How You Can Get Involved In Transforming U.S. Politics
Research the Issues
Public Agenda, founded by social scientist Daniel Yankelovich and former secretary of state Cyrus Vance, provides non-partisan information on policy issues, including crime, gay rights, immigration, and others, and public opinion research. www.publicagenda.org
Urban Think Tank, a source of non-partisan analysis of political, economic, and cultural issues of concern to people of color, with the perspective of the hip hop generation. http://urbanthinktank.org, 718/670-3739
Truthout, CommonDreams, and the Progressive Review, are progressive newswires with critical news and political commentary you might not find in the mainstream media. Find them at: www.truthout.org, www.commondreams.org, www.prorev.com
Progressive Portalallows for “easy online activism” by providing form letters about issues such as the environment and the media to send to elected officials.www.progressiveportal.org
MoveOn.org (see article ), with an international network of more than two million online activists, has raised millions of dollars for political campaigns and ad campaigns, and helped organize peace vigils and meetings with political leaders. www.moveon.org
TrueMajority, a non-profit founded by Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry's, makes working for social justice fast and free. Registered users of the web site can take action by sending faxes to Congress and other national leaders and receive monthly issue alerts.www.truemajorityaction.org, 212/243-3416
Congress.org, a “one-stop-shop,” allows users to
identify and contact elected leaders, research congressional voting
records, post letters to leaders online, and create and post “Soapbox”
action alerts to enlist others on your issues.
Working for Change, a website provided by Working Assets, offers opinion, news, and action opportunities by allowing people to speak out on urgent issues, read informative columns, and e-mail comics to friends. www.workingforchange.com
Common Cause, a grass-roots lobbying organization, promotes accountable and effective government. Its on-line CauseNet Action Center allows users to identify and contact elected officials, receive action alerts about recent legislation, and get contact information for local media. www.commoncause.org, 202/833-1200
Institute for America's Future, organized by citizen activists, works to strengthen a progressive agenda and create a fair economy for all by organizing campaigns centered on issues such as budget cuts and Social Security. The Action Center on the website links users to actions they can take, as well as past action results. www.ourfuture.org, 202/955-5665
The Commission on Presidential Debates offers a compilation of guidelines for sponsoring debates of any kind, including those in political issue forums, races, and student debates. www.debates.org202/872-1020
DemocracyGroups.orgis an online directory designed to connect users to U.S.-based e-mail discussions and e-newsletters related to social change and democratic participation. DemocracyGroups.org is sponsored by the Organizers' Collaborative (OC), a group formed in 1999 to use technology to enhance grassroots organizing. www.democracygroups.org
Project Vote Smartprovides a comprehensive database about thousands of candidates and elected officials and lists information in five categories: backgrounds, campaign finance, issue positions, performance evaluations, and voting records. www.vote-smart.org, 800/868-3762
The League of Women Voters offers voters a guide to choosing a candidate and gives tips on how to analyze campaign information, how to read polls, and how to recognize distortion tactics. www.lwv.org, 202/429-1965
The Center for Responsive Politicsoffers a guide to who is making what size campaign contributions and to whom. You can find out all the nitty-gritty details here.www.opensecrets.org
League of Conservation Voters works to get pro-environment candidates elected. The website includes a national environmental scorecard that exposes the environmental voting records of elected officials and an action center where users can write letters to Congress and receive weekly e-newsletters.www.lcv.org, 202/785-8683
Global Stewards' webpage provides a guide to the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates, as well as a Congressional voting record scorecard for environmental, civil rights, labor rights, animal rights, and war-related issues.www.globalstewards.org/democrats.htm
Create Fair Elections
The Center for Voting and Democracy (see article ) advocates voter reform through instant run-off voting (IRV) and proportional representation. The website offers an IRV activist kit, which includes tips on how to join a voting reform group, how to speak at a city council meeting, and how to share voter reform literature with others. www.fairvote.org, 301/270-4616
The Project on Campaign Conductasks candidates to voluntarily adopt a code of campaign conduct and to run campaigns free of attacks and truth-twisting assertions. 207/236-6658
Wellstone Action, a nonprofit inspired by the late Senator Paul Wellstone and run by his sons, trains people to get involved in politics and organizing through Camp Wellstone, a weekend-long training program that teaches Wellstone's progressive approach to effective political engagement. Participants learn about issue advocacy, community organizing, and electoral politics through lectures, videos, guest speakers, role playing, and Q & A sessions. www.wellstone.org,
RESULTS,a grassroots citizens' lobbying organization, presents effective methods for working with Congress, dealing with the media, and fundraising. www.results.org, 202/783-7100
Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest(CLPI) helps organizations and individuals be effective public interest lobbyists. www.clpi.org, 202/387-5048
Global Exchangeprovides a how-to guide for communicating with legislators, organizing a demonstration, passing a local resolution, and conducting a teach-in. www.globalexchange.org/countries/iraq/toolkit.pdf
The Progressive Government Projectworks to promote progressive values in government and teaches users to understand the executive branch. The website provides a database of 600 appointed officials and their backgrounds, and an Executive Order Watch monitors decisions being made in the White House. The Shadow Government asks activists to role-play as high-ranking officials to show what a progressive government would look like.
Become an Activist
Voice4Changeoffers a “Rolling Regime Change Action Kit,” designed to help you reach out to your neighbors about the need for leadership change. The kit includes literature about Bush's priorities on economy, education, and healthcare, as well as a sign-up sheet to create a mailing list in your community.
AFL-CIO, the federation of America's labor unions, has a political webpage that contains congressional voting records, a Bush Watch link, and an opportunity to learn about candidates. A Working Families Activist Toolkit can be downloaded from the site and offers fliers and campaign material, e-mail actions, and legislative updates. www.afl-cio.org, 202/637-5000
Progressive Majority (see article)
works to get progressive candidates elected by providing early support
to campaigns and conducts outreach and recruitment to cultivate future
generations of candidates. The website offers tips on how to create a
progressive network by hosting house parties and signing up to receive
action alerts through ProgressiveNet.
EMILY'S List, the nation's largest grassroots
political network, raises campaign contributions for pro-choice
Democratic women candidates. The organization provides campaign
training and job placement for activists, as well as a state
legislative training program for female candidates. Campaign Corps, a
project of EMILY'S List, trains recent college graduates at a week-long
Campaign School and places them on progressive Democratic campaigns.
Millennialpolitics.comencourages young people to get involved in politics by hosting discussion boards about political issues, organizing “Coffee and Politics” group meetings, and promoting books about politics and youth activism through national book clubs. www.millennialpolitics.com
The Freechild Projectsupports young people in their work for social change, particularly among groups that historically have been denied political participation. The website acts as a directory for social change organizations, provides free literature through the Freechild Library, organizes letter campaigns, and provides a database on youth rights. www.freechild.org, 360/ 753-2686
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