THE BLOG
10/12/2006 03:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

November Proposal: A $100 Million Democracy Venture Fund To Change America

I have been quietly talking to many of the
"right people" about a proposal I will formally
make shortly after the election that would
create a Democracy Venture Fund that will
provide direct support to projects, sites and
ventures to promote people and ideas working for an enlightened America.

Right up front: the core group of 3-5 million
Americans who are the most progressive,
independent and committed have the unilateral
and pre-emptive power to make this happen.

This core group would have the unilateral and
pre-emptive power to use this platform of a
political, consumer and marketing alliance to
expand to groups measured in tens of millions
such as Hispanics, African Americans, women's
groups, labor, veterans and progressive Judeo-
Christian religious organizations for shared empowerment, values and
win-win financing.

Here is how it would work. For now do not
focus on the legalistic details, which are very
negotiable, but on the macro business strategy,
the empowerment plans for our people, and
the financial and social impact for our values.

The key: The most committed individual
progressives and independents would
involve ultimately 3-5 million people to
raise an initial $100 million capitalization.

Assume governance decisions will be made
by a 3 Member Board of Directors including
nationally respected "names you know".

Assume aggressive full disclosure of all
expenses so virtually zero of this money
would be wasted on huge classes of the
consultants and middlemen, with failed
and wrong business models, that turn
donations from small donors into huge
profits for middlemen that often reward
defeat.

Assume that donations to this Democracy
Venture Fund would be sought and treated
as pure donations for changing America, but,
if this venture succeeds financially, as I predict
it will, original donors would have first stake
in profit sharing and possibly a future I.P.O.

The power: there is enormous potential power
for democracy, capitalization, commerce and
reform in the many millions of Americans who
love our country, want change, and are looking for ways to act directly.

These good people are under-represented by the major media,
under-appreciated by national political leaders, under-funded by
Democratic financiers who lag 20 years behind their Republican
counter-parts. Properly organized
and honorably treated this vast constituency
of conscience and idealism can have great
and enormous power.

Think about it: a mass alliance of progressive
and independent voters and consumers would
have the power to negotiate historic consumer
e-commerce agreeements with major American
companies. Access to this huge customer base
would be granted along the lines of Olympic
sponsors, each bidding for rights to this huge
consumer base by offering the largest affinity
percentage to the Venture Fund.

There would be one home page that would
function as an alliance, attracting huge numbers of people with common
values,
creating powerful leverage with media,
advertisors, entertainerment and marketing.
Then funneling almost all of the revenue back
to individual sites, groups, on-line and off-line
at the grassroots and community level.

Therefore Company X would be the designated vendor by offering 20%
return to the Fund through products sold and alliances with sites that
already have existing but weaker deals.
It would involve win-win sharing of the greater
return created by this power alliance of our
consumers.

Many Fortune 1000 companies do corporate
philanthropy and cause-related marketing that
few customers know about. The Democracy
Venture Fund and its mass consumer base
would provide them the ultimate marketplace
of eyeballs that would be close to 100% in
favor of many of these projects and present
these companies with low cost, high impact
advertising opportunities that are far superior
to much advertising spending that is currently mistargeted or wasted.

The Principle Is: it is time organize and to
empower this huge constituency of patriotic
Americans who are tired of corruption in
politics and business and tired of being
treated like second class citizens. It is
time to unilaterally and pre-emptively bring
together vast constituencies for idealism
and to sit at the head table of money and
power, equal to our numbers and values.

Entertainment Superstars would have a
unique forum to support their benefit
projects and their commercial work by
collaborating with us. We would create
a permanent mass audience for superstar
projects and a mass market for low cost
internet broadcasts and downloading that
would bring money to our project, their
causes, and motion picture studios and
record labels that join us.

Next: this venture fund super-empowered by
people would make periodic alliances with
worthy groups for shared revenue from these
commerce ventures. We could work with large
women's groups supporting day care or breast
cancer treatment; work with large groups that support homeless vets and
wounded troops; work with religious groups and those supporting the poor
on holiday missions of help; and work with groups doing voter
registration especially
African-American and Hispanic groups, and
with their radio, television and internet sites
creating an overwhelming democracy machine
with enormous financial and media leverage.

There could be a giant mobilization around
a cause such as homeless veterans, the
homeless heroes that would reach a vast
audience of supporters that could tap a
hundred million Americans to raise a fortune
for a great cause, with even a small spinoff
of 2% to this venture capable of financing
future make-America-better projects.

Next: this venture fund could negotiate a
direct investment in Air America and weld
in, to Air America's business model, a hard
alliance with the progressive blogosphere
and new revenue streams from increased
audience and super-empowered e-commerce
revenue sharing.

Each of these alliances would use the leverage of our mass consumer
movement and loan it
or share it, which would give us the power to
make donations to good causes through profit
sharing with zero additional overhead, and in
the process increase the people power in our
alliance which will rise with every new alliance.

This Democracy Venture Fund would challenge
the constipated and conservative classes that
have warped major media and missed huge
advertising opportunities. By attracting a mass
consumer base to a central site, the major
Fortune 1000 companies would have no choice
and would purchase advertising space along
classic commercial lines. The central site
would then recycle this money, using it to
buy advertising time on progressive and
independent blogs, news sites, or cause-
related sites.

Lets be blunt and tough. The progressive
internet sites and independent news sites
reach countless millions of consumers, are
a major part of the core business of every
leading technology company. Yet these
companies often disrespect us by making
overwhelming political donations to our
opponents and using close to zero of their
corporate funds to advertise on our sites.

I will be sending this to the Chief Executive
Officer of Intel and other business leaders
I know with the direct challenge that their
management, corporate boards and investors
need to show respect and good business
sense with this enormous core base of their
customers. If they do not, we, their customers,
should take our business to competitors with
higher values and better business sense.

Whether it is Intel v. AMD, Apple v. Dell, we
should throw our numbers, our money and our
weight with those who stand with us the most,
at every opportunity. Some of our purchases
are based on favored products; others are
pure discretionary and we should use this
mega-billion dollar discretionary power to
reward companies that stand with us and
no longer reward those that do not.

The key: the centralizing power of our large
mass constituency would force commercial
powers our way; we would then have the power
and use it, to refunnel the money to diverse
and worthy sites which would make them far
stronger financially and empower their work.

Influencing Media: at a minimum this central
hub for enlightened consumers would have
the power to dramatically affect ratings for
individual shows on cable television, network
television, digital television and progressive
radio from Air America to Ed Schultz and
Stephanie Miller among many others. It
is high time we use this power aggressively.

The central site would include a TV Guide
and Radio Guide for progressive and politically
independent listeners and viewers that would
offer outlets free space to highlite programs
that directly excite our base.

We would have the power to dramatically promote individual shows and
significantly uptick their ratings and magnify our power.

We would have the option of buying our own commercial advertising to get
our message on their shows.

We would have the power to provide seed
money for major documentary movies (which
could be highly profitable, with profits recycled
to our participating sites and groups).

I predict it would not be long until media and
cable conglomerates put on more shows such
as Keith Olbermann, who speak to us, because
our numbers mean money and power for us,
ratings for them, or ratings for their competitors
if we take our eyeballs elsewhere.

I predict it would not be long before major
venture capital companies solicit us to provide
major new capitalization. I have talked to
several of them. They are interested in
principle; they still do not fully get it; but
they are coming close and when the train
starts to leave the station, major money will
move quickly and our decision will be whether
or not to take it.

We would have the clout to get far more of
our favored guests on their shows because
that is how the world works. There will be
be far more authentic voices for our mass
audience and far more writers, thinkers,
authors, voices for veterans, progressive
religious leaders, African-Americans, Hispanics
and high level women because we will use
our power, to give them power and platform.

It is ridiculous that a majority of the American
people are so grossly under-represented but
this can change in a heartbeat and we have
the power to do it. The Democracy Venture
Fund does not reinvent the wheel. It merely
combines the classic business models and
tactics of the conservative media and marketing
machine, traditional venture capitalist business,
and modern advertising with the organizing
principles of the great moments of the labor, civil rights and women's
movements.

Progressive And Independent Thinkers: with
a central hub attracting enormous page views
and grassroots support we would provide
progressive and independent authors, writers,
artisits with free or heavily discounted space
for advertising and promoting their work. This
would use our leverage for them, to spread
their ideas, finance their work, and increase
their influence.

For our voices, we will create the publishing
and media marketing powerhouse that the
right and Republicans have done for decades.

Major Motion Picture Studios: our vast hub
of progressive and independent consumers
would give us the clout to make mega deal
marketing alliances with major studios to
promote motion pictures with themes that
excite our base. Additionally we would have
the clout to promote those artists such as
George Clooney who share our ideals and
give special empowerment to artists who
have their own production companies.

In fact: once our own seed money is generated
we should initiate a road show to investment
managers for the major progressive movie,
television and music superstars to attract
their capital to empower our efforts, which
will promote their work.

Political Candidates And Elected Officials:
we would have the clout between elections
to offer on a rotating basis free space to
public officials to inform our base of their
initiatives to make America better. This
would benefit every Democratic elected
official who chooses to participate, and it
would be available between elections to
enlightened Republicans which would have
the effect of encouraging Republicans to defy
right wing leaders and powers in their party.

We would provide early stage free publicity
and fundraising power to reform candidates,
and build on the success of the Fighting Dems
and the major movement of Democrats which
has been highly successful this year, to run
candidates with military and intelligence
experience and appeal to giant constituencies
of military families who respect their service
and our support for them.

In the year of a national election, we would
offer discounted commercial advertising space
to candidates to make their pitch, and take
the revenue from those political ads and use
it, to provide financial support to grassroots,
blogosphere and public service causes and
sites.

Conclusion: time to open a new and great
debate and a new entreprenurial spirit of
empowerment and winning that will help
transform American politics, and help reform
American business.

It is absurd and ridiculous that progressives
lag twenty years behind conservatives in
applying entrepreneurial principles to media.
It is absurd that low ratings cable companies
so brazenly ignore our moral majority and
their programming often looks like a board
meeting of the Heritage Foundation. It is
ridiculous that what should be the people's
party lags years behind not only in getting
out its message, but getting out the vote.

It is time for action and alliance; time for
empowerment and power; time for the
majority to act like the majority, and be
treated like the majority. We have the
people, we have the numbers, we have
the money, we have the principles and
we have the power, if we recognize it,
to use it.

This note will be widely circulated; ideas
are welcomed; an updated version will be
posted in the near future while this is being
circulated both publicly and privately today.

It is time for the next great wave of patriotic
reform in America and if those of us who
want an even better America, will act together
to build it, it will happen far sooner than the
pundits and experts dare to think.