Partially inspired by the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ business model, our organizational model differs from traditional political organizational models in several ways, but most importantly in the role we see ourselves taking in the movement we hope to do our part to help spark, grow and succeed, along with other centrist, moderate and transpartisan organizations, volunteers, donors and activists across the country.
There is nothing wrong with top-down organizational models, and if I were designing a think tank (like the Bipartisan Policy Center or Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget), organization focused on raising money to help candidates get campaigns started (like the moderate dark money group Unite America), we’d go that way.
Our primary goal, though, is to spur faster growth in centrist grassroots organizing – online and offline, among centrists and moderates, and top-down models have an awful track record in this arena.
What’s the Alternative to Build an Effective Centrist Grassroots Organization?
Above all else, we’ll pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, what our volunteers want and adapt.
Too many supposedly centrist grassroots organizations in the past, that aimed at representing centrists and/or moderates, not only used top-down organizational models, but made mistakes like choosing to file as forms of political organizations that could hide their donors or tried to twist the definition of ‘centrist’ to fit their personal agendas (The Centrist Project made both of those mistakes, and still on the former since changing their name to Unite America), or were inflexible and ignored reasonable questions and pleas for them to allow the grassroots to earn their way into leadership positions (as Americans Elect did, to disastrous effect).
The following is largely based on the lessons learned from personal activism, informed by what we’ve seen from attempts to spark centrist movements in the past that fizzled, years of conversations with activists, bloggers, regular people at the grassroots level (including the occasional social media poll – more are coming, for the same reason), research on nonprofit and political organizing and no small amount of soul searching.
Cornerstone 1: Accuracy, Transparency & Basic Ethics Above All Else
Inspired by fantastic work from a range of transpartisan reform organizations and figures, the spirit of what we call our ‘Issue Zero’ is one that we believe should apply to all political organizations.
If we are to hold those with whom we disagree to standards of ethics, transparency and accuracy – and we will, then I believe we must first
meet surpass them ourselves and apply them just as much to those with whom we agree politically, as we do to those with whom we disagree. We’ll go into this stance in much greater detail elsewhere, but there are two top-line stances that underlie everything else: