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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 02.01.18

Thursday, February 1, 2018

THE STATE OF OUR UNION

 

The vision for democracy is clear – from protecting our environment, to safeguarding our civil rights, to making sure all workers have the right to organize and fight for an economy that works for all, we create a reflective democracy when we take action collectively. For the 64 DI partners representing more than 40 million members, we need a 21st century democracy that gives everyone a voice to advocate for the kitchen table issues that matter most and to hold elected leaders accountable at every level of government.

The fight for democracy has never been more critical. As anti-democracy forces attempt to shrink the power of our grassroots, the Democracy Initiative is ready and prepared to mobilize millions in states across the country. Our union is strong when we stand in solidarity for one another and create the demand for a democracy that works for all, not just corporations and the wealthy elite.

As highlighted in The Art of the Lie, a report released by Common Cause and Democracy 21, the current administration lacks integrity and accountability when it comes to serving the American people. The report notes that, “In the one year since he swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, President Trump’s failures on government integrity and accountability continue to reach new lows.”

The Democracy 365 campaign is our opportunity to build a 21st century democracy by protecting and expanding voting rights, removing the influence of corporations and big money in our elections and governance, and creating fair representation for all people. Ready to lean into priority DI democracy reform campaigns in Florida, Michigan, Maryland and more? Contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org to discuss national and state opportunities for your organization.

TIME TO PASS & FUND DC FAIR ELECTIONS – NEXT VOTE: FEBRUARY 6, 2018!

The second crucial vote for the Fair Elections Act of 2017 is schedule for February 6, 2018. Earlier this month the DC Council voted unanimously in support of a people-powered democracy that gives communities the ability to support candidates and elected officials that represent their needs, not corporate interests. We will need to secure funding for fair elections after the vote on February 6.

All national partners are encouraged to amplify the importance of fair elections with this digital toolkit. Post a message on Facebook and/or Twitter to support fair elections.

To date, over 5000 petitions have been delivered, over 80 community leaders and 70 organizations are signed on in support, and we have 13 council members who have said YES to fair elections either by co-introducing, co-sponsoring, or voting to advance the bill.

Contact David Sanchez at dsanchez@democracyinitiative.org for information on how your organization can get involved.

THE FIGHT FOR A WORKING DEMOCRACY – DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE PRESENTATION TO HARVARD TRADE UNION

Last week Wendy Fields and Miles Rapoport, Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School, gave a presentation on “The Fight for a Working Democracy” to the Harvard Trade Union. Here is an excerpt from their presentation:

For the last forty years, a determined attack on our democracy has been funded by a small cadre of right wing billionaires. The leaders of this effort are determined to ensure that the decisions of government benefit the corporations and the wealthy, and they have recognized that in order to win on the substance—taxation, deregulation, shrinking government, preventing redistribution—they have to undercut the very structures of our democracy.

This assault has had four key elements: the attack on voting rights; the undermining of any controls on big money in our elections; the gerrymandering of districts for partisan domination; and—critically --the attack on the labor movement.

The DI emphasizes bringing the grassroots strength of membership organizations to bear on democracy issues. The emphasis is on educating and mobilizing the membership, so that it isn’t only a handful of policymakers, advocates, and litigators who are engaging on them.

 

WATCH DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE AT UNRIG – FEBRUARY 1-4, 2018

Unrig Summit: Convening the Brightest Minds from the Right and Left to Fix American Politics

February 1-4 in New Orleans, LA.

The Democracy Initiative will be well represented at the Unrig Summit in New Orleans with many staff and principals as featured speakers, including Executive Director Wendy Fields. DI partners speaking at the summit include Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Spring, Demos, Every Voice, Friends of the Earth, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Maryland Working Families, Our Revolution, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, ReThink Media, and Small Planet Institute.

This is no ordinary conference. No endless panels and speeches. This is about crossing partisan and ideological divides and working together on concrete solutions to unrig America’s political system.

WATCH LIVE on Saturday, February 3: There will be a special presentation by Wendy Fields and France Moore Lappé (Small Planet Institute) during the morning plenary session on Saturday.

Watch the livestream at https://unrigsummit.com/rsvp-summit-livestreams/.

 

FAIR ELECTIONS BILL INTRODUCED IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MD!

This week Prince George’s County Council Member Mary Lehman introduced legislation to establish the “Fair Election Fund” (CB-004-2018). This is a big step forward for advocates of fair elections in Maryland. If passed, Prince George’s would become the third county to adopt public financing for local elections – public financing was adopted in Howard County in 2016 and Montgomery County in 2014, where the first elections under the new system are underway.

An analysis by MD PIRG of the first campaign reports for Montgomery County candidates shows that candidates participating in the public election system are connecting with more small donors than candidates who opted for traditional financing.

All national partners are encouraged to amplify the importance of fair elections by posting a message on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Contact David Sanchez at dsanchez@democracyinitiative.org for information on how your organization can get involved.

TAKE ACTION: SIGN THE PETITION TO GOV. CUOMO TO FUND EARLY VOTING – DEADLINE FEBRUARY 12, 2018

The Let NY Vote Coalition is making significant progress in building public support for early voting and other election reforms in New York. Governor Cuomo released his Executive Budget which includes Early Voting – a big first step for advocates - but leaves the onus on counties to implement and fund. We need to make sure funding is included at the state level.

Invite your members to sign the Let NY Vote petition by February 12, 2018 at http://www.letnyvote.org/petition.

You can promote on social media using the coalition’s grassroots toolkit. Share on Facebook and Share on Twitter.

If your organization would like more information, please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

PROMOTE THE VOTE MICHIGAN WEBINAR – FEB. 21: LET’S MAKE VOTING A SURE THING IN MICHIGAN

Promote the Vote Michigan launched last week to expand and protect voting rights for all. The Democracy Initiative is proud to endorse this campaign as part of our Democracy 365 campaign to increase participation in democracy across the United States. Promote the Vote is a grassroots campaign of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that voting works for all Americans. When we increase the number of people that can participate in democracy, the stronger democracy is for everyone. Now is the time for secure and accessible elections for all so that every person has the ability to advocate for kitchen table issues in their community.

SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, February 21 for a webinar with campaign organizers on how DI partners can engage in Michigan.

If your organization would like to get involved in next steps to help expand and protect voting in Michigan, please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE IS UNDER ATTACK – STAND WITH LABOR & JOIN BRIEFING ON FEBRUARY 7, 2018

This month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Janus v. AFSCME, a lawsuit that challenges the right of public employee unions to collect fees that go towards their union representation in collective bargaining. The case is just one example of the continued attack on the labor movement by anti-democracy groups. Unions and union members have been on the frontlines of the fight for economic and social justice.

SEIU and Communications Workers of America will provide a briefing to DI partners on Wednesday, February 7 during the mobilization meeting. This is a critical opportunity for DI partners to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the labor movement. Please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for more information.

STAND UP FOR STRONG UNIONS JOIN WORKING PEOPLE’S DAY OF ACTION - FEBRUARY 24, 2018

On February 24, join thousands of working people and our allies and stand up for our freedom to come together in strong unions and fight. Fight for equitable pay. Fight for affordable health care, quality schools, vibrant communities and a secure future for all of us. Demand an end to a system that’s rigged against working people.

Find a local event at http://www.itsaboutfreedom.org.

Download the toolkit for the day of action via Dropbox.

ADD YOUR ORGANIZATION TO EVERYONE VOTES MARYLAND SIGN-ON LETTER – LET’S ENSURE ALL VOTERS CAN PARTICIPATE IN DEMOCRACY!

Voting is the most essential form of political expression. We invite DI partners to sign-on to a letter of support for automatic voter registration (AVR) and election day registration (EDR) for Marylanders. The Everyone Votes Maryland coalition is calling on the General Assembly to take action to ensure that all voters in the state can fully participate in democracy.

View sign-on letter. If your organization would like to support voting reforms in Maryland, please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

ISO: AN ORGANIZATION INTERESTED IN COORDINATING MOVIES AROUND DEMOCRACY REFORMS

Recently, the DI has received a number of requests from filmmakers to host and share movies. As we do not have the capacity to take on this coordination. We are looking for an organization to work with us on coordinating and assessing interest in groups hosting a film screening. As you know, movies about democracy can be great way to engage members or participants at a conference/convening.  If your organization can provide some support, please contact Elana Orbuch at eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DI Communications & Mobilization Intern

The Democracy Initiative is seeking a talented communications and mobilization intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the Director of Communications and Digital Media, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. Read more and apply.

Promote the Vote Michigan Campaign Manager

Promote the Vote is a grassroots campaign of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that voting works for all in Michigan. The Promote the Vote executive committee seeks a proven leader to serve as its campaign director to develop and implement a statewide campaign to pass a constitutional ballot amendment in November, 2018. This measure is designed to implement election reforms to update Michigan’s voting system and remove obstacles to participation. Candidates should have successful experience managing issue advocacy or ballot campaigns and leadership experience in statewide efforts that include coalition partnerships, lobbying, strategic communications, organizing, and electoral work. Read full job description.

Michigan Time to Care Campaign Manager

MI Time to Care is a Michigan statewide ballot campaign endeavoring to ensure all workers have access to earned paid sick time, an essential policy for helping low-wage workers stay above water financially. Currently, 70% of low-wage workers do not have access to earned paid sick time to take care of themselves or their families when they are sick. This means that when they have to stay home they miss a day’s pay and risk losing their job. It also means that many people go to work sick, which is not only a public health hazard, particularly in the case that they work with children, the elderly, or in the food industry, but also that they cannot recover as quickly and therefore are less productive at work. We are operating a statewide ballot campaign to give voters the opportunity to weigh in on this issue and to make progress for Michigan workers. The campaign is currently in the signature gathering phase. Read full job description.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

Add Your Input to the Democracy Reform Survey!

We’re ramping up our work in 2018 and we need input from you! Take a moment to fill out the engagement form to plug into 2018 campaigns and new opportunities. Your input will guide the resource and engagement decision-making process. CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT DEMOCRACY REFORM CAMPAIGN SURVEY.

Thank you to all those you have already filled out the survey.

If you would like to fill out the survey with assistance, please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

 

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
RSVP to gkassa@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org

Our bi-monthly meetings focus on field strategy with groups working both at the national and state level so we can collaborate and move democracy reforms effectively. All DI Members are welcome. Email gkassa@democracyinitiative.org with any questions!

Next Meeting: February 7 and February 21


DI Communications Working Group

Monthly on 4th Thursday of every month at 1pm

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.

RSVP to mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org

Next Meetings: February 22 and March 22


Popular Education – Democracy Champions Train the Trainers Wanted: Train the Trainer

Train the Trainer Q&A Webinar during the Mobilization Meeting on February 7, 2018

**NEW DATE ** March 3-4, 2018

RSVP to gkassa@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org

The DI’s “Democracy Champions” popular education program will launch in early 2018. We motivate, educate, and empower the membership of our partner organizations to support grassroots democracy campaigns to build power and advance our issues. We engage grassroots members around race and class in ways that build solidarity, reduce division, and make the link between kitchen table issues (healthcare, workers’ rights, and environmental issues) and democracy reforms (automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, vote by mail, and publicly financed small donor elections). Democracy Champions is a key component of building power locally. We are committed to align our popular education training with local and state campaigns.

There are three ways your organization can participate:

  • Train-the-trainer trainings for staff members/activists to become Democracy Champions trainers.
  • Host a Democracy Champion training
  • Alignment with existing membership education (aligning the Democracy Champions curriculum with an existing membership education program in your organization).

Ready to motivate, engage, and empower your members? Contact Getachew Kassa (gkassa@democracyinitiative.org) for more information.

 


Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy or a conference? Email Michelle (mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

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