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This advantage means liberal groups far outspend conservative ones. On immigration, the 117 progressive groups identified by Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Laksin have 22 times the funding of the nine conservative groups. On environmental issues, the count is 553 liberal groups against 32 conservative ones, and the left has 462 times the funding of the right. A broad range of liberal groups thrive not because they have significant popular support, but because their big-donor funding stream is so massive and reliable.
This isn’t just a story of numbers. Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Laksin point out that much of this money is the diverted product of the free-market system progressives are trying to undermine. The left has employed a corps of philanthropic professionals to change the orientation of foundations established by capitalists. Oil tycoon J. Howard Pew, for instance, left a fortune to teach Americans the “values of the free market” and the “paralyzing effects of government controls.” Pew Charitable Trusts is now the largest funder of the Tides Center, a middleman funder of far-left-wing activists.
John D. MacArthur was a conservative who put other conservative Midwestern bankers in charge of his foundation. Now that those conservatives are gone, the foundation’s leadership and grants have become dominated by progressives. The same fate befell the Ford and Rockefeller fortunes and those of many other capitalists, who would be spinning in their graves if they knew what causes their money was now underwriting.
Left-wing activism’s advantage is even greater because all the money isn’t just going directly to causes. Instead, liberal activists use government as a force multiplier. They spend money to influence government not only to carry out policies they prefer, but to fund further liberal activism. Progressive politics has become a self-perpetuating machine funded to a great extent by American taxpayers.
It would be nice if there were an easy solution to this funding disparity, but the book’s primary goal is to expose a reality that runs counter to conventional wisdom. We are told constantly that money in politics is put there by businesses with conservative aims. The numbers tell a different story. There is a lot of money in politics, but, as Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Laksin write, “progressives are the power,” accountable to no one and deploying vast resources to significantly frame and influence the national debate.
Maybe just by exposing this, Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Laksin have taken the first step in making them accountable.
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