The Right is Getting more Bang for the Buck
Here's How we Level the Playing Field
Introduction. In contrast with the mainstream press, the purpose of our intelligence-based journalism is to provide readers with what is called actionable situational understanding. We define such understanding as the ability to think, analyze, decide, and act probabilistically, and to do so more quickly and effectively than others. We intend to impel our readers to act decisively rather than just spin endlessly in a counterproductive outrage cycle.
In this piece we address the last major element in our program to provide our readers actionable situational understanding in the fight against authoritarianism and the U.S. Republican ecosystem. That element is financial capital. Our major takeaway is that while the left has more of it than the right, the left’s capital is insufficiently mobilized and ineffectively applied.
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We further conclude that we cannot win without a substantial increase in strategic capital mobilization and a major shift in spend from political candidates and single-issue progressive causes to newly formed, participative-democracy-driven coalitions and fact-based, high-ROI applications.
In this first section we set the context. For long-time readers it will serve as a refresher.
We are at war with the right, but we are not yet on a war footing. We’re like the U.S. before Pearl Harbor, and the right is like the Axis Powers.
A war footing requires acceptance of reality, a strategy rooted in that reality that offers a realistic probability of prevailing, sufficient resources to execute the strategy, and optimal resource mobilization. We have none of these – we still collectively refuse to acknowledge that the nature of our political conflict with the right is most accurately described as warfare, which is why we hammer the point relentlessly at Revelatur.
But we are also simultaneously facing multiple global systems collapse. Quality of life for all but the elites is declining rapidly after approximately 500 years of steady progress. The right accelerates this collapse through a combination of deliberate ignorance and purposeful political strategy.
Thus, we are fighting a two-front war. The really bad news is that these challenges will get worse before they get better – no matter what we do. From this perspective we are like World War II England before the U.S. joined the fight.
The good news is that – from a resource perspective, we have more than enough people, money, knowledge, resources, and motivation to defeat authoritarian forces domestically and globally. But we are squandering a clear resource advantage through the lack of strategy and mechanisms for resource mobilization. As a result, we are at a combat power disadvantage compared to the right and to our objectives.
If we mobilize sufficiently and prevail in the U.S. domestic political fight in a reasonable amount of time – perhaps twenty years, that same mobilized “combat power” can steadily enable us to expand human rights and recover from systems collapse, environmental degradation, reduced quality of life, and losses sustained in the political fight.
Critically, our modeling and analysis indicate that we must prioritize the political fight because we cannot address the other issues effectively in an unstable global political environment. This is the equivalent of the “Europe First” strategy adopted by the Allies in World War II.
Discussion. As is the case with human capital, the left does not lack financial reserves. Total available funds on the left probably exceed -- but at least match -- those of the right. One-third of the nation's "1%" identify themselves as Republicans, 41% as independents, and 26% as Democrats. Thus, Democrats and Independents constitute 67% of the potential human, and likely dollar, capital available in the fight to preserve democracy.}
The issues we face with dollar capital mobilization are that: most people (> 75%) on the center and left have never given a dime to aid the fight; a small percentage (approximately 14%) donate aperiodically to Democratic Party politicians, and an infinitesimally small number apply their resources to progressive organizations. And none of the resulting spend is jointly coordinated via overarching strategy or optimized against long-term objectives.
The Democratic Party is giving us amateur hour year after year yet expecting us to throw good money after bad. They’re expecting us to financially support Blue Dog and “moderate” Democrats when they’ve done basically nothing for the left for 60 years, and back down from almost every fight. In fact, we think that Democratic party donors are being inordinately generous considering the lousy ROI.
The left’s financial capital is insufficiently mobilized and sub-optimally deployed. It makes no more sense to simply “give more” to Democratic politicians than it does to “vote harder.” We must change our approach to funding if we are to prevail, and the following outlines such a shift.
What we’re doing that isn’t working:
Billionaire Bugaboo. We continue trying to guilt moderate and left-leaning billionaires into primarily supporting Democratic national-level politicians despite the evidence that such spend is problematic in terms of overall combat power generation, reducing structural imbalances, responsiveness to constituent needs, and electoral utility.
Just because the right has an apparently endless supply of billionaires with bottomless resources, the left doesn’t have to match this effort. As we’ve pointed out, it is an asymmetric fight, and we must identify the unique resources we possess that the right can’t easily counter. Now all that said, financing is equivalent to the main battle tank of politics. If the bad guys have some, best if you have a method to neutralize them – even better if you have some of your own.
Frustrated by the poor ROI from political spend, the “good” billionaires funnel comparatively more of their spend to philanthropic efforts that, while usually worthwhile, are not the best use of their money because they do not address the biggest problems in the right order. This is not their fault – it is ours – we have not given them a strategy to support or the strategy-aligned mechanisms for them to spend better.
The way we neutralize the right’s billionaires most effectively is not in matching billionaire pollical spend. The right has an asymmetric advantage in that area that is structurally based, and we cannot fix the problem simply by matching or exceeding their spend. Billionaire political donations split 60-40 in favor of Republicans, FYI. We’ll win with our own asymmetric tactics -- economic warfare – boycotts, general strikes, etc. We’ve mentioned this before, and we’ll detail such an effort in a forthcoming newsletter.
(Non) Representative Government Fallacy. We waste resources trying to get Congress to shift tax spend from what we consider problematic – like defense spending, to the safety net or innovative approaches to enhance quality of life. At some point in the future when the left has deployed a much more effective communications strategy, we’ll fully expose the ridiculous nature of the Federal budget, thus enabling substantial shifts. But fighting that battle prematurely (now) is a waste of precious resources and energy.
The reason such an effort is futile now is that most democratic politicians are erstwhile allies at best, power-loving supporters of representative government most of the time, and neoliberal political theology adherents at worst. They have nowhere near enough inventive in our current system to fight the battles to reduce defense spending (that’s where the discretionary money really is) and fund quality of life, justice and/or equality of opportunity initiatives.
And if they’re not going to support progressive, justice, equality, and quality of life initiatives, we should cut off their funding. The U.S. practices representative government, and our representatives are supposed to support their constituents. They’ll come around very quickly when we shut off the funding spigot – as we’ve seen with Sinema and Manchin when their financiers on the right threatened to withhold funding.
Shiny Object Spend. Although the overall participation rate is abysmally small, we also tend to join and fund single issue progressive organizations that won’t see the big picture and refuse to collaborate to save democracy. These organizations are filled with well-meaning people, and we badly want them to succeed -- but they’re squandering critical funds and energy on issues that frequently divide the forces we need to have combined to face down the right. Now is the time to optimize combat power via consolidation, collaboration, and strategic prioritization – the allies’ winning formula in World War II.
Lack of Innovation. But we are also not keeping up with, much less getting ahead of, the pace of change. MAGA and the clunky, plodding, supposedly stupid Republican Party is running circles around the left in general – and the Democratic Party in particular – in forecasting, data analysis, ideation, strategy, communications, and information operationalization. We need to invest heavily in these capabilities. With the right investments the left can achieve information superiority in as little as three years, which will mark a decisive turning point in the war.
What we must do to win:
Mobilize and Organize. Specifically, we recommend the creation of a small number (1-3) of Strategic Action Committees to serve as strategic resource mobilizers. We suggest these would include one each for justice, the environment, and politics, or there could be just one with three sub-committees.
The committee(s) could be formed by integrating willing existing liberal and progressive organizations. They would operate as a movement and from a common strategy -- and counterbalance each other to maximize contributions from stakeholder groups. They would allocate funds to issues and efforts based on an empirically derived and extensible strategic optimization model that generates maximum ROI against a basket of objectives.
The committee(s) become the major capital (dollar and human) resource aggregators, and a consolidated grouping will make them powerful and cogent – and thus more attractive to donors.
Collapsing the plethora of liberal and progressive organizations onto just a handful of committees will demonstrate to friend and foe the sheer size and might of the left, giving the right pause and the left some much needed confidence.
Our models indicate that success cannot be achieved by reliance on current representative governance entities – their dominance in western democracies is prolonging and deepening our crises.
All of this must be made transparent, with committee donors participating in all aspects from strategy and model development to execution and evaluation. As with the Allied Powers in World War II, this will be a very unwieldy mechanism at first, but we’ll learn through doing.
Change Behavior. We’ll need to create “nudges” to encourage committee participation, and protections to give citizens stiffer backbones. As an example, the right ecosystem uses an underlying substrate of fears and an “evergreen” set of grievances, as their nudges. And they provide lifetime jobs for people who stick their necks out through think tanks, political campaigns, etc.
We are not marketeers, and the committees would need to give this substantial thought, but here are a couple nudges and protections to get the juices flowing:
Ensure everyone can donate tax-free to the committees – the right will try to prevent these a thousand different ways so we must prepare for that.
Establish a Legal Defense Fund within each committee or across the entire movement to pay the legal costs to defend legislation, and to pay the legal bills of courageous citizens who take stands approved or encouraged by the strategy – to include acts of civil disobedience.
Maintain an “Ecosystem Job Network” to support movement participants when they experience job loss in the line of duty, and to encourage more people to take risks in support of the movement.
Create the left equivalents of Fox News and Sinclair Broadcasting. This is one area we do specifically want to target billionaire support. We’ll explode what this would look like in a subsequent piece.
Concluding Thoughts. At the risk of reducing a critical analytical conclusion to a tautology, we believe that the capital resource issue is best characterized as the left lacking “Currency.” Currency is an expansive concept and includes the three connected aspects we noted already in this piece: knowledge superiority; acceptance of reality; and the optimal allocation of financial capital.
The lack of all three on the left certainly reduces our power, but power can and does manifest itself through intangible factors such as determination and audacity – and the left again falls critically short in these less well-known aspects of “currency.” It falls short because it considers the pursuit of power to be distasteful and orthogonal to the pursuit of “purer” objectives such as justice and equality. Unfortunately, power is the necessary precursor to the effective pursuit of the purer objectives, and the right has a decided advantage in currency, raw power, and thus mobilized combat power.
At Revelatur we sometimes feel that our language, while accurate, isn’t quite visceral enough to get the point across. Music often does a better job. It seems to us that this stanza from Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” sums up our “lacking currency” arguments more concisely than we ever could:
“A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the third world
Maybe it's his first time around
Doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, "Amen and Hallelujah!"
We concur. This is the challenge and the hope and the dream of America, and it is primarily our defeatism, not the enemy, that is keeping us from achieving the dream.
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