building the
new majority
the new world
foundation perspective
Fighting for the Future
                                in American Politics
                                L    ike many...
As a public charity, New World has focused on rebuilding the   “Philanthropy can and does promote civic renewal by paying
The Conservative Power Structure

                           Messaging: Coordinated, Disciplined, Scaled                  ...
Who Will Build the New Majority?                                                the first liberal majority on the city cou...
Lesson #3: Connect with New Constituencies. The path to a sustainable new
    There are other groups in the core as well: ...
The 2004 Youth Vote                                                            The potential of Latinos to emerge as a dec...
What do we mean by frontline? We mean the social justice                     for civic activism, clearly, they are not in ...
of 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) funding. The voter participation component                         neighborhood association and PTA...
Metro/State Areas
Coalition, to name only a few of the outstanding groups in Los Angeles
that are building grassroots orga...
knowledge base of kindred funders. Between all of us in the funding              educated activists who become new voters ...
organizing in largely disenfranchised African-American communities                In 1996, Working Partnerships had a budg...
This cross-fertilization is accelerating the development of new alliance       The right-hand third
The World as We Know It
infrastructure building and political participation, enabling staffing to
expand alongside the opp...
Building a New Majority (2005)
Building a New Majority (2005)
Building a New Majority (2005)
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Building a New Majority (2005)


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A New World Foundation report on the lessons of the US presidential election in 2004 in regards to building a democratic base for social justice.

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Building a New Majority (2005)

  1. 1. building the new majority the new world foundation perspective
  2. 2. Fighting for the Future in American Politics L ike many who identify with social justice traditions in American politics, the Board and staff of The New World Foundation have reflected on the 2004 elections and arrived at a new sense of commitment: we can do better. We can do better in building a citizenry that is motivated by values of democracy, decency and inclusion; that has higher expectations for economic security, healthy communities and good government; that is informed about the enormous choices facing us in the world, from superpower wars to global warming. We can also do more to activate the millions of young people coming of age, the millions disenfranchised by poverty and racism, and those who do not yet dare to hope for a more just society. Certainly, these are reactionary times. We are well aware of the destructive, and sometimes seductive, power that has been amassed by the Right at all levels of the federal government and in many states, even with the slimmest margins of support. We are also aware that many of the past gains achieved by social movements and progressive alliances have been deeply Copyright ©2005 compromised or swept away. So this is a sober moment, when The New World Foundation each of us must decide whether to concede or to rebuild. 666 West End Avenue, Suite 1b We choose to rebuild and so do many others. Some focus New York, NY 10025 212-249-1023 primarily on rebuilding vigorous party politics, some on countering the Right in statehouses and Congress, some on developing new issues and messages. 2 1
  3. 3. As a public charity, New World has focused on rebuilding the “Philanthropy can and does promote civic renewal by paying attention to the often overlooked smaller grassroots groups frontline ways in which people connect to civic participation that are the heart and soul of vigorous communities.” and political action in the broadest sense—what we call —William A. Schambra, Hudson Institute/Bradley Center the “social infrastructure” for creating an expanding base of for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, 2005 voters willing to both challenge and exercise power. And on the frontlines today, we see activity that is already producing The Right Has Learned What progressive new majorities in many places and showing us Some of Us Forgot… how a new political era can grow “from the ashes of the old.” We have established The New Majority Fund at The New So much of the post-’04 discussion has focused on messaging, money, World Foundation as a way to expand funding for this work mobilization, and candidate management that we have overlooked the very essence of the Right’s ascendancy in the past thirty years: they have and multiply the places where civic activism for social justice built a base. promotes voter awareness and participation. As William Schambra of the right-wing Bradley Center reminds us in the quote above, the Right has invested time and money in broadening In this booklet, we would like to share our view of the and politicizing their core constituencies. They have funded an organizing field with other foundations and donors. We want to expand program that focuses on Christian conservatives, anti-government libertarians, and “white flight” families in the far suburbs and ex-urbs. our collective “radar screen,” to add a frontline layer to our They have also made inroads into what was once solidly liberal terrain: understanding of what a new majority requires. We want to the working families of “middle America,” whose jobs and futures have been down-sized, but who are no longer attached to the culture of connect the immediate moment to a long-term perspective, so inclusion that prevailed when they were the new immigrants and when that we, who have resources to invest, will make a difference unions and civic associations were stronger. The Right’s attention to re-organizing these constituents into “smaller in the next generation, as well as in the next national debate. grassroots groups” on their side of the political spectrum has given them a populist veneer that belies their elite status and “command and control” leadership. This investment strategy is smart and long term: grassroots groups provide a sense of identity, moral purpose, and community support. They filter media messages, articulate values, and suggest the language of political appeal. They become the new vehicles for civic engagement, political action, and ultimately, electoral impact. Ironically, the Right learned about grassroots base-building—its power to shift political alignments and define political eras—from their own defeats at the hands of the New Deal and Great Society in the 1930s and 1960s. Those were moments, fueled by the upsurge of powerful social justice movements and the sweep of broad alliances, when the liberal- progressive spectrum set the political standard. In those days, the Right knew that ideas and messages were important, but they learned they were not enough. They learned well, as this chart of “The Conservative Power Structure” demonstrates. The Right has always built from the top down, using the leverage of class privilege and power—but this time they’ve also built 2 3
  4. 4. The Conservative Power Structure Messaging: Coordinated, Disciplined, Scaled GOP: Command & Control The Message Machine/Money Matrix The Party Infrastructure Major foundations and donors, Heritage, Cato, AEI, etc. 350,00 grassroots volunteers National Taxpayers US Catholic Union: Conference Christian Focus on 300k Pro-Life Committee Coalition NRA: the Family members FAIR: of America Home Intercollegiate 2.75 million Federation of School Studies Inst. members Nat’l Right to Life Americans for FreedomWorks: Center for College Pro-Life Legal Intercollegiate Committee American Southern Immigration 360k members Education Information Defense Network: Family Baptist Reform 600k database Reform Network Assn. 53k members Association Convention Gun Owners Priests of America For Life Campus Media Anti-Immigrant Local Vouchers Home City and regional Pastor networks Circulation: 2 million with FAIR supports Anti-Tax Local Schooling & State policy networks Club Connection volunteers at 1000 groups & Networks in all Groups: capacity Monthly magazine colleges, giving TA and local immigration All 50 via 37 50 states, e.g. Discounts and services funding for campus reform groups in: states in grassroots Christian Home Local Dioceses publications, training Suburban/ AZ,CA,CO,GA, NTU groups Educators of Rural Gun Clubs student editors, feeding Ex-urban KS,MI,MA,MN,MO, database across Ohio Knights of Evangelical e.g. Ohio stories and editorials, Megachurches NJ,NY,NC,RI, US Columbus Churches Rifle & Pistol developing internet groups SC,TN,TX,VA,WI Assn. Membership Dues, Activists, New Leaders, Candidate Pipelines, Accountability Evangelical Roman Pro-Gun Anti-Immigrant Anti-Tax School ‘Choice’ Colleges, Conservatives: Catholic Owners & Suburban/Ex-Urban Suburban/Ex-Urban Privatization Seminaries & 40 million Conservatives Libertarians Communities Conservatives Movement Universities Source: Lee Cokorinos, Capacity Development Group, 2004 PRIMARY BASE CONSTITUENCIES © The New World Foundation 2005 from the bottom up, and they’ve filled the distance in between with and are already re-organizing from the ground up. This is where New organizing groups and resource intermediaries. They have created an World provides support. We are convinced that renewed grassroots energy infrastructure for conservative politics that has density and connectivity. is what has kept the American public closely and sharply split. And so the Meanwhile, on the liberal-progressive side, organizing structures 2004 national election was not the liberal equivalent of “1964,” when Barry have gotten thinner as the distance between the standard bearers and Goldwater garnered only 25% of the vote and conservatives lost credibility the grassroots has grown. Too many national leaders and Beltway policy as national leaders. Those who care about social justice and democratic centers have forgotten that progressive politics have always been propelled values are not 30 years away from national influence. by organized constituencies and by organizing the unorganized, by But we must ask ourselves, honestly, is this enough? Are we moving messages and social values that come from base as well as to it. closer or further away from influence and power? How do we recognize The good news is that not everybody forgot. Many activists at the the promising opportunities in front of us and expand our strategic grassroots level have kept the lessons of past movements close to heart investments? 4 5
  5. 5. Who Will Build the New Majority? the first liberal majority on the city council in its history. Progressives like Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, and Antonio Villaraigosa have become As New World identifies frontline organizing that engages constituencies leading public officials. in the electoral arena, we have found that most effective groups are able Of course, there is a long way to go to secure these shifts at the to align multiple constituencies and issues, creating new terrain on which statewide level, and progress has been uneven (Arnold, for instance). But broad electoral alliances can ultimately form, and opening new pathways it’s easy to forget how much has been accomplished with new organizing, to political participation. new forms of civic participation, and a renewed focus on voter These groups operate on three levels. They focus on the core base, registration and turnout over the past decade. people who are socially concerned and often active voters, like union Lesson #1: Don’t ignore the core. We need to build on the strength of the members, civil rights activists, people of faith and service professionals. They work to maximize that core base with new organizing. Through very core constituencies that are the foundation for the new majority. Taking intentional outreach and activism, they also connect to new constituencies the national 2004 election profile as a loose indicator of progressive values: that are often unorganized or isolated, like immigrants and youth. The Top “Blue” Constituencies in ’04 From the volume and energy of the people they set in motion, by making community demands for government responsibility and corporate accountability, these groups begin to shift the overall political 25% Unions climate, influence the media and policy debates, and challenge uncertain 65% 17 million members, blue or “swing” voters with new and different viewpoints. all voters 25 million in union households Components of the New Majority 12% New Base 88% African Americans Constituencies blue all voters Swing Voters Expanded Core Core Base 11% Constituencies 56– Latinos 65% all voters blue We will examine diverse examples later on, but for now, let’s start with a leading case. Think about how much progressive grassroots organizing has reshaped politics in California from the so-called “Red” 18% state of Ronald Reagan and his cronies a decade ago. A lot has happened Young Voters 54% in that time: healthcare and service sector unions organized hundreds of blue the only blue age group all voters thousands of new members, recent immigrants and their children became active citizens and voters, liberal churches and temples got involved again, environmentalists were recruited to a broader agenda, new leaders and 22% candidates stepped forward. 62% Single Women This wave of organizing and civic engagement has fueled new levels of blue all voters voter participation, especially in low-income communities, which in turn is generating a more educated, experienced voting public. The electoral shifts are impressive. Right-wing ballot initiatives that were winning by 70–30% margins a decade ago are now losing by that margin. Strongholds 77% 93% Religious Minorities of reaction like the San Fernando Valley are not so conservative anymore; blue blue they even voted not to secede from the City of Los Angeles. San Jose overcame Prop. 13 to create a tax base for social services. San Diego elected Source: The New York Times; Jews Muslims 6 7
  6. 6. Lesson #3: Connect with New Constituencies. The path to a sustainable new There are other groups in the core as well: liberal people of faith, environmentalists, civil libertarians, the gay rights movement, the anti- majority runs through the new voters, and the future voters, who are just now war movement, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, consumer being organized at the grassroots—on both sides of the political divide. advocates, New Deal seniors. All together, the core groups consistently The New Constituencies represent 35–45% of the electorate in any given place or issue. As much as we rely on core constituencies in constructing majorities, their base organizations have been repeatedly ignored by national election strategists and funders. Under the surface run the intersecting fault lines Immigrants from Global South 30 million since 1990 of race, class, and gender. Our core base is predominantly people of color, the working class and poor, and women heads of household. Yet our national leaders remain predominantly white, male, and highly privileged. Their Children Whether in public office or other institutions, they appear unable to Coming-of-age children of immigrants articulate or implement a vision of racial equality and social justice, even in the face of rampant racism and tokenism from the Right. It is past time to reverse this pattern. It is especially imperative to recognize the central Youth 14-18 role that people of color are already playing at the core of progressive The next electorate, 21 million politics, to invest in the organizations they are leading at the state and local level, and to support these leaders in expanding the core and Low-Income Communities, reaching the new constituencies we need to organize. Working Poor 60 million, majority non-voters Lesson #2: Expand the Core. With new organizing and mobilizing, there is plenty of room for core groups to grow to their fullest potential and reach their broadest memberships. We can even move white men, if they Families without Health Care are organized around economic justice. Taking an example from the 47 million ’04 elections, the Garin exit polls showed that white men overall voted Source: US Census 2000 60% for Bush, but white men in unions voted 61% for Kerry. So union membership matters in broadening the core, which makes new union When social justice issues get to people first, when community organizing a crucial political battleground. alliances embrace new constituencies and open doors to their How the core constituencies interact to support each other is equally empowerment, when eligible voters see continuous neighborhood critical. One of the untold stories of California is the role of progressive activity led by people they know, when non-voters see spirited battles faith-based organizing in supporting union drives, countering the Right’s to break down barriers to voting, then the electorate generally expands appeal to evangelicals with appeals to justice, and building bridges and moves toward progressive candidates and causes. The regular new between low-income and middle class voters. voters created in this process are the folks who have swung the balance In addition, the greatest potential for progressive civic engagement in every metro region of California. Their constituencies are the heart lies in urban centers. Every city with a population over 500,000 voted of new organizing among unions, in public universities, in inter-faith Blue in ’04, as did half the cities with populations between 50,000 and networks—the places where the core constituencies connect with and 500,000, even in very Red states. The potential to challenge conservative lend strength to new civic activism. power is also expanding from urban cores outward, extending into So let’s imagine that the “youth vote” had decided the last election. If greater metro areas that include several suburban rings and often no one but 18 to 29 year-olds had voted in 2004, Kerry would have won multiple counties. the Electoral College by a 2:1 margin. These greater metro areas are, in fact, distinct regional economies Again, we are using the choices presented in 2004 as very loose that remain dynamic centers of population growth and will increasingly indicators of progressive viewpoints, and not suggesting that progressives dominate state politics. Organizing “to scale” means understanding how can only express themselves through the Democratic Party. Indeed the to build civic activism that is defined by regional economic realities and “age gap,” along with the fact that young voters still have low turnout not only by existing political boundaries. rates, begs some tough questions. Who is really talking politics to this 8 9
  7. 7. The 2004 Youth Vote The potential of Latinos to emerge as a decisively progressive voting bloc is already evidenced in California and Colorado, where they EV Totals: Kerry: 375 are represented by highly visible office holders and liberal standard- Bush: 163 bearers. In Florida, where conservative Cubans have claimed the mantle of representation, the Latino vote is split, but it is moving in more progressive directions—notwithstanding the fact that in 2004 not a single Democrat holding a statewide office spoke Spanish. At New World, we are investing in the civic engagement projects in South Florida, Orlando and among farm workers that are challenging those old dynamics. These groups are creating leadership streams that reflect the new and next base of activism, and reflect the real potential of a progressive majority forming in Florida. The Latino population map also tells us to take note of the Old South, Source: the states where new Latino immigration is explosive. We see enormous constituency of young people and speaking to them as young workers, potential for this influx to create multi-racial alliances that can contest as community college students, as tenants and consumers, or perhaps, the reactionary power structure in the region and its decisive grip on as new parents? And who is speaking to the cohort right behind them, national politics. Indeed, we cannot concede the South in the face of this the 14 to 18 year-olds—through family, through school, through culture, potential. But it will surely require long term investment in frontline community, and media? Where do they see living examples of courage organizing, strong anchor organizations, active bridge-building, and new in the face of injustice and action in place of indifference? Who inspires enfranchisement battles. them to become political leaders and activists in their own generation? Clearly, what New World sees and values in the field begins with strong Let’s also think a few steps ahead about the Latino vote and what it base-building organizations that have a long term strategy for creating a means to potential majorities and new political alignments: progressive majority, propelled by substantive policy victories along the way, especially for poor people. This is different from short-term election strategies Latinos as a Rising Electoral Force that focus on winning office and on a few swing states and swing voters, as we saw from both parties in 2004. That is not a route to a lasting progressive States Where Latino Populations Exceed 12% majority on the ground. Building the new majority for a social justice agenda States With Fastest Growing Latino Populations requires us to speak to and from our core constituencies, to help them grow, to connect and organize with the new constituencies, and to move the wider MN NY public by exercising political clout and re-taking the policy initiative. 15% So we not only need to understand who will build the new majority, NJ NV NE 13% 32.5% IL but also how to do it well. CO 12.5% CA 17% 32.5% KY NC TN AZ NM 25% What’s already working: AR SC 42% GA AL TX 32% FL ✽ Continuous Organizing 17% Source: US Census 2000 ✽ Frontline Resources The map tells us where both present and future battlegrounds lie. ✽ Building Alliances Latinos are not the only significant new immigrants, but they are the most rapidly expanding group in the new electorate. While they are highly concentrated in urban centers, over half live in metro area suburbs. Today, we see the most effective voter participation work being built by Though far from homogeneous, they are forging a new political identity frontline organizations that can sustain organizing activity beyond and in the crucible of American racial and ethnic politics. between election cycles. 10 11
  8. 8. What do we mean by frontline? We mean the social justice for civic activism, clearly, they are not in themselves sufficient to generate organizations—as well as civic associations, labor, religious and a new majority. That requires a third step, the conscious forging of educational institutions—that grow on the ground, inside a community, alliances across constituencies and issues, connecting communities to that represent webs of relationships and values, where you have to live each other and to all parts of the political process. with what you do and how you do it. We mean organizations that are At New World, we are seeing a new generation of alliance building led by people who reflect their communities and are in it for the long efforts emerge across the country with exactly this mission. They are haul—not coincidentally, these organizations are led by a much higher different than the protest politics of 20 or 30 years ago that relied on percentage of people of color, women, union leaders, and 25 to 50 year- mass mobilization without creating ongoing organization. They are also olds than we find inside the Beltway. different from the organizing tradition of banging on doors to get a seat at While the last round of national elections saw real progress in the table and different from the legislative advocacy coalitions where “you educational outreach to new and occasional voters, many of the best scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” They are not electoral vehicles per se, funded national efforts were still “parachute” operations of outside but create the infrastructures that make participation possible, supplying canvassers who didn’t always land smoothly on the ground and who didn’t the motivation to get involved and the means to make a difference. leave enough behind when they went home. In contrast, the strongest We call them new majority structures. From our own program alone, progressive results in both registration and turnout were achieved by we have found 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) efforts in 22 greater metro areas and frontline organizations, as in South Florida, where they told national voter seven rural states that meet a basic definition: mobilization groups to send the money, but not parachute organizers. New majority structures are civic alliances; they may emerge within Instead, these groups placed over 200 local activists and emerging leaders one umbrella organization or in a looser consortium of complementary in nationally funded slots—leaders who are still there, spearheading union organizations. They are alliances with organizing capacities that drives, Hispanic and Caribbean community organizations, statewide issue connect and integrate multiple constituencies, expanding the core and campaigns, and ongoing voter education work. reaching the new. The most common structures are labor-community- This raises the question of frontline resources. South Florida’s GOTV interfaith collaborations, though several have been initiated by social work was exceptional, that is, both excellent and unusual, because local service providers and advocates. They are also multi-issue alliances organizations used their clout with national unions and advocacy groups with applied research and policy capacities, and they create common to claim and deploy national money. In general, however, the sector we are agendas that are pro-active and escalating. They coordinate their activities discussing has been chronically under-funded. One reason is that most through strategic planning, and also through intensive civic leadership frontline organizations are not part of national networks, or are effective development across their constituencies. primarily as local chapters of national networks, such as Jobs with Justice, In the graphic below, we have indicated the main activities of new ACORN or PICO. Foundation grants and donor contributions tend to majority structures, which stress civic engagement and connect to flow more readily to the national level and to professional advocacy and political participation from multiple directions, all within the parameters policy centers, which funders find easier to identify and identify with, than New Majority Structures: Key Ingredients most community-based groups. We absolutely need more funding across the political apparatus, New Electoral from top to bottom and sideways; this is not a Beltway vs. grassroots Coalitions/ argument. This is an argument about striking strategic balances, and Candidates about the fact that the current distribution of progressive political participation funding is seriously out of balance. Far more is spent on the Cross- Civic Constituency Leadership national superstructure than the frontline infrastructure. As a result, base Organizing Networks building activity has been egregiously under-funded. This disparity not Political only reveals the race, class and gender inequities within progressive and Participation liberal politics, it deepens them. Among the many challenges ahead, the Strategic Pro-Active most profound is how to effectively channel funding, as well as technical Alliances Platforms assistance and networking resources, to the frontlines in a sustained way. Multi-Issue And while continuous organizing at the community level and an Agendas adequate stream of frontline funding are necessary to build constituencies 12 13
  9. 9. of 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) funding. The voter participation component neighborhood association and PTA presidents, social service managers, includes public information, voter education and registration, and immigrant rights advocates, and small business owners. Together, they citizenship education. We have also shown that the arena of electoral study their regional economy, understand the policy process, multiply candidacies and partisan coalitions is distinct. The new majority relationships, build a common agenda, and craft a shared vision. More structures we fund don’t cross that space. Rather, new majority structures than 400 people have been trained in the last six years, creating a new build the foundation for those participants who can and do enter nexus of civic leadership. the electoral arena. They build the groundwork for ongoing political New majority structures are also re-inventing ways to connect this participation through frontline issue campaigns, direct action, voter holistic approach to the electoral arena. In an example that may well be outreach, media messaging, and leadership networking. They construct cited for years to come, we can see how the (c)(4) organization ALLERT the springboard from which people flow into the electoral arena, the place emerged as a Black-Latino electoral force in South Los Angeles working where new electoral alliances can be formed, new candidates can emerge, with the (c)(3) organization SCOPE, a strong set of local community and new majorities can both win and govern. organizations, an array of service and public sector unions, and neighborhood congregations large and small. Lesson #4: Integrate the Infrastructure. Integration is one of the primary features that distinguishes these structures from older organizing and Pathways to Voter Participation advocacy traditions. New majority structures fuse issue and identity ALLERT in South Los Angeles politics, overcoming competition between single constituencies and single issues, while bridging the usual distance between foot soldiers and policy Issue Advocacy & Organizing Combine Expand the Electorate: centers. While there is no one-size-fits-all model, we have seen some very with Multi-Racial Voter Outreach 238,000 voter database effective examples of how this works. in Every Election Cycle 150,000 supportive voters Metro Alliances are Working Working Partnerships in San Jose, CA Organize Over Multiple Election Cycles A Pro-active Agenda Links Tax Initiative for Multiple Constituencies Create Hi-tech Database and Leadership Networks Social Programs Target and Build Key Community Neighborhood Precincts Benefits Policy (c)(4) Children’s Health Union-CBO-Church Initiative Partnership Living Wage WPUSA forms Nov ’02 Mar ’03 May ’03 Oct ’03 Mar ’04 May ’04 Nov ’04 Mar ’05 May ’05 Nov ’05 ALLERT’s organizing of new voter participation across old racial divides 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 is impressive, as is the multi-racial civic coalition that expressed itself at the This example is taken from Working Partnerships, a labor-community- polls in May 2005, electing progressive Antonio Villaraigosa mayor of LA by interfaith collaboration in San Jose and Santa Clara County, California. an overwhelming margin. But the deeper story is that electoral engagement We see that over the past decade, they have created a multi-issue agenda was accomplished through a deep infrastructure that includes the ongoing that escalates in scale and in the constituencies impacted. The agenda does work of many other exemplary frontline organizations with new majority not stand alone. It is also linked to Leadership Institutes that have brought approaches: SCOPE/AGENDA, LAANE, Clergy & Laity United (CLUE), together union presidents and shop stewards, pastors and deacons, Justice for Janitors and Hotel Workers Local 11, and the Community 14 15
  10. 10. Metro/State Areas Coalition, to name only a few of the outstanding groups in Los Angeles that are building grassroots organizations, permanent alliances, policy with New Majority Structures campaigns, a broader platform of issues, and new civic leadership. Battleground states in 2004 Seattle Lesson #5: All Elections, All the Time. At the bottom of the ALLERT graphic is the timeline of LA elections the organization has engaged since its formation: virtually every election held in LA City and County, Burlington Minneapolis primary, general, or special. They vote a lot in LA. But the lesson here for Boston New Haven Milwaukee everyone is: building civic engagement and a culture of participation that New York includes the electoral arena cannot be a sometime thing—or a somewhere Chicago Cleveland Oakland Washington DC Denver else thing. It cannot be achieved with last minute mobilizations geared San Jose Fairfax County Saint Louis Las Vegas to national election cycles and confined to swing districts and states. Building a progressive and energetic new majority requires ongoing Los Angeles Albuquerque San Diego organizing, continuous civic engagement, the capacity to create new Atlanta policy directions, and the capacity to inspire new leaders and volunteers. This activity needs to be local, ubiquitous and sustained, so people can Orlando see they make a difference. The Right moved from base organizing to the electoral rebuilding process by getting leaders from its core constituencies Miami to run for school boards, city councils, and county commissions. That trajectory works for progressives too, but we have to invest in the base to begin with. Smaller Rural States Where are New Majority with New Majority Structures Structures Emerging? Battleground states in 2004 The electoral and legislative shifts that follow from new waves of Maine organizing for social change are not unique to Los Angeles. San Jose, a city Montana of 1 million, has seen the number of progressives on the city council rise from three to a majority of eight out of ten, and the GOP lost its Silicon Valley congressional seat. San Diego, a city of 1.3 million that has been a Iowa conservative stronghold and Navy town for generations, recently elected its first liberal majority to the city council, and in 2005, they passed a Kentucky sweeping living wage ordinance. Moreover, the last mayoral election North Tennessee Carolina featured a progressive write-in candidate, who would have unseated the Arkansas incumbent if all the ballots had been counted. Political battles remain Alabama Mississippi intense, but power is shifting. These results are also not unique to California. Similar structures and shifts are emerging in metro areas across the country, as well as in a number of smaller rural states where organizing and alliance building has a cross-county character. Here we offer two maps highlighting where we know that new majority structures are being built and expanded, with the caveat that this represents only our own field work at New World and not the full 16 17
  11. 11. knowledge base of kindred funders. Between all of us in the funding educated activists who become new voters have an impact: progressives world, there is much more to be shared, discovered, nurtured, seeded, have won 31 of those 47 seats over the last six years, in turn securing the evaluated, and even disputed in terms of potential. state tax base for social programs and a minimum wage increase. Why do we see this parallel development in so many different places? Colorado, a classic swing state, went for Bush in the 2004 presidential Several contextual reasons come to mind. In most places, there is little contest. Yet old and new forces, including frontline donors, combined to protective buffer left from the New Deal or Great Society and rarely a reverse that trend at the state level, swinging both state legislative houses liberal establishment to negotiate with, at least that has any negotiable back to liberal majorities, while electing Latinos to the U.S. Senate and the resources. So this generation of activists recognizes that they have little to House. One margin of difference was the increased turnout from working gain from either concessionary insider politics or largely symbolic outsider class suburbs and Latino communities surrounding Denver, where the politics. What matters is a substantial and energized popular base and Front Range Economic Strategy Center (FRESC) has been working over elected officials at the local and state level who owe them accountability. the past three years. Progressives haven’t seen this hybrid approach to political action FRESC is a progressive labor/community alliance of over 40 groups deployed on a wide scale for quite some time. Yet the concept has deep in the greater Denver area. Its policy work focuses on community roots in American political culture, from the Progressive Era, to the benefits agreements with government and the private sector to ensure New Deal, to the Civil Rights Era: powerful electoral alliances require that economic development investments create positive impacts on job independent social activism as well as leverage points in elected office. quality, housing, the environment, and more. FRESC is currently taking The goal is both power and empowerment, expanding where and how we on a multi-county transportation justice campaign as metro Denver apply democratic standards in our society. creates a vast new transit system. In 2004, FRESC activists worked with It isn’t clear whether this new pattern or paradigm shift has been allies to add voter education to their issue campaigns, especially among understood by national political leaders, but it is clear that groups on the low-income workers in adjoining suburban counties that had been ground intend to go forward with or without them. ignored in the past. FRESC has not only helped to awaken this voter To cite some further examples: potential but is also building a common agenda through its regional The dynamic voter education work underway in South Florida is economic perspective. being driven by new immigrant groups fighting for inclusion like Unite Even down in Mississippi, which ranks among the most reactionary for Dignity and Mi Familia Vota, which registered 72,000 new voters in states, shifts are underway. It started 13 years ago, when Southern Echo ’04. They have developed intensive leadership trainings, weekly radio won a campaign for redistricting reform, successfully propelled by programs, community outreach networks, policy education seminars, and direct action campaigns around labor and immigrant rights, the Cross-County Alliances are Working environment, redistricting, social services, and more. By their side is a Southern Echo in Mississippi constellation of community organizing centers, farm worker associations and unions, service centers and advocacy groups that are weaving a strong Voting Rights Agenda infrastructure for new voting patterns—not only in Miami/Dade but State Education Expands Core Constituencies, also in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Latino electorate of South Potentials for State Alliances Budget Salvaged Florida shifted 10% in a progressive direction last year, including the Cuban vote. Multi-Level Up in Massachusetts, a (c)(4) group organizing in the smaller cities, Voter Participation Mass Neighbor to Neighbor, works with a core base of public housing tenants, many immigrant women, in low-income neighborhoods where Cross-County Alliances job loss, housing displacement, health care access and declining schools Local Organizations are major issues. This base has become an energetic force behind a In Key Delta Counties statewide policy platform, the Working Families Agenda, a coalition of Redistricting labor, community groups, and voter mobilization efforts. As part of its Battle Won policy analysis, Mass N2N also developed a methodology that identified 47 state legislators in both parties who mis-represent the potential 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 electorate of their districts on social justice issues. It turns out that 18 19
  12. 12. organizing in largely disenfranchised African-American communities In 1996, Working Partnerships had a budget of $83,000 and grants in the rural Delta counties. That organizing has continued ever since, from the McKay Foundation, the UU Veatch Program, the French- through county organizations working on education and criminal justice American Charitable Trust and New World. Today, its annual budget is reform at the local and state level and a continuing focus on voting rights $1.7 million. In 1992, AGENDA was formed in LA with a $143,000 budget, and the accountability of local elected officials. Echo’s inter-generational kicked off by New World and Liberty Hill. It then spawned a host of leadership development work has helped sustain these efforts and brought work under the umbrella of SCOPE and, in 2002, became a springboard a new generation into this very old fight against racism and reaction. for ALLERT with a startup budget of $150,000. By 2004, that total was Over this same period, more than 20 Echo leaders have been elected as $800,000 and is still climbing. Southern Echo had a budget of $80,000 in school board members, county supervisors, and mayors. The state’s Black 1992, when it won redistricting reform, with early funders that included Legislative Caucus has also grown from 22 to 47 representatives. The the Norman Foundation and the Bert & Mary Meyer Fund, along with Caucus has made a critical difference in major legislative battles, most New World. Today, Southern Echo has a budget of $1.48 million for work recently anchoring a bi-racial alliance that salvaged the education budget across the region. from the hands of a rabidly right-wing governor. We cannot possibly recount here all the examples and prospects that are bubbling up across the country through new majority structures and The Sum of the Parts approaches. We do welcome inquiries and discussions among funders about the specific sites we highlight on New World’s maps and look forward to synthesizing the multiple mapping efforts that are underway. We have focused so intently on this one layer of work not because we In the meantime, we can draw another lesson: think it’s the only layer that needs investment, but because we think it has been perilously under-valued and under-funded relative to Lesson #6: All States, All Elections, All the Time. States where new its impact. To put it another way, we believe that without this layer majority potentials are most advanced, like California or Massachusetts, of frontline alliance building, we will not have the bone marrow to cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, they should garner national regenerate a healthy body politic. resources precisely because they are pioneers, moving progressive It’s hard to represent this world on paper—it is so invisible from participation forward, creating policy initiatives that set a national inside the Beltway, or from the vantage point of most past and present standard, and providing models and methods for others to draw on. Of power models. The examples we cite may seem small and scattered to course, we should pay attention to battleground states like Florida or some, though not to those who are moving large cities and whole Colorado, Ohio or Pennsylvania—national resources should flow to the states; not to those who are watching women, workers, and people of new majority structures that can tip the balances there, but not just for color rise to leadership roles; and not to those who are putting their the next national election, for the long term. Nor can we afford to neglect own right to health care or housing or retirement on the line when they the states where we seem far from power, the places like Mississippi, where organize for justice. we can learn to challenge the Right on their own terrain and begin to tie It is nonetheless a fair and necessary question to ask: can this kind of up their resources. work really grow to scale? Having a national lens doesn’t mean setting one’s sights only on the We argue that it can and is growing to scale, toward both statewide White House or Congress. It means looking at the whole picture and all majorities and national impact, with two kinds of synergy occuring. For its parts. Clearly, it also means significantly multiplying the funding and one, the new majority structures (and embryos) we have identified with resources available to this work, across the board. stars are increasingly talking to one another. With several groups playing anchor roles, particularly those in California, there are multiplying Lesson #7: Fund early and often. These examples contain another opportunities for these structures to exchange, share, network, cross- funding lesson that applies to national, regional and local foundations train, and evaluate among themselves. Formal and informal learning and donors. Every one of the groups we have cited began their work with tours, surveys, and consultations are taking place. New collaborations very modest investments from foundations such as New World, who have been formed around how to build community benefits campaigns; have relatively small endowments but long-standing field presence and a how to build deep civic leadership circles; how to challenge corporate strategy of focused grantmaking. Those small investments have proven power, from health care chains to Wal-Mart; and how to build the highly cost-effective and are reaping large returns. regulatory power of local government. 20 21
  13. 13. This cross-fertilization is accelerating the development of new alliance The right-hand third New Platform & structures in more metro centers and rural states—and spreading of the chart represents Credible Messages Expan d Enga ing V the concept to national organizing networks that are updating their where most new gem models, and to local activists who are seriously looking for how to build majority efforts stand ot t er en something more enduring than last November’s mobilization. today: rebuilding the The second kind of synergy we have seen is internal, inside metro civic infrastructure of New Leaders/ and cross-county politics. To us, it looks something like a spiraling Venn participation, engaging Candidates diagram in three stages and describes the new majority approach in its and linking core bases, fullest potential: reaching out to new ng ety bases, generating new ivi a n i z i o ci voices, training r lS g O civic leaders from C the community, Synergy: Building the New Majority developing prospective New Base candidates, and Core Base beginning to frame the policy debate with New Platform & ilding er bu pro-active agendas and Credible Messages Expan ow s d messages. l p EO Enga ing V The left-hand third of the chart L gem a itic represents what can be done with a strong ot t building wer Pol Message Machine er en po Os infrastructure in place, including a growing lE L a body of local elected officials (LEOs) itic Pol accountable to the alliance. Those officials Amplifying Progressive New Leaders/ and their civic pulpits then multiply impacts Money Matrix Amplifying Progressive Social Values Candidates on local media and other office seekers, Social Values so that social issues and values become amplified in regular public discourse, so that G ROU N DE D change in a progressive direction becomes C re nda aM ng C re nda ety a ti a compelling alternative to swing voters as aM g a ivi a n i z i S US TA I N E D n te o ci a ti well, and a new electoral majority begins g a n r lS to gel. Probably Los Angeles, San Jose and g CO N N E CT E D te O Massachusetts are the places where this C Swing Base SCA L E D second stage of the work has advanced furthest. With added resources, we think that many more new majority Swing Base New Base structures will advance, and at an accelerated pace. Two areas particularly require new investment, as much on the local level as the national. First is Core Base messaging, where frontline groups need the staffing to shape mainstream media and produce independent media, where they need better internal communications systems to craft and coordinate common messages, and where they need more sophisticated information technology for databases and strategic planning. Second, we need deeper organizational funding over the long term, general operating support that can meet multiple demands: underwriting 22 23
  14. 14. The World as We Know It infrastructure building and political participation, enabling staffing to expand alongside the opportunities for action, training and retaining a new generation of staff and leaders, securing technical assistance when Our argument has been premised on the political world we live in today, needed, and incorporating it into organizational practice. This is a and on the opportunities in front of us that we have means to address. lesson to be re-learned from the Right and its use of national and local We think that despite the sway of reactionary forces in America, valuable philanthropy over the past 30 years. space for democratic action remains; there is still contested terrain to be fought for and unclaimed terrain that we can build upon. This is a young nation, historically and demographically. It is an endowed nation, in its New Platform & resources, its diversity, and the energy of its people. Credible Messages Yet we are also mindful that the world as we know it may change precipitously and irrevocably within a generation. Most Americans are Message Machine not attending to the environment, but global climate change is well underway. Most Americans pay little mind to developing nations, but Money Matrix they are reshaping the global economy and challenging its enormous imbalance of wealth and power. Most Americans assume that affluence GROUNDED and opportunity are boundless, without reckoning on personal and national debts coming due. Most Americans are uneasy about foreign SUSTAINED interventions, but resist confronting the role the U.S. government plays CONNECTED in fueling global insecurity through militarism, resource wars, and the SCALED support of repressive regimes around the world. Swing Base New Base Things can shift dramatically in a lifetime: rivers die, levees fail, markets collapse, wars consume, empires fall. Recognizing that so much Core Base about the future lies beyond our immediate anticipation and action does not, however, negate the work we have to do right now. If anything, the The dividends from adding this third layer of resources to the uncertainty ahead should accelerate our actions. frontline organizations actually yield a double pay-off. We create the Whether we face a period of crisis or more gradual change, we infrastructure we must have for prolonged battles with the Right and for need to construct a new vision of America, a vision that measures our fundamentally shifting the electorate. We also give depth and resonance well-being by the health of our communities instead of the wealth we to the superstructure, to the national message machines, funding streams, each consume, a vision that honors our democratic dreams and not a and policy centers that are now being expanded and must continue to superpower fantasy. grow. This synergy can produce new political dynamics, perhaps even Whatever the pace of change, our greatest strength in setting a movements, where: democratic course will be the depth of our civic culture and its capacity to engage these issues on the frontlines. messages are grounded in the language of communities, • The ways we are organized in every day life to tackle our collective political engagement is sustained not episodic, • problems, the ways we are empowered to make a difference when it core, new and swing voters become aligned and connected, • counts, the ways we exercise our rights as equal citizens and human new majorities and real victories are scaled, reaching the next levels of • beings, the ways we resist injustice and manipulation, the ways we power with political leaders who reflect their constituencies. protect the next generations—these will be the test of any time to come. 24 25