Opinion | Unveiling the Disappearance of Left-Wing Funds: What Happened to Them?

While it’s understandable that there may be some lassitude among liberals, it’s also alarming considering we will have to face off against Trump once again. Additionally, some of the pullback seems to be rooted in a deeper malaise. Max Berger, co-founder of progressive groups like If Not Now and the Momentum Training Institute, noted that during the Trump era, there was a significant increase in grass-roots funding due to fear. However, we seem to be reaching the end of that wave of sheer terror, so in order to maintain momentum, we need something more positive.

One specific issue within this broader problem, and perhaps the easiest to address, is the way Democrats use email. If you’re on any progressive mailing lists, you’re likely familiar with this: the endless appeals, often in bold all caps, warning of an impending Democratic disaster. Recent subject lines in my inbox include, “We can kiss our Senate majority goodbye” and “This is not looking good.”

These emails are effective in the short term, which is why campaigns use them. However, over time, they foster a combination of cynicism and helplessness, leading many people to disengage from political involvement. Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party, argued that this approach is ultimately disastrous because it fails to build a trustworthy base.

Yet, this is just one symptom of a larger problem. Currently, progressive politics are centered around preventing imminent catastrophe instead of presenting a vision for a transformed world. While Joe Biden has an impressive legislative record, the case for his re-election largely revolves around averting disaster rather than promising new accomplishments. “It’s really hard to get people to donate when you don’t have a coherent theory of change,” explained Berger.

Nevertheless, when there is a real potential for change, progressives are still able to mobilize. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there was a renewed surge of activist and donor support, as observed by Tory Gavito, president of Way to Win. She pointed out that Janet Protasiewicz raised an exceptional amount of money in her race for a crucial Wisconsin Supreme Court seat. Similarly, organizers in Ohio successfully fought against a sneaky statewide ballot measure aimed at undermining a campaign to protect reproductive rights. (Planned Parenthood has recently laid people off, but they maintain that this was due to restructuring rather than a fundraising shortfall.)


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