If you want to get a feel for how American politics really works, as opposed to the way they tell you it works, look no farther than what’s going on behind the scenes at the new political action group started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and dozens of other Silicon Valley tech leaders.
This organisation, FWD.us, describes itself as a nonpartisan entity dedicated to promoting immigration reform, education reform, and the “knowledge” economy.
The knowledge economy, Mark Zuckerberg explained in a recent Washington Post editorial, is based on education and technology and is distinct from the old economy, which was based on natural resources (oil, gas, etc.)
FWD.us is supported by a who’s who of Silicon Valley elite, including:
- Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
- Marissa Mayer (Yahoo CEO)
- Bill Gates (Gates Foundation)
- Ron Conway (SV Angel)
- Reid Hoffman (Founder, LinkedIn)
- John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins)
- Jim Breyer (Accel)
- Drew Houston (Dropbox founder and CEO)
Given that the current focus of FWD.us is “immigration reform” and promoting the knowledge economy, and given the general support of Silicon Valley for President Obama and environmental conservation, you would not expect FWD.us to be using its money to trash the President and promote Big Oil policies that many environmentalists abhor.
But that’s exactly what FWD.us is bankrolling.
Josh Israel and Judd Legum of ThinkProgress reveal that FWD.us is funding ads that attack President Obama and Obamacare and promote the Keystone oil pipeline and drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
For example, here’s an ad produced by a FWD.us subsidiary called “Americans For A Conservative Direction.” The ad supports Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and praises him for supporting the Keystone Pipeline, trashing Obama and Obamacare, and dissing our current government as “Chicago-style politics” (another shot at Obama). The ad does not mention immigration reform.
FWD.us funds another subsidiary that supports Democrats–“Council For American Side Of The Aisle.” This subsidiary produced an ad celebrating Alaska Senator Mark Begich for advocating drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary that many environmentalists should be left untouched. This ad also does not mention immigration reform.
ThinkProgress concludes that what FWD.us is trying to do with these ads is buy support for immigration reform by greasing senators on both sides of the aisle. To get the support of these senators, FWD.us is funding the promotion of causes and people that Mark Zuckerberg, John Doerr, and many of its other backers may find appalling.
The head of communications for FWD.us seems to agree with this assessment, telling ThinkProgress the following:
“FWD.us is committed to showing support for elected officials who promote the policy changes needed to build the knowledge economy. Maintaining two separate entities, Americans for a Conservative Direction & the Council for American Job Growth, to support elected officials across the political spectrum – separately – means that we can more effectively communicate with targeted audiences of their constituents.”
In other words, to get immigration reform, we need votes. And we’ll say whatever we need to to get those votes.
Welcome to American politics…
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