Friday, April 04, 2014

A Time For New Beginnings

While I believe is time both for me personally and for the organization to transition to new leadership at the Democracy Campaign, I want no one to mistakenly conclude that I am retiring or stepping away from civic life and the fight for democracy. My movement building is going to take a new form after the end of this year, but I will most definitely be in the construction business.

The Democracy Campaign is an absolutely invaluable group that I love dearly. It is my fervent hope that you will continue to care about and support the incredibly important work of following the money in politics, speaking truth to power and working for reforms aimed at making people matter more than all that money.

After 15 years of doing this work as WDC's director, I have reached the conclusion that there is a threat to democracy even greater than scandalous campaign financing, voter suppression, voter apathy, consolidation of media ownership, partisan gerrymandering or any of the other cancers that are growing in the body of American democracy. The greatest threat of all is the sense of powerlessness and the feelings of resignation that afflict so many of us.

I am still sorting through how best to apply my experiences and my energies to promote citizen empowerment. But what I do know is that there is a void that needs filling. We need to somehow find a way to house the politically homeless, reform political parties that are failing us, and get common citizens back into the driver's seat of an actual democracy.

Twenty years ago, there was a void that needed filling. Money was starting to play a greater and greater role in Wisconsin's elections, but there was no practical way of tracking that money. To see who was giving to whom, you literally had to visit the old state Elections Board office and paw through thousands of pages of paper reports, looking for the proverbial needles in haystacks. A few of us wondered if we could put the power of this new thing called the Internet to use and build a database of political donations that anyone could see online free of charge. We started the Democracy Campaign from scratch to fill that void. We asked people to support and invest in this entrepreneurial enterprise. Today the Democracy Campaign is a fixture on the political scene in Wisconsin and an indispensable institution. I am certain someone more able than me can be found to lead WDC to even greater heights.

As for me, I am feeling that entrepreneurial itch again. There is a void that needs filling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right that we have lost a sense of empowerment especially with SCOTUS giving the Koch's the opportunity to buy any government of its choosing. There are still 99% of us without money but not without collective voices. Some how we need to find a way to have those voices drown out the lies that the Koch's money will sell to the unsuspecting voter. The media will accept the Koch's ad money and give voice to the lies but I'm at a loss as to how we can get the truth to the masses that need government to work for them not the 1%.