the “WTF” plan to disrupt politics is everything that's wrong with silicon valley
The Democratic Party is, at this moment, in worse shape than practically any other time in modern history: While Barack Obama lent a liberal sheen to national politics, the rest of the country has experienced a conservative takeover at nearly every level of government. Over the last eight years, Democrats lost some 1,000 seats in federal and state governments. When Obama first took office, Democrats held 59 percent of state legislatures and 29 governor’s offices; now, they hold just 31 percent of state legislatures and 16 governor’s offices. Despite the rising tide of anti-Trump sentiment since the election in November, the Democratic Party seems to be rudderless, divided between establishment politicians who have been in power for decades and a young, far-left base that is eager for more radical change. At the same time, many members of the donor class, on both sides of the aisle, are agitating for a new approach: a technocratic, third-way party that would be socially liberal, business friendly, and open to bipartisan solutions. Something like Emmanuel Macron’s centrist En Marche party, or Jim VandeHei’s proposed Innovation Party, fronted by an outsider like Mark Zuckerberg or Sheryl Sandberg.
Zynga’s Mark Pincus and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman offer another, competing vision for reforming the Democratic Party: harnessing the power of the Internet to crowdsource ideas for a new center-left platform that’s guaranteed to be a hit with the Sun Valley set. “Win the Future,” which launched Tuesday, is “a new movement and force within the Democratic Party, which can act like its own virtual party,” Pincus told Recode’s Tony Romm, who has all the details on the new group:
The two Silicon Valley billionaires have committed $500,000 to the effort, which already has six employees, with additional backing from Jeffrey Katzenberg and venture capitalists Fred Wilson and Sunil Paul. Still, it’s not immediately clear what the group does, or will do, besides provide left-leaning billionaires an opportunity to exert more control over a Democratic Party organization they feel is insular, ossified, and resistant to change. “I just don’t feel respected in the political process as a large donor or as a citizen voter,” Pincus told Business Insider. “I just feel patronized. Everything I get is like, ‘Hey, you couldn’t possibly, it’s too complex and sophisticated what really goes on,’ and ‘Hey, leave it to us, and we will go and represent you and fight the good fight, and just give us money.’”
Nor is it clear what needs W.T.F. is designed to address. Pincus told Recode that he believes the Democratic Party is “already moving too far to the left,” and wants to position his group as “pro-social, pro-planet, and pro-business.” That’s a pretty safe political orientation for a tech mogul with a bottom line to worry about—and one that’s largely out of step with the momentum within the left toward more radical populists like Bernie Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist who also happens to be the most popular active politician in America. Win the Future had initially planned a “Primary Pelosi” billboard for the start of their campaign, with the intent to primary both House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi and longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein, but the group curiously pulled the idea at the last minute, telling Business Insider they decided to hold off while “looking to get more feedback from members.” Meanwhile, Recode reports, the group is also seeking “WTF Democrats” to upend the Democratic establishment, including, for example, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, who Pincus reportedly wanted to run against Feinstein.