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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 10.05.2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Acting on Thoughts & Prayers

We join people across the country in mourning the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday night that took the lives of 58 people and injured more than 500. We condemn this act of domestic terrorism. Many have been building a grassroots effort to address the epidemic of gun violence and the influence of the gun industry on safety laws in America. What is difficult is that we are not seeing changes, particularly when there is clear and overwhelming support. Most Americans are dissatisfied with current laws and policies on guns, according to a 2016 Gallup poll.

When 307 (87%) of the current members of Congress have received a combined $3.5 million from the NRA, it is clear that they do not serve the will of the people whom elected them. When gun industry stock rises following a mass shooting, it is clear corporations are profiting off of people’s fears. When doctors, nurses, and hospitals are ill-equipped to treat gun victims because of a federal ban on firearms research (thanks to the gun lobby), it is clear health care is not a priority for some elected leaders.

We must move our thoughts and prayers into action and real solutions to prevent the next tragedy from taking away someone’s mother, father, son, or daughter. We must create a grassroots demand to reduce the amount of monied interests in our governance and elections while expanding Voting Rights.

We call upon our elected leaders and communities to come together to not only support those who lost loved ones but to address gun violence across our country. Let’s break our silos to demand democracy reforms that shift our political landscape over the long haul. Winning bans on assault weapons, regulating the use of silencers, and creating universal background checks for firearms, means moving elected officials to act on the will of the people.

Every American deserves to live free from violence. We must say “No more!” and show elected leaders that there is a grassroots demand for common sense solutions to stop the violence. This is our democracy.

Partisan Gerrymandering Takes Center Stage at the Supreme Court

When politicians, not the people, decide who gets elected that's not democracy. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford about partisan gerrymandering - when officials (usually elected leaders) draw district lines in ways that give one party an advantage over another. Democracy advocates were out in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday calling for fair maps and an end to gerrymandering. Distorted maps distort our politics and our policies, impacting our lives, our communities, and our workplaces.

Daring Democracy Discussion - October 24

Small Planet Institute (new DI partner) has released Daring Democracy by Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen. The book celebrates the accomplishments of our democracy movement and includes interviews and quotes from Wendy Fields, Sierra Club and other democracy partners.

SAVE THE DATE: The Democracy Initiative will host Frances Moore Lappé on October 24 at Busboys & Poets (5th Street) in Washington DC. Books will be available for sale at the event.

Email Elana at eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org for more information or to RSVP.

Invest in a People-Powered DC

There is growing support for the Fair Elections Act in the District of Columbia. It would give everyday voters in all wards the opportunity to support and elect candidates that truly reflect their communities.

Too often wealthy special interest have had a voice in politics and policy. In DC politics the donor class is older, whiter, wealthier, and more male than the population as a whole.

Now the people have a chance to have a stronger voice with a small donor empowerment program that matches funds raised from small contributions.

Invite your member to be part of the October 11 Meet-up with DC Councilmembers and D.C. Fair Elections members at Busboys & Poets (625 Monroe St NE) from 6:30-9:00pm. RSVP to attend.

Has your organization added your name to the sign-on letter? Deadline to sign-on is October 13.      

In Pursuit of an Informed Citizenry: Freedom of the Press in the Trump Era

Common Cause will be hosting a panel on freedom of the press in the era of Trump on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 2:00PM at the National Press Club.

Politicians have always had an adversarial relationship with the press—but never in recent memory has the press been subject to the sort of criticism waged by President Trump. This panel will examine the role that the press plays in a democracy—watchdogging abuses of power; informing citizens; ferreting out corruption; and providing an outlet for leaks. Topics will include pressures, both political and economic, on the press; protections for leakers and those who report leaks; challenges that news organizations face and how journalists in newsrooms are responding; what consumers of news can do to support fact-based journalism; and how to defend the values of a free press when some citizens are persuaded that the media is the “enemy.”

Stranglehold: Oil & Gas Money is Choking Our Democracy

Clean Water Action released a new report that shows the extreme spending by wealthy special interest groups" public policy outcomes that reflect the priorities of the oil and gas industry and not the American people."

Now more than ever, we need to demand common sense reforms to get big money out of our politics at the local, state, and national level. We are doing this across the country! Kudos to Clean Water Action on this report and taking action to hold leaders accountable.

Update: The Fight for Fair Elections Continues in Connecticut

Thanks to your calls, the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP) remains safe for now. Governor Malloy vetoed a harmful budget that would have eliminated the CEP, a program that has shifted the power away from corporation and moneyed interests for over a decade. There is an attempt to override the veto. We will let you know if more action is needed. Thank you to all the members and coalition partners in Connecticut for talking action and stepping up from small donors and fair elections!

Give everyday People a Bigger Voice in Oregon!

The success and growing demand for small donor programs is all about empowering voters to have a stronger voice, encouraging community candidates to run, holding leaders accountable, and blunting the influence of moneyed interests that try to sway our elections and our policies.

Oregon wants to build an inclusive democracy where everyone participates, every vote is counted, and everyone’s voice is heard. Make sure your members in Oregon know about the Small Donor Elections bill and let’s show legislators that folks on the ground care about this deeply.

Visit our action page for resources and sample emails.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

Bi-Monthly Mobilizing Meeting


October 18 at 3pm EST / 12pm PST

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

Our bi-monthly meetings to make decisions on field strategy and move actions  both at the national and state level so we can collaborate and move democracy reforms effectively. All DI Members are welcome

SAVE THE DATE: Annual Meeting December 14

The DI board invites all partners to join us for the December Annual Meeting on Thursday, December 14th, 2017 from 1:00pm-4:30pm ET.  

Following the meeting there will be a reception to honor and appreciate "Democracy Champions!"

Pictured left to right: Derrick Johnson, NAACP; Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause; Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO; Wendy Fields, Democracy Initiative, Larry Cohen, CWA/Our Revolution; Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA; Michael Brune, Sierra Club)

Email gkassa@democracyinitiative.org with any questions!

All of Us or None of Us: AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention Diversity Pre-Conference - October 21st

Only if we stay united can we organize tomorrow's workforce, build political power for working people, and defend out dignity and rights at work.  Join the AFL-CIO, union members, leaders, and community partners for a day of inspiration and action-oriented workshop from prominent civil and women's rights leaders on October 21st, in St. Louis, MO. Register here:  http://bit.ly/AFLCIO2017-allofus


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