The Democracy Initiative

A month after President Barack Obama won reelection, top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA), a few blocks north of the White House. Brought together by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the NAACP, the meeting was invite-only and off-the-record.

At the end of the day, many of the attendees closed with a pledge of money and staff resources to build a national, coordinated campaign around three goals: getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation.

The liberal activists have dubbed this effort the Democracy Initiative.

Radford, Brune, Cohen, and others say the Democracy Initiative is no flash in the pan; they’re in it for the long haul, for more than just this election cycle and the one after it. It took four decades, these leaders say, for conservatives to shape state and federal legislatures to the degree that they have, and it will take a long stretch to roll back those changes. “The game is rigged against us; the corporate right has done such a good job taking over the Congress and the courts,” Radford says. “We’re saying we need to step back and change the whole game.”

That’s from Mother Jones, and it’s been followed up by and the Daily Beast. Less confrontational comments from the Washington Monthly.

Personally, I agree with much of what the Democracy Initiative professes to want to do. I hope they succeed. But it is a bit interesting that it’s being publicized by conservatives as a “left-wing conspiracy” rather than the Democracy Initiative itself controlling the conversation. They can’t have seriously thought no one would notice them…could they? Or maybe they just don’t care how the right wing portrays them.

If they can make it through an election cycle unscathed, then they’re onto something. The problem is that once the machines spin up they’ll find themselves being ostracized by both parties which will marginalize them after the election machine spins back down for, what is it these days, a year?