What is Democracy for America?
Democracy for America (DFA) was founded on the idea that the grassroots are the key to the Democratic Party’s success. For too long party leaders were beholden only to moneyed interests and high-powered consultants. The closer the Democratic Party aligned itself with Washington insiders, the further rank and file Democrats wandered from the polls on Election Day. Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign re-energized the grassroots by tapping into the progressive values that they cared about: strong communities, security at home and abroad, and liberty for all people to live the way they chose. Democracy for America was founded by Gov. Dean and built by those energized activists to help reform the Democratic Party from the ground up.
DFA is a member driven, people-powered PAC. Our members are the source of DFA’s strength and the key to us growing stronger. DFA listens to members by working with them online and in the field on local issues and local campaigns. We base our decisions regarding issue campaigns and candidate endorsement on the work and opinions of our members on the ground. By analyzing data our members provide through online actions, we can act on instant feedback regarding the appeal of certain issues and candidates. We report back on our progress or setbacks to our members and work with them to figure out how to move forward together. DFA members play an irreplaceable role in our decision-making processes.
What does Democracy for America do?
DFA is committed to uniting people behind the shared values of community, security and liberty and fighting to realize a fairer, more progressive America.
We believe that the best way to achieve this America is by electing real progressives to offices up-and-down the ballot, all across the country. We recruit and train progressive candidates to run for all levels of public office, and we mobilize citizen organizers to make a real difference on issues.
Throughout election cycles we tackle critical issues that have an impact on Americans’ lives; issues like healthcare reform, equality for everyone and improving our environment. We believe that delivering real change on these important issues will result in more progressives winning elections – and a more progressive America.
Programmatic work like Campaign Academies and Action Summits in cities across the country provide members with tools and skills and give us a chance to work directly with leaders on the ground. DFA members can get one-on-one support from a professional DFA field organizer, empowering them to improve their own communities. DFA puts a premium on being outside of the Washington, DC bubble so that we will continue to be an accessible, member-driven organization.
DFA was started during a technological revolution in politics and we strive to innovate new ways to communicate with and engage our membership. As an organization, we work to achieve the best political results possible while being nimble and flexible to our members’ needs.
Why does Democracy for America do what it does?
We believe in a better America, in community supporting the individual, in a safe and secure future for all and in the liberty for each of us to live our lives the way we choose. This is the country we believe in and we go to work every day in an effort to make America better.
Democracy for America will not compromise on its core values of community, security and liberty. We believe that these values are more than just words on a website or a piece of paper; our values speak to fundamental American rights and truths that need to be advanced and fought for every single day.
DFA also cares deeply about building a strong progressive movement. We want to support a movement of people who are engaged at all levels with many groups for systematic change.
How does Democracy for America do its work?
Democracy for America executes every campaign using the organizing philosophy underlying Gov. Dean’s 50 State Strategy. Dean’s 50 State Strategy argued that the only way Democrats can win and earn the mandate to govern progressively is by investing in the grassroots base of the Democratic party; competing in races in every state and at every level from dog catcher to president; and building for long-term power rather than short-term gains.
In practice, this means that DFA is explicitly concerned with taking action in ways that empower and develop grassroots activists; nurture and grow the grassroots both inside and especially outside traditional Democratic strongholds; and explicitly value victories that are bigger than winning or losing a single election or campaign.
We believe that winning campaigns and elections is essential for building a powerful progressive movement. However, we also believe that looking beyond the next election and positioning ourselves for even bigger, more meaningful wins down the road is just as critical.
When our elected leaders stand up and fight for values, we stand with them and fight alongside them. When elected leaders DFA supports disagree with us on how best to stand up for our values, we are committed to working with them to find alternative ways to address those values. However, we are also unafraid of confronting our friends and holding them accountable when they fail to stand up for what we believe in.
DFA takes a network approach to organizing. We don’t start affiliate groups or chapters, but instead give activists and volunteers tools and support to empower them to organize from the community up. While there are many groups that associate with the national DFA brand, they are all unique entities who are free to endorse candidates, take issue positions, and design their own campaigns.