Progressives Go to War Against Bush

  • Public-Policy Reform
  • 2003

Early in the war on terror, elected Democrats mostly avoided harsh criticism of the commander in chief. But liberal donors George Soros and Peter Lewis were vehemently opposed to President Bush and the military actions launched after 9/11, so they jointly donated about $40 million to a political-influence effort called America Coming Together, a 527 political action committee. With that seed money, the organization collected another $200 million in large and small gifts from liberal donors, and used the funds to set up voter-mobilization machinery in every battleground state, flooding the airwaves with issue-advocacy commercials during the 2004 elections. ACT was the largest nonprofit political action effort in history to that point, and succeeded in increasing turnout on the left. Nonetheless, George Bush defeated John Kerry for President, and Soros and Lewis, expressing “disappointment,” pulled all their funding. ACT, which had intended to become a permanent force in liberal politics, shut down.

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