In a bare-bones room on the second floor of an office building blocks away from the Capitol lies one of the more influential political operations in Washington D.C.
Roughly forty staffers sit along white tables in the room, only a handful of whom even the biggest political junkies would know by name. They work in relative silence, staring into one of the two computer monitors in front of them, headphones covering their ears. On the walls are mounted a dozen 42-inch televisions turned to one of the three major cable news networks. Pipes are exposed in the ceiling above and the cement floor below has no carpeting, revealing painted instructions for future movers. Off to the side, a server gives off a heated, humming sound.
It is in that server that the one of the largest collections of campaign-related video footage will soon to be stored. American Bridge 21st Century is a relatively new Democratic operation — conceived by David Brock, the founder of the highly successful progressive media tracking organization Media Matters, and run by former high-ranking Hill and campaign staffers — but its ambitions, as exemplified by plans for that server, are far-reaching: The group aims to redefine the art of opposition politics.
“I think I can do this better,” Bradley Beychok, American Bridge’s campaign director recalled Brock telling him just before Beychok came onboard. “I think I can do this smarter. I think I can do this on a larger scale.”
As the 2012 campaign gears up, outside groups like American Bridge are indeed working on a larger scale, certainly when viewed in the context of recent Democratic Party history. In 2008, the Obama campaign urged donors to funnel their contributions straight into their coffers — thereby depriving other organizations of desperately needed funds — but there have been no such directives this cycle. When two high-ranking White House officials set off to start a group of their own, no one stood in their way. The result was Priorities USA and Priorities USA Action, a non-profit and super PAC hybrid.
Published: Nov 17, 2011