The 8 Most Unexpected Advocates for Democracy

April 14, 2016

Ben & Jerry's - Advocates for Democracy

Our democracy is a broken mess. Picture a cone dropped on the ground on a hot day. Sprinkles everywhere, melting ice cream. But worse. That broken cone is our democracy, and that ice cream melting out of it represents the voices of real Americans. The system sure isn’t working, and it sure isn’t doing a service to the voices it represents.

And people from all over, from all walks of life, know it.

As long as massive mega-donations continue to flood our elections, as long as African-America, young, elderly, and low-income voters are disenfranchised, then we’ll never be able to get anything done, we’ll never see any action on the issues that matter to us and to most of the population. The elite, pro-corporate agenda of the absurdly wealthy will win out, every election, every time.

The bright side to facing such a huge problem is that an amazing and unexpected diversity of people and groups are uniting to find a solution.

This April in Washington, D.C., at Democracy Awakening, an unprecedented array of groups, advocacy organizations, activists, and everyday concerned citizens are rallying to return the power in this country to the people. They understand that the problem—the one at the root of all our problems, the one standing in the way of making progress on the environment, on civil rights, on labor issues, and so much else—is our broken democracy.

Together we’ll fight to make voting accessible to everyone. Together we’ll fight to block the massive influx of unaccountable corporate money into our political system. No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, this is your fight too.

Here are just some of the unexpected advocates for clean elections and a fair democracy we’ll be seeing in D.C.:


CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization that wants to put an end to U.S. militarism. It supports peace and human-rights initiatives, and advocates for redirecting our taxes to pay for other programs that are desperately needed. We’re wondering if, just maybe, politicians might be more open to backing such peaceful initiatives if weapons manufacturers and defense contractors, etc., could not so easily drop bags of money on their desks every election.


Greenpeace has long been associated with worldwide environmental activism. Its campaigns against whaling, nuclear testing, and habitat destruction are legendary. So why is Greenpeace, along with other environmental organizations, like, joining the fight for a better, more inclusive democracy? Because while mega-donors don’t seem to value the environment, the rest of us do. Less Big $$$ + more voters = a better future for the health of our planet.


“Business” is so often depicted as putting profits over people that it may be surprising to see a number of business organizations among Democracy Awakening’s attendees. But small, Main Street-sized businesses have for many years been pushing back against the influence of huge corporate donors in politics. The Main Street Alliance calls for fair policies that benefit business owners, their employees, and the communities they serve.


Almost 100 years old, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the oldest and largest grassroots civil-rights organization in the country. With its national stature and local chapters, the NAACP fights for justice at every level. And at every level it’s becoming increasingly clear that today’s voter-suppression laws are merely the modern incarnation of the Jim Crow South.


The National LGBTQ Task Force is the nation’s oldest LGBTQ advocacy group. For more than 40 years it’s been fighting for LGBTQ equality in housing, employment, health care, and everywhere else. Many of the people and organizations pouring money into elections these days are typically in support of anti-LGBTQ legislation and voter suppression.


Back in 1969, UCS founders drafted a letter urging the government to stop misusing science, to direct research away from military technologies and toward social and environmental change. Now, with science under attack by well-funded climate-change deniers and campaigns being bankrolled by the fossil-fuel industry, getting big money out of politics could not be more critical in protecting scientific progress.


The UUA is committed to Seven Principles that include the worth of each person, the need for justice and compassion, and the right to choose one’s own beliefs. While at first blush it may be confusing to see religious organizations join the fight to repair our democracy, considering the whole “church and state” thing, it begins to make perfect sense the more you think about it.


This might be the strangest one of all. Why would an ice cream company join a rally to restore democracy? Well, Ben & Jerry’s, of course, is no ordinary company. Ever since our founding, we have used the success of our business to support our social mission. And we believe there is no greater threat to society—and to all the social programs and progress we support—than the broken state of our democracy.

These groups and so many more, no matter their mission or area of expertise, all have the same question: Why should a select few billionaires decide who can vote, and in turn, who gets elected? They shouldn’t.

Together, we can put the power back where it belongs: with the people. Learn more about Democracy Awakening, here: