Obama’s populist “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” White House bid.
Subtitled “How the Left-Wing Money Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future,” Horowitz and Laksin’s new book demonstrates the reality behind the myth in this impressively documented study of the left-wing money machine. As they substantiate with riveting detail, a plethora of left-wing organizations, philanthropies, unions, and think tanks, the majority tax-exempt and government-funded, now make up a unique power bloc that in the past decade has undergone explosive growth. At a time when soft funding for political parties has been curtailed, this network now effectively controls Democratic candidates and the party agenda, having amassed a war chest far exceeding both the money in conservative coffers and that held by the Democratic Party itself.
The aim of this network, as the authors show with many examples, is not only to influence elections through indirect means such as Media Matters, which continuously campaigns against conservative ideas, but also to transform the fabric of American society through education initiatives, community organizing projects, lawsuits, harassment campaigns, and tireless attacks on conservative figures. Its over-riding purpose, following the Marcusean strategy of revolution by stealth, is to move radical ideas “from the political margins to the political mainstream” until they become official Democratic policy as well as an accepted part of public debate. Ideas that were once thought risibly extreme—that Islamists bent on America’s destruction are actually victims of American aggression, that unlimited access to abortion is a woman’s right—become respectable through repetition. Although the various Democrat-friendly foundations claim to seek an expanded democracy, many of them are hard-left rather than liberal-democratic in their orientation, and represent a dangerously determined alliance bent on fomenting class division, hobbling the capitalist system, and weakening American power.
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