- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker made history on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, when he became the only sitting governor in U.S. history to survive a recall vote; two previous governors, in North Dakota and famously, Gray Davis, in California were recalled.
Walker and his battle to limit the power of public employee unions at a time when taxpayers are screaming “Uncle!” and the promised Obama economic recovery is still a promise occupies an entire chapter — Chapter 8: One Nation Under Unions — in “The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money Money Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America’s Future” (Crown Forum, an imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing, 309 pages, notes, 16 appendices, index, $27.00) by David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin.
“Left-wing money?” you ask. The mainstream media reported that Walker, a Republican, outspent his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, anywhere from 3 to 1 to 10 to 1, with “outside” money playing a big role in Barrett’s attempt to unseat his 2010 opponent. Horowitz and Laksin would point to the “secret” money and support from such powerful “outside” forces as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — the nation’s largest public employees union; teachers unions and once conservative but now left-wing foundations like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, even supposedly nonpartisan AARP, and many others vastly outspend conservative groups and individuals like the much-mentioned Koch brothers.
Horowitz and Laksin write that the SEIU and left-wing foundations underwrote the political career of Barack Obama and how massive funding advantages for progressive proposals have disenfranchised American voters and shifted the national policy debate dramatically to the left. “The New Leviathan” draws connections between the Obama administration and progressive organizations from labor unions to media outlets to nonprofits to political groups, and shows how on key policy fronts — national security, immigration, citizenship, environment, and health care — the sheer force of left-wing financial resources has reconfigured the nation’s political agenda.
An important part of the book are the sixteen appendices — exhaustively running from Page 183 to Page 275 — listing the comparative monetary power of “Progressive” organizations vs. conservative ones. The databases were prepared from the reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service and look to be objective number crunching. Mining databases is an important component of today’s journalism.
Among the findings in this important — for Progressives and conservatives alike — book:
> The 115 major tax-exempt foundations of the Left have a combined $104 billion in tax-exempt assets, more than 10 times the amount held by their largest 75 conservative counterparts.
> Of those 115 left-wing foundations, 14 have assets of more than $1 billion. There are no conservative foundations that can boast this milestone.
> How the war chest provided by this network of foundations and unions enabled the Democrats to push their universal health-care bill through Congress in 2009, despite overwhelming public disapproval.
> How, through lobbying and political strong arming, government unions — opposed by none other than President Franklin D. Roosevelt — have shaped policy so that federal employees receive an average of $123,049 in annual pay and benefits — twice the average for private-sector workers.
> How Barack Obama’s path to the presidency was paved every step of the way by a network of radical organizations and political figures looking to put a moderate face on their agenda of radical change.
Already, supporters of two-time-loser Barrett are saying the results in Wisconsin have no relevance in the November contest between Obama and Romney. Other commentators aren’t so sure, stating that if a reliably Blue state like Wisconsin could have a turnout of voters supporting a conservative Republican like Walker, anything is possible. Some have even removed the solid blue color Wisconsin has on the map, putting it — with Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida — as states that are in play.
A personal note: As a reporter for The Milwaukee Sentinel from 1967 to 1976, I quickly discovered that, outside of Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin is a pretty conservative state. The Sentinel was a conservative paper owned by a liberal one, with an independent editorial policy and the advantage of morning publication. In the 1990s The Sentinel was merged with its sister paper, The Milwaukee Journal(we shared the same building at 4th and State) to form the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I traveled the state in my capacity as a special sections editor and found that very conservative political views prevail throughout much of the state.
In “The New Leviathan”, Horowitz and Laksin overturn the conventional wisdom about which end of the political spectrum represents the rich and powerful, and which represents the people. They say that the Democratic Party presents itself to the electorate as the party of working families and the poor. In the 2000 election campaign, Democrat Al Gore ran on the slogan ‘The People vs. the Powerful,’ while President Obama describes himself as a ‘grassroots organizer’ and a spokesman for ‘fairness” and “progressive change.’
Such is the world of political myth, write Horowitz, a “Red Diaper Baby” 1960s radical turned conservative, and Laksin. “In reality, the Democrats and the Obama progressives represent the richest and most powerful political machine in American history. Backed by a near trillion-dollar treasury in America’s oldest and largest tax-exempt foundations, progressives outspend conservatives by a factor of seven to one,” they say.
If you’ve wondered — as I have — how foundations founded by conservatives like Henry Ford, the Rockefellers, the Caseys, founders of UPS, Heinz and Pew have become liberal, even radical, read Chapter 3: The Progressive Money Machine, beginning on Page 41. Horowitz and Laksin describe the sea change of the foundations, at one time fairly nonpartisan, even conservative, and how the conservatives were ousted by radicals in the 1960s and later. Today, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is reliably liberal, even though it was founded by conservative insurance executive John MacArthur (Bankers Life and Casualty). The authors detail the takeover of the foundation — repeated at other megafoundations — by liberals, even radicals who hate capitalism but love the money capitalism provide to further their causes. The chapter is enlightening and answered many of my questions.
Bottom line: If you’re a liberal, Progressive or Democrat, hold your nose and read the book. It’s published by the conservative imprint of the world’s largest publisher, an indication that the German owners of Random House recognize the importance of conservative thought. If you’re a conservative, it will reinforce your views about the not-so-hidden power of the giant, left-leaning foundations, powerful unions like SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers and billionaires like George Soros.
About the Authors
David Horowitz is the New York Times bestselling author of, among other books, “One-Party Classroom”, “The Professors”, “Radical Son”, “The Shadow Party”, and “Party of Defeat”. He is president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles.
Jacob Laksin is the managing editor of Front-Page Magazine and coatuhor of One-Party Classroom. His articles and reviews have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Weekly Standard, National Review Online, RealClearWorld, and the Washington Examiner.