The Democracy Initiative – smart organizing at last?

Andy Kroll at MoJo reports on the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of 35 powerful liberal groups campaigning and lobbying on three initiatives to change the face of American politics.

At the end of the day, many of the attendees closed with a pledge of money and staff resources to build a national, coordinated campaign around three goals: getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation. The groups in attendance pledged a total of millions of dollars and dozens of organizers to form a united front on these issues—potentially, a coalition of a kind rarely seen in liberal politics, where squabbling is common and a stay-in-your-lane attitude often prevails. “It was so exciting,” says Michael Brune, the Sierra Club’s executive director. “We weren’t just wringing our hands about the Koch brothers. We were saying, ‘I’ll put in this amount of dollars and this many organizers.'”

The liberal activists have dubbed this effort the “Democracy Initiative.” The campaign, Brune says, has since been attracting other members—and also interest from foundations looking to give money—because many groups on the left believe they can’t accomplish their own goals without winning reforms on the Initiative’s three issues. “This isn’t an optional activity for us,” Brune tells me. “It is mission critical.”

The list of liberal groups involved is actually an impressive one and the logic is good. I’m all in favor of this initiative, it’s smart organizing at last and looking to more than just the next election season.

the Democracy Initiative is no flash in the pan; they’re in it for the long haul, for more than just this election cycle and the one after it. It took four decades, these leaders say, for conservatives to shape state and federal legislatures to the degree that they have, and it will take a long stretch to roll back those changes. “The game is rigged against us; the corporate right has done such a good job taking over the Congress and the courts,” Radford says. “We’re saying we need to step back and change the whole game.”

Such a pity it is being done for a President and party that are de facto the 1980s center-right, wouldn’t it be great if these people were also trying to build an actual party of the left too? Ah well, maybe – just a maybe – the Democracy Initiative will exert some of their undoubted clout to hauling both Obama and the Dems back leftwards a bit.

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