We are pleased to announce that today we are launching our new national organization, United Republic (UR) and its grantmaking arm, Fund For The Republic. Formerly known as Democracy Fund, UR is focused on a singular assertion: Democracy is not for sale.
This is the most important political fight of our time. Well-financed special interests so thoroughly dominate politics and policymaking that our government is incapable of rising to the daunting challenges that America faces.
To fix the problem, we must build a broader, louder and more powerful movement made of patriots of all stripes — from the left to the right — who don’t agree on everything, but are united against the everyday corruption that plagues our system.
We plan to help build that movement through both our own operation and by funding the best work of existing groups and the most promising and creative emerging ideas.
We are launching with two crucial strategic mergers — Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig’s Rootstrikers organization, as well as MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan’s Get Money Out campaign. Doing so enables us to launch with 300,000 initial members, and a large online social network.
With our expanding base of support plus the funds of many generous (current and future) supporters, we plan to:
- Build a war-room style communications operation that drives the issue into the center of the national debate, with a focus on mainstream audiences. A small team of investigative researchers working in collaboration with other watchdog groups will spark scandals rather than wait for them because we know that the real scandal in Washington is what’s routine and legal.
- Conduct political accountability campaigns to unseat politicians who put K Street before their constituents. We will begin a culture of consequences on this issue that gains national attention and demonstrates that the money-in-politics issue can affect elections.
- Build a bolder and broader left-right-center coalition. Americans are fired up, thinking and acting outside the box, and rapidly transforming the national debate in the process. Dozens of issue groups fighting the K Street juggernaut need to be more actively recruited and funded to join the fight. In addition, United Republic will host the first flagship, biennial conference of reformers in early 2013 to provide a rallying point for the growing movement.
- Increase resources and expand the pool of donors. It takes big money to fight Big Money. We plan to assemble a large group of donors to significantly invest in coordinated and complementary strategies. Fund For The Republic will direct grants that spark innovation, strengthen the good work of existing groups and expand the number of organizations committed to reform. We are carefully avoiding duplicative efforts and programs.
A core group of donors has already pledged more than $6 million in challenge grants, reflecting the scope and urgency of the issue. Our 2012 budget is $10 million. Some 50% of that will go directly into grantmaking. We’ve assembled an incredible core staff that knows these issues inside and out and will be bringing more staffers on board in the coming months.
Dismissing this problem as unsolvable or too expensive to fight are no longer options. It is this sense of urgency — this belief that the fate of our democracy hangs at a precipice — that is the catalyst for the creation of United Republic.
This is a genuinely formative moment. If we all redouble our commitment to this issue, we believe that real change is possible and that we will look back at this time as the beginning of a new, historic era of reform.