PART 3: The Shadow Party
by Richard Poe
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
12:00 am Eastern Time
Monday, October 11, 2005
AT THE SHADOW Party’s “Take Back America” conference in Washington on June 3, 2004, following a glowing introduction from Hillary Clinton, George Soros stepped to the podium to explain to the audience that when it came to electoral politics in the USA, he was a newcomer. Only his outrage over Bush’s invasion of Iraq had stirred him to get involved in the partisan struggle. “[I]t is the first time that I feel that I need to stand up and do something, and become really engaged in the electoral process in this country,” Soros said. (1)
This was far from the truth, however. Whatever reasons Soros had for entering party politics, they clearly pre-dated the war in Iraq or George W. Bush. Soros has been neck-deep in Democrat intrigue since at least 1994. Three weeks after Republicans swept Congress in the mid-term elections that year, Soros stated in a November 30, 1994 speech that he wished to “do something about […] the distortion of our electoral process by the excessive use of TV advertising.” (2) Evidently, Soros realized that the most efficient way to control political advertising would be to control the flow of “soft money” earmarked for the political parties. Within eight months of Soros’ speech, Democrat Senator Russ Feingold obligingly rose on the Senate floor to denounce soft money abuses, thus setting in motion the political steamroller that would ultimately flatten all opposition and give us the McCain-Feingold Act of March 27, 2002.
Few Americans realize that it was George Soros who bankrolled the seven-year lobbying effort without which McCain-Feingold never would have seen the light of day. As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “Combine […] the $1.7 million that Mr. Soros gave the Center for Public Integrity, the $1.3 million he gave Public Campaign, the $300,000 to Democracy 21, the $625,000 to Common Cause, and the $275,000 to Public Citizen — and you can be forgiven for believing Mr. Soros got campaign finance passed all by himself.” (3)
But to what end did he do it? Why did Soros spend seven years and millions of dollars pushing a soft-money ban through Congress, only to turn around in 2004 and mount an equally ambitious effort — through the Shadow Party — to circumvent that ban and bankroll the John Kerry campaign? Many critics have accused Soros of “hypocrisy” for playing both sides of the McCain-Feingold fence. However, his actions may not be as contradictory as they appear.
By pushing McCain-Feingold through Congress, Soros cut off the Democrats’ soft-money supply. By forming the Shadow Party, Soros offered the Democrats an alternate money spigot — one which he personally controlled. As a result the Democrats are heavily — perhaps even irretrievably — dependent on Soros. It seems reasonable to consider the possibility that McCain-Feingold, from its very inception, was a Soros power play to gain control of the Democratic Party.
With Ted Kennedy well into his 72nd year, and the Kennedy clan in overall decline, no dynasty of comparable wealth or ambition has stepped forward to lead the Democrats. George Soros may well aspire to fill the vacuum that the Kennedys have left. At age 74, his thoughts have turned more and more to dynasty building. Soros has five children; three by his first wife Annaliese and two by his second wife Susan. Since September, Soros has effectively placed his two eldest sons in charge of his financial empire. Robert Daniel Soros, 41, and Jonathan T. Soros, 34, now handle the day-to-day investment decisions of Soros Fund Management, as chief investment officer and deputy chairman respectively. (4)
Robert and Jonathan have also followed their father into politics. As mentioned in Part 2, Jonathan Soros is a MoveOn.org activist, a financial sponsor of MoveOn, and a contributor to other Shadow Party groups as well. His brother Robert is focusing, for the time being, on state-level politics. Robert and his wife Melissa gave $100,000 to the New York State Democratic Campaign Committee in 2004. “I live in New York and understand the importance of state government,” Robert explained to the New York Post. (5)
If indeed the Soros family means to rule the Democrats — perhaps even more comprehensively than the Kennedys once did — they have found a power base for their ambitions among the party’s left wing. A cover story for The New York Times Magazine of July 25, 2004 — on the very eve of the Democratic Convention’s opening ceremonies in Boston — provided a glimpse of the tidal force now sweeping the destinies of Democrats and their Party in its wake. Written by Matt Bai, the story bore the title, “Wiring the Vast Leftwing Conspiracy,” but it might just as well have been called, “The Democratic Party is Dead — Long Live the Shadow Party!” For that was the clear message its contents conveyed. (6) “As Democrats converge on Boston this week to hold their party convention and formally anoint Kerry as their nominee, all the talk will be of resurgence, unity and a new sense of purpose. Don’t be fooled,” Bai warned. According to Bai, the unspoken question haunting the convention would be, “in the era after big government,” what “is the party’s reason for being?”
With the Democratic Convention’s opening ceremonies only 24 hours away, Bai urged readers to, “be sure to take a long, last look. The Democratic Party of the machine age, so long dominant in American politics, could be holding its own Irish wake near Boston’s North End. The power is already shifting — not just within the party, but away from it altogether.”
The independence of Soros’ Shadow Party has proved a double-edged sword for Democrats. On the one hand, it allows Democrats to circumvent the law, by delegating what amounts to a new form of “soft-money” fundraising to an outside agency. On the other hand, Democrats today have become so dependent on that outside agency that some Shadow Party operatives have begun to question whether they even need the Democrats any longer. Why not break off and form their own party, they ask? In his article, Bai regaled his readers with a dismal recitation of figures documenting the collapse of Democrat power. He wrote:
“Since the 1950’s, when nearly half of all voters called themselves Democrats, nearly one in six Democrats has left the party, according to a University of Michigan study, while Republican membership has held close to steady. […] [T]he Democratic Party has seen an exodus of the white working-class men who were once their most reliable voters. In the suburbs […] the percentage of white men supporting the party has plummeted 16 points just since Bill Clinton left office. […] [Democrats] have spent most of the last decade in the minority, and during that time they have never enjoyed a majority of more than a single vote.”
Bai summed up the damage thus: “[…] Thirty years ago, Democrats could claim outright control of 37 state legislatures, compared with only 4 for Republicans; Democrats now control just 17.” Democratic strategist Pat Caddell, a participant in the Soros-Huffington Shadow Convention, agreed: “The deterioration is steady, and it’s spreading like a cancer. So much for thinking that if we could just go back to the glorious 90’s, the party would be fine. The 90’s were our worst decade since the 1920’s.”
What To Do?
According to Bai, the last best hope for “progressive” politics in America lies in what he calls the “vast leftwing conspiracy,” by which he means the network of independent, non-profit issue groups controlled by Soros, Ickes and their allies: the Shadow Party. “This is like post-Yugoslavia. We used to have a strongman called the party. After McCain-Feingold, we dissolved the power of Tito,” exulted Soros supporter Andrew Stern, a former SDS and anti-Vietnam war activist, now president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) which has spent $65 million to beat Bush. Shadow Party co-founder Harold Ickes extolled the hip, youthful spirit that MoveOn.org’s online activists have brought to political organizing on the left. He told Bai:
” ‘When you go out and talk to them, people are much more interested in something like MoveOn.org than in the Democratic Party. It has cachet. There is no cachet in the Democratic Party. MoveOn raised a million dollars for a bunch of Texas state senators, man. Plus their bake sale. If they continue with their cachet and really interest people and focus their people on candidates — boy, that’s a lot of leverage. No party can do that. And what the political ramifications of that are.’ Ickes’s voice trailed off. He shrugged. ‘Who knows?’ “
Bai’s article shined a spotlight on what he called “next-generation liberals” — rising Young Turks of the Shadow Party like Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andrew Rappaport and Jonathan Soros. According to Bai, these young leftists “have come to view progressive politics as a market in need of entrepreneurship, served poorly by a giant monopoly — the Democratic Party.” The solution? “People like Andy Rappaport and Jonathan Soros might succeed in revitalizing progressive politics — while at the same time destroying what we now call the Democratic Party.”
SEIU leader Andrew Stern agrees with Bai. Despite the $64 million he has poured into the Kerry campaign, Stern seems oddly apathetic toward the party Kerry represents. “There is an incredible opportunity to have the infrastructure for a third party,” he told Bai. “Anyone who could mobilize these groups would have the Democratic Party infrastructure, and they wouldn’t need the Democratic Party.” It would be a radical dream come true.
What exactly would a third party — guided by George Soros and his radicals — envision and seek to accomplish that today’s Democrats cannot or will not do? The possibilities are endless. In the past, Bai explains, contributions to the Democratic Party simply vanished down a black hole, to be spent as Party leaders saw fit. The 527s allow “ideological donors” such as George and Jonathan Soros to apply their money to specific projects which enable them to shape Party goals and strategy — or even to by-pass the Party altogether.
New Democrat Network president Simon Rosenberg told Bai that independent 527s would be free to attack ideological foes with a forcefulness mainstream Democrats would never dare display. Insurgents such as Rosenberg are looking for a “more defiant kind of politics,” which confronts head-on the “sharp ideological divide between them and the Rush Limbaugh right,” notes Bai.
In the final analysis, the movers and shakers of the Shadow Party may or may not decide to break off and go it alone, forming a Progressive Party to the left of the Democrats as Henry Wallace and the Communist Party did in 1948 (Wallace lost and the Progressive Party disintegrated after a pitiful showing in the 1952 elections). The defiant statements to Matt Bai, on the other hand, might be merely shots across the bow — warnings to Democrat moderates to take the Shadow Party and its leftwing agenda seriously, or risk a devastating party split. Either way, the Shadow Party emerges a winner and is here to stay. Barring a change in the campaign funding laws, its power will continue to grow, whether as part of a coalition that includes the Democratic Party or not. Already, Shadow Party control of Democrat fundraising has given Soros and his minions influence over the party’s platform , strategy and candidate. Should John Kerry take the White House in this election, the Shadow Party will have a throne in the West Wing.
The Shadow Party
October 6 – October 11, 2005
by David Horowitz and Richard Poe
Posted to Poe.com Tuesday, August 15, 2006 2:45 pm ET
Cross-posted from FrontPageMagazine.com 10.11.04
1. Comments by George Soros, Take Back America Conference, Federal News Service, Washington DC, 3 June 2004
2. Speech by George Soros, Alexander Ming Fisher Lecture Series, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, 30 November 1994
3. “The Soros Agenda: Free Speech for Billionaires Only,” Wall Street Journal, 30 December 2003; In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook indicated that the $275,000 Soros gave to Public Citizen was earmarked for projects other than campaign finance reform (Joan Claybrook, “Clarifying Soros Funding,” Wall Street Journal, 6 January 2004)
4. Riva D. Atlas, “2 Soros Sons Get More Control of the Business,” The New York Times, 6 October 2004, C1
5. Fredric U. Dicker, “Soros Jr.’s Splurge — Tycoon’s Son Spends Liberally on N.Y. Dems,” New York Post, 10 August 2004, 6
6. Matt Bai, “Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy,” The New York Times Magazine, 25 July 2004, 30