Special interests have captured the elite level of the Democratic Party, leaving it, as Doug Schoen explained in Tuesday's Examiner, to languish on life support — and facing structural challenges that are not often systematically analyzed.
The quick analysis is that special interests have set the agenda of the White House and Congress for the past two years, isolating the Democratic Party on the Left, abandoned by the center and the Right.
But what is this "Left" where Democrats have been marooned? What is its structure and agenda?
The agenda is the easy part. The last two years of White House and congressional actions can be accurately summed up in two words: more government.
The structure of the Left, however, is harder to sort out, especially when seeking to identify leaders with sufficient clout among key leaders in the White House and Congress to capture the elite level of the Democratic Party.
Long ago, I learned in tracking the Left, interviewing its leaders and studying its programs and tactics, that from an organizational perspective it is far from monolithic. Rather, it is a patchwork of diverse, often competing factions, more resembling a poorly mended fishnet with a lot of big, little, and missing knots.
What defines groups on the Left beyond their shared demand for more government is a motley spectrum of inter-related ideological issues ranging from the exotic and odd -- animal rights and goddess Gaia's teachings on the environment -- to the utterly practical -- regulating urban growth and government-mandated end-of-life counseling for the elderly.
From out of this hodge-podge, I've identified eight essential types of progressives, including the four big major special interests, and four not so big, all of which in their own unique ways are influential:
Big Labor Progressives. Andy Stern (SEIU) wanted to merge many small, weak unions into a few mighty mega-unions like Europe; Gerald McEntee (AFSCME) wants control of the government employee sector; Richard Trumka (AFLCIO) hints at coalitions of unions-plus-other-progressives.
Big Green Progressives. The Obama administration has so many that their no-development agenda is rapidly reducing the economic value of America's land and waters, hitting oil and gas, mining, and fisheries hardest. Greens trend toward the far left: former EPA boss Carol Browner was a Socialist International official before Obama recruited her as climate advisor.
Big Funder Progressives. The Environmental Grantmakers Association represents 225 major donors. George Soros' Open Society Institute is No. 27 on the Foundation Center's top donors list, and the 99 others all give money to progressive groups -- the top 54 each have assets over $1 billion.
Big Activism Progressives. Social change factions include organizations like as NARAL Pro-Choice, People for the American Way, the Foundation for National Progress (publisher of Mother Jones), supporting same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, media reform, marijuana legalization, etc.
Also included in this category are the Leftist activists who control the Washington offices of such seemingly non-political organizations as AARP, which spent millions of dollars promoting Obamacare, and trial lawyers, represented mainly by the American Association for Justice, seeking new legislative and regulatory avenues for generating class-action litigation.
Smaller, but still influential:
Anti-globalization progressives, such as the International Forum on Globalization, the Funders' Network on Trade and Globalization, and Fifty Years Is Enough. Their literature recommends relocating the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization in the United Nations to stop the spread of capitalism.
Anti-corporate progressives. Several dozen groups, including CorpWatch and the Campaign for America's Future, emphasize reducing corporate power by shareholder protests, lawsuits, tightening regulations, and rowdy protests to scare away customers, as Rainforest Action Network did to Home Depot to stop their sale of lumber from old-growth forests.
Anti-capitalist progressives. Off-the-chart leftists such as Global Exchange, Ruckus Society, Direct Action Network, Peoples' Global Action, Black Bloc anarchists, and other "WTO-Battle of Seattle" protesters, want to restrain capitalism as being an anti-social force, or, failing that, to redirect the profit system to government control. Some, a minority, want to destroy capitalism. The Battle of Seattle attracted labor union and environmental group leaders to the protest site.
Post-national progressives. They seriously consider replacing national citizenship with "denationalized forms of citizenship." Some fear a totally privatized dystopia like that in Neal Stephenson's novel, Snow Crash, or dream of a localist utopia of small self-sufficient communities.
Compiled by Examiner Contributor Ron Arnold, author of "Undue Influence" and "Freezing in the Dark," books that detail how special interests operate within and without the Democratic Party to advance their agendas.