Major

Political Think Tanks, Foundations,
Publishers and Activist Groups

March 20, 2011

UPDATED: November 2016
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What Top U.S. Think Tanks Say They Work On
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Think Tanks Defined: A think tank (also called a policy institute) is an organization, institute, corporation, or group that conducts research and engages in advocacy in public policy. Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. While many think tanks are funded by governments, interest groups, or businesses, some think tanks also derive income from consulting or research work related to their mandate. In some cases, think tanks are little more than public relations fronts, usually headquartered in state or national seats of government and generating self-serving scholarship that serves the advocacy goals of their industry sponsors.

Over the past two to three decades, Think Tanks and activist organizations have played an increasingly larger role in advancing political ideology through funding political campaigns, structuring media / pundit talking points, writing desired legislation for national, state and local governments, pleading cases before courts, producing and editing educational material for schools and college's, etc. They "justify" their involvement by claiming they've performed extensive research which resulted in either what 'the people' want or what's best for the country.

However, most of today's research by these groups is meant to provide "documentation" to support what they're advocating. Therefore, one should not be deceived by these un-elected, un-appointed "government officials". In essence they are no different than lobbyist who are hired by special interest: They do the bidding of their funders who want a government that supports their own ideology and/or wishes & wants.

In 2006 there were 6,661 conservative or center-right think tanks, 8,307 centrist think tanks and 2,869 progressive or center- left think tanks. The most media-quoted are those who support conservative and/or ultra-conservative causes. Thousands of publishers and activist groups add to those numbers.

Many of these group come and go - especially those who support conservative causes. Others are absorbed by like or new groups. That is due mostly to losing credibility or becoming too toxic for the times. But their ideology follows them to their next cause.

Of notice is the "catchy" names most of these groups adopted - names that imply a very patriotic position to the democratic process. However, rarely does their agenda support a true democracy.

Below is a list of just a few of these groups. However, this is an evergreen list; therefore it will be updated periodically.

(Organizations that no longer exist as of this update are either not listed or have been struck out.

NOTE: The categorization of these groups is based on what they actually are. If you categorize groups and/or organizations based on whether or not they agree with your own ideology 101% of the time as opposed to say 95% of the time, then that’s your problem. Just because they disagree with you 5% of the time does not make them the exact opposite of what your beliefs are.

For example, Senator John McCain voted along Party lines 90% of the time (Congressional Quarterly's Voting Studies) during Bush's 8 years. Because of the 10% he did not vote with Bush, many claim McCain is not a real Republican. However, not a single elected Republican in Congress would call McCain anything other than Republican.

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Clarification: You will find some duplicates within different categories. That's because some listed under one group are also part of and/or support other groups.

Legend:
= Publisher or online news outlet

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