Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 12.6.18

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

DI Board & Principals Meeting

Thursday, December 13 at 3:30PM EST / 10AM PST

During the DI Annual Meeting, we heard from many of you about the 2019 lay of the land, your organizational priorities, and how we can deepen and strengthen our collaboration in the coming year. Your input and guidance is vital to helping the DI align resources and help to coordinate our collective efforts.

We would like to continue the strategic conversations on Senate rules the Federal Democracy Package Opportunity in our follow-up meeting on Thursday, December 13 from 3:30-4:30PM EST, with the rest of the DI Partners and principals that were unable to attend the Annual Meeting. We will be joined by Our Revolution Chair Larry Cohen.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Myke Bybee at


On November 6, 2018, voters elected new leadership and overwhelmingly voted for redistricting and voting rights reforms. Right now, in states across the Midwest and the South, lame duck lawmakers are committing outrageous and unprecedented abuses of power to override the will of the people. In Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina, Republican-led legislatures are working furiously to strip power from the newly elected Democrats and undermine the will of voters by weakening or overturning recently approved ballot measures.
In Michigan, state legislators voted to gut pro-democracy ballot initiatives, which expand voting rights and limit partisan gerrymandering. Both proposals were supported by the DI and our partners in Michigan, and easily passed with high voter support.
The fact is, we’ve seen dirty tricks like these before, and unless we fight back, we will see them again. And again. People of conscience must speak up and demand that the people’s will not be subverted by political power-grabs.
In Michigan: Call your State Representatives at (517)201-2258 and tell them to oppose the bill package (Senate Bills 1238-1242) that threaten their voting rights.


For those not in Michigan, please help shine a light on these dirty tricks by sharing information with your organizations and via social media.
Finally, sign and share this Common Cause petition to tell State lawmakers to stop their power-grab in Wisconsin!
Michigan Coverage

We've also compiled coverage of some of the other attacks on the will of American voters:




The Democracy Initiative has signed on the list of principles of a strong democracy of the coalition group, Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD). Those principles are that a strong democracy:
  • Is one where voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility;
  • Serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors;
  • Is one where our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets;
  • Is one where people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made; and
  • Works to respond to the needs of all people and their communities, building trust in governance and equity.

At the Annual Meeting, the DI coalition identified opportunities to move democracy reform at the state and national levels. Incoming House Democrats have announced that their first bill in the new year will address the issues outlined in DFAD’s principles of a strong democracy. We expect this bill to be called H.R. 1, and are looking forward to pushing bold democracy reform at the national level by urging Congress to pass legislation that establishes a strong democracy, so that we can win on the issues that matter most to us, such as accessible and affordable healthcare, environmental justice and protections, and workers’ and civil rights.

Tell your members to take action with Common Cause and email their representatives to encourage them to include public financing and independent redistricting commissions in H.R. 1!

DI partner People for the American Way has put together a full suite of materials for activists and members to set up and conducts visits with representatives across the country in support of comprehensive democracy reform.


At this year’s Annual Meeting, we brought together a diverse set of organizers, state, local, and national leaders, and partners to the table. We identified needs for sustainable field organizing infrastructure, discussed ways to strategically position the DI to influence and assist 2019-2020 democracy reform campaigns, and thought about ways to expand our work to engage a larger percentage of our 40 million plus members. We also celebrated ground-breaking campaigns in Michigan and Missouri, and the inspirational work of the Arab American Institute with Democracy Champion awards.
A warm thank you from all of us here at the DI, to participants in our 7th Annual Meeting:

We could not have had such a successful Annual Meeting without all of you!

We would additionally like to thank those who attended Monday’s Democracy Champions Train the Trainer session, and to Izzy Bronstein (Common Cause) and Debbie Szeredy (American Postal Workers Union), for helping to lead the training.

Our Annual Meeting attendees participated in one of three Breakout Sessions, based on their interest and specialty in the subject: Messaging, Legislative Strategy, and Corporate Campaigns.

Messaging Guidance, led by Beth Jacob, of Bluestocking Strategy; The group reviewed the most recent Democracy Initiative messaging guide, available here, practiced short “elevator” pitches about how our is/sues connect to the democracy movement, highlighted the importance of using stories in our messaging and discussed the gaps and barriers to having our messages received. See the notes from this session here.

Legislative Strategy, led by Peggy Shorey, of the AFL-CIO, and Tania Maduro of Democracy Spring; This session worked on identifying the most important states and democracy reform issues to focus on in 2019-2020, increasing the number of Democracy Champions trainings, and what we need to get ready for January, 2019. See the notes here.

Corporate Campaigns, led by Shayda Naficy of Corporate Accountability; This breakout identified areas of particular urgency and convergence, including campaigns in the finance, tech/social media, and fossil fuel industries, policy enforcement, narratives to build solidarity, research to support work on the ground, and public education around high-impact sectors like water and transportation. See the notes here.

Additionally, the leaders of several partner organizations and DI Board Members reviewed the Draft 2019 Campaign Plan.

2018 Democracy Champion Awardees Nancy Wang (Voters Not Politicians), Brandon Jessup (Promote the Vote MI), Sharon Delonte (ACLU of Michigan), and Maya Berry (Arab American Institute). DI Co-chair Tefere Gebre accepted the award on behalf of the Missouri Labor Movement. DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and Co-Chair Karen Hobert Flynn also pictured.


2018 Final Mobilizing Meeting

Wednesday, December 12 at 3PM EST / Noon PST

As the dust settles on the 2018 Midterm elections—and new lame-duck fights erupt—we look forward to reconnecting with folks for our last DI Mobilizing Meeting of the year next Wednesday, December 12 from 3-4PM EST.

Join us to celebrate our collective victories in 2018 and to help shape our coordinated work in 2019. The DI is in the process of making recommendations for priority campaigns for 2019; to that end, we’ve invited Common Cause and State Innovation Exchange to provide an overview of federal and state opportunities to move democracy reform in 2019.

Our hope is folks come to the meeting prepared to discuss their organizational priorities and targeted states in 2019. What big fights are you taking on and where we can collectively align to win?

For more information and to RSVP, contact Getachew Kassa at


Please assist us in circulating and identifying potential candidates for an upcoming job opportunity for Digital Campaigner. You can find the job description here.
Please direct any inquiries to Myke Bybee at