Today, a bemusing item about two Silicon Valley billionaires trying to “disrupt” the way the Democratic Party does business (namely, its habit of losing a lot of elections) comes to us from Recode.
The project, from Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman, one of the minds behind LinkedIn, is charmingly called Win the Future—or “WTF” for short.
Judging by the Recode post, WTF’s strategy centers around a mashup of tech buzzwords interspersed with a couple of fairly good, if not particularly original, ideas: like recruiting a candidate to challenge Nancy Pelosi in a primary race, a potential cause the duo said is on hold for now, and possibly also targeting California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, another pillar of the Democratic establishment.
But when you get down to it, what Pincus and Hoffman seem to be advocating for is the insidious brand of centrism that’s already doomed the party for years.
Recode describes the venture:
Think of WTF as equal parts platform and movement. Its new website will put political topics up for a vote — and the most resonant ideas will form the basis of the organization’s orthodoxy. To start, the group will query supporters on two campaigns: Whether or not they believe engineering degrees should be free to all Americans, and if they oppose lawmakers who don’t call for Trump’s immediate impeachment.
Pincus went on to describe WTF as “a new movement and force within the Democratic Party, which can act like its own virtual party.”
If it sounds like you’ve heard that line before, it’s because you probably have. As far back as 2003, Pincus was agitating for a political “revolution” in the form a a “web-based coalition.” He even launched a proto-plaform at eparty.org, but it never gained traction.
WTF’s landing page advertises the organization as pro-planet, pro-social, and pro-business (with hashtags), three things that can definitely co-exist without being intrinsically opposed, along with the mantra, “We are not for pro-politicians.”
One of the few things that WTF is definitely not going to be: a force for anyone trying to move the Democratic Party to the left.
“I’m fearful the Democratic Party is already moving too far to the left,” Pincus told Recode. “I want to push the Democratic Party to be more in touch with mainstream America, and on some issues, that’s more left, and on some issues it might be more right.”
Ahhhhhhh, OK, I see now. Tony Romm’s reporting for Recode doesn’t mention how much this liberal-leaning venture capitalist’s wet dream is going to cost, but it’s safe to assume it’s a big number.
The Democratic Party of today is sorely in need of disruption—that much was clear years before Trump ever descended that gilded escalator. But rather than looking to two titans of industry who embody the very elites that so badly botched 2016, liberals could try offering voters something they actually want, and something that could materially improve a lot of lives—for instance, single payer healthcare, which a plurality of Americans now support—rather than another venue to tweet their opinions (about the issues that really keep them awake at night, like engineering degrees) into the void.
As the Republicans in Congress burn in the “repeal and replace” crisis of their own making, Democrats have an unprecedented opening to offer working class voters—long forgotten by the party—something of real value. When people hear an honest defense of public goods from a politician who understands their anger but can channel it to constructive, rather than hateful, ends, they tend to like it.
And until you actually do that—instead of pitching yourself as the party of not-Trump or, even worse, pushing an Astro-turfed, top-down online movement like WTF for no reason at all—the Democrats are going to keep spinning their wheels as Republicans take power like candy from a baby.