I am confused by the reviewers of this book who act as if "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" was a polemical attack on leftist ideology. Liberal reviewers denounce the book, and some conservative reviewers are gloating about it. Did we read the same book?
Byron York's "The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" is a detailed political analysis of the Left's unprecedented organization in the 2004 election. The most committed elements of the American Left came together like never before to defeat George W. Bush. Independent activists like George Soros, Michael Moore, MoveOn.org, America Coming Together, Air America, and the Center for American Progress emerged and circumvented the traditional party structure in order to ensure Bush's defeat.
In spite of the money and effort poured into the cause, Bush, of course, won the race by 3 percent. York's diagnosis is that the new players -- MoveOn, ACT, etc. -- essentially were preaching to the choir, while the whole time thinking they were forging a broad, national, anti-Bush consensus.
Drawing from interviews with key operatives, York documents the inside story of the 527s and other new groups that emerged in 2004. He demonstrates how MoveOn.org grew from an idea into a powerhouse of the Left; how America Coming Together grew out of MoveOn; how George Soros became interested, got involved, and legitimated MoveOn and ACT; and how these fringe groups found themselves at the center of the Democrats' run for the presidency. He also documents how these groups stretched the campaign finance law that they had so vigorously supported.
But the scary part is this: York, a columnist for National Review, notes that in the wake of conservative icon Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat to Lyndon Johnson, conservatives took decades to build the institutions of the conservative movement that we know and love today (a network of think tanks, grassroots issue-based groups, talk radio shows, etc.). Now, the 2004 election could be for liberals what that 1964 election was for conservatives: a turning point. But conservatives took decades to overcome the Democratic majority (at least in Congress). Conservatives today don't have that big a majority and the Dems are nevertheless organizing to re-establish a sizeable political majority of their own. Just today (8/7/05), there was a Washington Post story about rich liberals pouring money into creating new "progressive" think tanks.
"The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy" is a warning for conservatives, one which they would be wise to take seriously.