When I heard that a Firedoglake membership program was in the works, the first thing I thought about was the strings attached to money. Every dollar you contribute to someone or something (or have contributed to you) has a near-invisible gossamer thread of spider silk attached to it. It’s not strong enough to exert any kind of pull at all, but as the dollars get stacked into bigger and bigger piles, those delicate threads weave together into strings, then ropes, then cables, then giant thigh-thick hawsers.
And therein lies the catch-22 for FDL: A web community this large and this activist needs enough money to keep the servers running, to pay all the outstanding people who make it worth reading, and to seize opportunities when they emerge, whether it be sending correspondents to report on events as they unfold, or sending thousands of enema bags to Alan Simpson (Note: Hypothetical example by someone who sucks at these things – any actual FDL action would be much much cooler).
We could have followed the example of our elected officials: Bow and scrape before the people and organizations with lots of money and be forever at the mercy of the giant cables attached to all that cash. Sure, we’d continue to take contributions from regular folks, but we’d listen to the people writing the big checks. We’d drift to the center or the right, because money always pulls that way in its concentrated form, and most of us would melt away in disgust, to be replaced by Sensible Liberals and Obama diehards.
But instead of following that model and becoming the same kind of corrupt creatures we oppose, we chose a funding model where no one thread is thick enough to bind us, and where those threads reinforce our connections to the FDL community instead of breaking them. Rather than dragging us to the right, they will keep us anchored firmly where we belong, which is with you guys. We’re accountable to firepups, not sugar daddies.