In 2005 Steve Malanga, a contributing editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote a book entitled “THE NEW NEW LEFT: How American Politics Works Today”. Here is how a Manhattan Institute review sums up the book:
“A new dynamic has sprung up in American politics today: the contest between those who benefit from an ever-expanding public sector and those who pay for this bigger government—in other words, it’s the tax eaters vs. the taxpayers.
Steven Malanga shows how coalitions of public employee unions, workers at government-funded social service organizations, and recipients of government benefits have seized control of the politics of the big cities that make up the heart of Blue America. In New York City, this coalition has helped roll back some of the reforms of the Giuliani years. In California cities and towns, it is thwarting the expansion of private businesses. In nearly 100 municipalities, it has imposed higher costs on tens of thousands of firms by passing “living-wage” laws. Whereas the New Left of the 1960s believed—idealistically, if somewhat naively—that government could solve the biggest problems of our times, this New New Left is much more narrowly and cynically focused on expanding government programs to increase its own power, pay, and perks. And, as Malanga shows, the New New Left is emerging as the most powerful element of the national Democratic Party coalition.”
Another major participant in the “tax eaters” coalition is the sector of our society referred to as nonprofits. The same year his book came out, Mr. Malanga participated in a conference sponsored by the Hudson Institute entitled: “WHEN NONPROFITS ATTACK: Nonprofit Organizations as Political Advocates“. The conference starts out by raising the following question:
“The IRS Internal Revenue Service withholds nonprofit status from organizations where a “substantial part of the activities… is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislations.” But nonprofits can and do engage in the political process, with fellow 501(c)(3) groups such as the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest and Alliance for Justice to guide them. Matter of fact, some see political activism as a significant part of the nonprofit sector’s purpose. And yet the questions remain: Is activism a charitable activity? How far should charities go in engaging in politics? What does politics look like when it has been shaped by widespread nonprofit activism (as in, for example, New York City, according to panelist STEVEN MALANGA)?”
Both Mr. Malanga’s book and the Hudson Institute conference present this issue as largely affecting America’s inner cities. Here at True North, our research has led us to the conclusion that the problem described above aptly describes the state of Vermont and we hope to pull the curtain back bit on this matter. The following is an article which explores how the influence of nonprofits is driving a shift in the focus of Vermont’s political agenda during legislative sessions away from issues that politicians campaigned on and towards a controversial agenda favored by a particular interest:
The Nonprofits Driving Vermont’s Agenda