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Greylock Partners Investment Partner Reid Hoffman speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 at Pier 48 on September 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Progressives Explain Why Centrist Tech Billionaires Won't Save the Democrats

The newly launched Win the Future initiative has been panned as just another "centrist push" by self-interested billionaires.

Jake Johnson

In a move already being denounced by progressives as "tone-deaf" and "literally the stupidest f------ idea" ever, tech billionaires Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman have launched an initiative titled Win the Future (WTF) with the goal of bringing the Democratic Party back from the political wilderness.

"The weakness of the Democratic Party is not due to an underrepresentation of venture capitalists and tech company board members."
—Alex Lawson, Social Security Works

Recode's Tony Romm first reported on the billionaires' plans and lofty objectives, which include pushing Democrats to "rewire their philosophical core" and recruiting candidates to challenge Democratic incumbents. The recruits, according to Romm, will be called "WTF Democrats."

The tech moguls have "contributed $500,000 to their still-evolving project" so far, Romm notes, and they have been "aided by Jeffrey Katzenberg, a major Democratic donor and former chairman of Disney, as well as venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Sunil Paul."

Pincus, the co-founder of Zynga, signaled that the WTF platform will be "pro-social [and] pro-planet, but also pro-business and pro-economy."

"I'm fearful the Democratic Party is already moving too far to the left," Pincus said. "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."

Progressives reacted to the project—and to the comments of its founders—with a combination of scorn and dismay, portraying the effort as just the latest in a series of misguided attempts to push the Democratic Party rightward.

If the self-interested elites behind "Win the Future" want to be helpful, say critics, they should go save the Republican Party instead.

"It would be much more valuable for the world if sane, but conservative, self-protective rich people who are against bigotry and recognize that climate science is real became forces within the Republican Party and supported sane Republicans in primaries rather than water down the message of the Democratic Party and its commitment to economic equality and social justice," Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, told The Huffington Post.

Hauser concluded that the last thing the Democratic Party should be promoting is a coalition of candidates who are "regressive on corporate power."

Others similarly panned the billionaires' ambitions as yet another "centrist push" that runs counter to the prevailing agenda of the grassroots, which has of late ramped up calls for the Democratic Party to push aggressively for programs like Medicare for All and free public college tuition.

"Win the Future's technocratic bent seems to ignore the unexpected success of President Donald Trump and the competitive bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), both of whom ran populist campaigns against the reigning financial elite and the power it exerts in politics," noted The Huffington Post's Daniel Marans.

According to recent polls, most Americans believe that the Democratic Party is already out of touch, and many Democrats are not optimistic about their party's prospects. Tech billionaires, progressives argued, are the opposite of what the party needs.

"The weakness of the Democratic Party is not due to an underrepresentation of venture capitalists and tech company board members," concluded Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works.


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