20 Top Progressive Leaders: Do They Speak to or for the Nonprofit Sector?

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January 9, 2012; Source: LexisNexis News (New Statesman) | In the recent past, some conservative critics have railed against nonprofits as the partners of government in an enterprise to move the United States toward a socialistic society. Separating nonprofits from government would revive the notion of nonprofits as “charities” and remove one of the pillars supporting the growth of government. The pundits and promoters of the conservative vision of government are well known to anyone with a cable TV hookup—including in the pantheon Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Mike Huckabee, Charles Krauthammer . . . and probably half the candidates running in the Republican presidential primaries, as well as several holding onto their seats in the House and the Senate.

So who’s on the other side? The British magazine, New Statesman, has on its cover a peeling picture of the iconic red, white, and blue picture of candidate Barack Obama, with the title, “Forget Obama”. Its lead story asks, “Who are the new leaders of the American left?” The author, Mehdi Hasan, suggests that Obama is far from a socialist, or if he is, it’s a pretty confused free-market version of one, unless the observer is a Republican critic of “Obamacare” as socialized medicine. Hasan’s NS article lists “20 leading American progressives who are keeping the cause alive,” the cause being socialism, or, as Hasan puts it, “left-wing social democratic ideals.” Since we have written about some of these people online in the Nonprofit Quarterly without any conscious notion of their being avatars of socialism, we offer you the list as well as links to NPQ articles that may have referenced them.

Rachel Maddow, MSNBC news anchor

Noam Chomsky, theorist 

Paul Krugman, economist (on the continuing recession, lauding the Occupy Wall Street movement, calling Obama’s proposed budget freeze “appalling”)

Jon Stewart (challenging Obama’s resistance to transparency) and Stephen Colbert (on his PAC and on his campaign finance knock-knock joke)

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood leader

Cornel West (suggesting Obama’s policies have “racist effects”) and Tavis Smiley, poverty activists (on their joint “Poverty Tour”)

Van Jones, environmental activist (moderating a discussion at an annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative)

David Graeber, anthropologist, Occupy Wall Street activist 

Elizabeth Warren, senate candidate (criticized by Republicans for taking a Harvard salary during her senatorial campaign and several stories about Alan Khazei’s brief run opposing her nomination)

Matt Damon, actor (among 2011’s most charitable celebrities)

Keith Ellison, congressman and co-chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus (his proposed Put America to Work Act and his opposition to food stamp cuts)

Sonia Sotomayor, Supreme Court (immigration-organizing issues related to her nomination to the Supreme Court)

Markos Moulitsas, editor, Daily Kos

Danny Glover, actor and activist

Angela Davis, activist

Glenn Greenwald, blogger, Salon (citing his criticism of Occupy critics)

Tim Robbins, actor and film director

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor, the Nation (criticized by American Prospect writer Wendy Kaminer)

Michael Moore, activist, filmmaker and writer (his plan to create nonprofit movie theaters,  his close friendship with Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, and showing up to support OWS)

Bernie Sanders, senator (on what motivates tax cutters, his FOIA on the Federal Reserve’s bailout of troubled banks, his disclosure of corporate tax evaders, and his support for community health centers)

Would anyone like to add or subtract, particularly with a message for the nonprofit sector?—Rick Cohen

  • Marcus

    Melissa Harris Perry, Angela Glover Blackwell, Dr. Emmett Carson, Cheryl Dorsey,