Executive Council Statement | Civil Rights

The 2016 Democracy Spring, Awakening and Congress of Conscience

Millions of working people are standing together for voting rights and rejecting corporate billionaires’ attempts to silence the majority by buying elections and politicians

As the race for president heats up and the divided U.S. Senate debates whether or not to uphold the Constitution regarding Supreme Court Justice appointments, we find again in each of these realms that partisan politics and corporate interests directly threaten the fabric of our democracy. This April (11th-18th) in Washington, D.C., and across the country, thousands of working people, advocates and activists will be united under the banner of more than 200 labor, civil rights, human rights and environmental organizations as part of two waves of activism: the Democracy Spring (www.democracyspring.org) and the Democracy Awakening/Congress of Conscience (www.democracyawakening.org). Through these actions people will collectively denounce the partisan and wealth divide and demand a democracy that works for all Americans.

This year presents us with an opportunity to move a winning agenda for working people and the communities we serve. It’s an opportunity to fight forward and reclaim the economic narrative that speaks for working families, as well as an opportunity to build an independent political movement that aligns with our shared values.

2016 also reveals some major obstacles: the continued erosion of rights for working families, the attack on an economy that works for everyone, and the assault on one of our most fundamental democratic rights—the right to vote. The residents of Flint, Michigan, who have suffered under austerity rule, and other communities across this country know the cost all too well. The right to vote, fair representation and access to democracy are key in moving a winning agenda for working people and ensuring that not one community continues to suffer needlessly.

Our members must be engaged as voters, activists, volunteers and stakeholders. Our unique infrastructure, which is in place in 50 states, allows us to catalyze organizing, mobilizing and resourcing democracy work with and through our affiliates, constituency groups and national strategic partners. Therefore, we stand firm with the principles of the Spring Democracy uprisings:

  • expansion and protection of voting rights at the federal and state level;
  • preventing corporations and the wealthy few from buying elections;
  • changing structural rules to ensure that every vote and every voice counts equally; and
  • reshaping the political debate to demand full democracy at every level of government.

The institutions of our government need to function on behalf of the people regardless of who has power—it is bigger than parties, politics or profits. That is why this spring, when thousands of Americans stand in solidarity to demand reform, the labor movement will call for the Senate and House, the nation’s highest deliberative bodies, to act as the founders intended and ensure democracy for all.