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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 07.25.19

Thursday, July 25, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

#INTERNEDITION TRAINING: POWERFUL SUCCESS

We at the Democracy Initiative want to thank all of the amazing participants who attended our 2nd Annual Democracy Champions #InternEdition Training. The interns meaningfully engaged in the training exercises and thoughtfully provided feedback in a way that deeply inspired us. Our participants and trainers, in accordance with the principles of the DI, created a safe space that allowed them to fully participate in this challenging training.

Many interns expressed a desire to have another training to gain an even deeper understanding of democracy, as well as go on to incorporate democracy reform into their future community engagement!

"Everything I learned today was powerful. Everything. Not knowing what to expect, I had such a good experience literally from the beginning to the end. Everyone that was here, everyone that spoke—they were all encouraging, they made it very interactive, fun, easy to understand and engage." —Aneesa Rekha, Intern with American Studies Fund

If you would like to host a Democracy Champions Training for your community or your members, please contact our Training & Movement Building Coordinator Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

OUR MOVEMENT MUST MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE

As we think about making transformative change, it is important to take a step back and look at the lay of the land. There is a lot of back and forth about polls—who is up, who is down and in which states; how popular or unpopular policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All are, etc.—but it is easy to forget that most people are not only too busy dealing with the issues that affect their daily lives to pay attention, that they also are often left behind by their elected officials and even progressive organizations, who can sometimes speak in an insider and insulated manner.

To quote the introduction to April 2018 polling from the Edward M. Kennedy Center for the United States Senate:

“Voters express dissatisfaction with the performance of Congress and want senators who are responsive to the people they represent. At the same time, the data points to an American electorate that lacks basic knowledge about our political system.”

For example:

At the time the poll was taken (June 5 – 13 of 2018), almost 4 in 10 voters could not recall having heard anything about the Senate nor their Senators. The most common topics recalled were related not to policy nor legislation, but were about election campaigns.

While we acknowledge that the polling showcases data gathered over a year ago, it nevertheless demonstrates a powerful disconnect between Senators and the communities they supposedly represent. Once Senators are elected, the way the system operates allows them to become untethered from their constituents’ concerns and interests, free to cater to big donors and corporations. The level of political education in communities with unaccountable elected officials is not a coincidence. The American people are not ignorant to the fundamental brokenness of the Senate—they know that many of their elected officials are working for wealthy interests, not for them. We must call on our Senators, among others, to be present in and accountable to their communities, and to reground themselves.  

At the same time, the progressive community can learn lessons from the polling as well. Progressive organizations must recognize that, in a time when the Senate lies in profound dysfunction, when the administration doles out billions of taxpayer dollars as spoils to insiders and corporations, and when the needs of everyday people are ignored by elected officials, we must engage people where they are, not speak over their real concerns. How can Americans be expected to mobilize for increased election infrastructure funding when they don’t even know what their Senator has been doing in office? We must always keep in mind that our movement’s goal is not to empower the people, but help people to empower themselves.

We urge all of our partners to take a moment to review the sobering conclusions of the poll's findings.

COALITION PARTNER CORNER—TAKE ACTION

CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER CALL-IN EVENT

Fines and fees are creating a system where voters are kept from the ballot simply on the basis of wealth. Our commitment to a strong democracy fully representative and accountable to the people demands that we eliminated all barriers to the vote.

Join Campaign Legal Center's call-in event on Thursday, July 25 to learn more about how the criminal justice system affects voting rights in the United States

JOIN US: JULY 31 MOBILIZING MEETING: NATIONAL POLLING ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Wednesday, July 31, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing Call on Wednesday, July 31 at 3pm EST.

Next Wednesday, we'll be joined by Civiqs Director & Chief Scientist Drew Linzer and Director of Research Rachel Sinderbrand, who do polling for DI partner DailyKos. Civiqs will talk about recent national polling that they’ve done on campaign finance and impeachment, with opportunities to join in discussions about messaging strategy and narrative development.

For more information and to RSVP, email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: STATE UPDATES

FLORIDA—STUDENTS IMPACTED BY NEW POLLING PROVISION

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed S.B. 7066 into law, many of our coalition partners and allies rightly criticized the bill for imposing a modern day “poll tax,” which disproportionately penalizes the poor and members of marginalized communities. A provision within the bill that received little coverage, however, will additionally suppress the voices of many young people. The provision imposes a requirement for polling centers that will affect college students all across Florida: an increase of mandated parking spaces for voting centers, which is already a huge challenge on college campuses. The vote of college students will be suppressed as a result, since many campuses cannot meet the required space.

Read more here.

NORTH CAROLINA—VOTER ID LAW TO TAKE EFFECT FOR 2020

On July 22, a panel of three state judges threw out most of a case that claimed Black voters will suffer disproportionate penalties as a result of a new law requiring voter ID for the 2020 elections. Despite voter ID laws’ widely documented history of deliberate, targeted discrimination toward nonwhite communities, the judges decided that the law will remain in place for 2020 unless otherwise ordered. The situation is even more grave considering the importance of North Carolina’s electoral votes to next year’s election, one of the most important in our lifetimes—it’s completely unacceptable that North Carolinians’ voices risk being shut out of the democratic process with so much at stake.

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE—GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING INTERN

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 72 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented Grassroots Mobilizing Intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots Mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

See the full posting here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE—COMMUNICATIONS INTERN

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 72 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented Communications Intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the Communications Strategist, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. This is a paid internship.

See the full posting here.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS—NATIONAL ORGANIZING DIRECTOR

DI partner League of Women Voters is seeking a National Organizing Director, who will be responsible for developing and driving the League of Women Voters’ organizing strategy to build the long-term grassroots power at the state and national levels necessary to secure transformative wins that address the fundamental inequities built into our democracy. This is a senior level management position. This is a supervisory position that directs national LWVUS organizing staff, and in major priority campaigns, works closely with state and local volunteer field teams.

See the full posting here.

TAKE ON WALL STREET—EDUCATION & ADVOCACY COORDINATOR

DI partner Take On Wall Street is seeking a highly motivated self-starter with a passion for economic, racial, and gender justice, and have a demonstrated ability to work well with a diverse team of colleagues and allies for their Education & Advocacy Coordinator position.

The Take On Wall Street campaign came together to build a financial system for white, black, and brown working families, not big Wall Street banks. In the spring of 2016, over 50 groups decided to work together to envision a better financial system, train activists, cultivate champions, and fight for policy change to address the predatory economic power of big Wall Street banks and billionaires, and build a financial system for all of us.

Read the full posting here.

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