Together, we are a powerful force for good.
Our country is at a pivotal moment. We are facing daunting challenges that have been building for generations. We need a movement suited to meet this moment and, People For the American Way is well positioned to lead this vital work.
Like our foremothers and forefathers who assembled at key moments in our history and found the courage and inspiration to fight injustice, we now must find similar courage and inspiration in each other. We’re bringing together elected officials, faith leaders, civil rights leaders, activists, and the most dynamic and dedicated members of any national progressive organization (you!) to make this the country that we all know American can be.
In addition to our core work of defending democracy and fighting back against far-right extremism, People For is developing and promoting solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our time. These solutions are anchored in our common values and address three core areas, which we can sum up in a familiar phrase: Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
Truth is under attack in our country today, as forces of oppression seek to stifle the teaching of history, and in many cases, to rewrite our history – including efforts to push the Big Lie about our last election.
Valuing truth means protecting key freedoms. It starts with the freedom of educators to teach and students to learn the full story of our nation’s rich, often troubled, and complicated past, so that every child is prepared to participate and lead in our democracy. And it doesn’t stop there: we are called upon to counter the forces of hate and bigotry that seek to further entrench their own power by undermining truth. This is a charge we accept with humility and commitment, and it guides our steps every day.
People For members, members of our Young Elected Officials Network, and members of our African American Ministers in Action are already on the front lines, fighting back against attacks on the freedom to learn at the state and local school board levels.
Justice is at the core of our shared belief in the promise of America. Today we believe that true justice means transforming our public safety systems, and protecting the freedom to live in peace without fear of unwarranted police violence. It means supporting communities to adopt new models for public safety departments. It means that nowhere in this country should it be a crime to be Black or Brown, or LGBTQ+, or unhoused, or ill, or without financial resources.
People For the American Way spent the two years since the murder of George Floyd developing a road map for transforming public safety. We looked at the research and worked with criminologists, public officials, clergy and other community activists, and members of law enforcement. The result is “All Safe, Transforming Public Safety,” an extensive blueprint for public officials and community activists seeking to make their communities safer.
Among the essential steps to make policing more just and more effective at the same time are: improving recruiting to weed out potentially dangerous cops, holding violent officers accountable, and getting unfit officers off the force. Also, importantly, restructuring public safety systems to reduce the unnecessary involvement of armed officers in situations where they are not needed and for which they are not trained is good for cops as well as communities.
This All Safe model is largely based on a local reform movement in Ithaca, New York, where local People For the American Way members and organizers teamed up with other activists from the community to put their bodies on the line in the face of great opposition from powerful proponents of the all-too-familiar, yet broken, status quo. They knocked on doors, educated voters and public officials, and were ultimately successful in advancing some of the most innovative measures for reimagining public safety in the country. Some of the local members of the People For family in Ithaca were so dedicated to this game-changing work that they even left their day jobs to work on the campaign full time.
3. The American Way
The American Way is rooted in our profound commitment to representative democracy. It is the freedom to vote and have our views fairly represented. In its ideal form, it means that the concept that the candidate who earns the most votes wins the election extends to our national presidential elections. Put simply, that means that winning the popular vote should determine the outcome of presidential elections.
Our antiquated Electoral College system has robbed us of authentic representation over the years, and more than once it has elevated candidates to the presidency who have lost the popular vote. It is time to look past the Electoral College and explore alternative ways to conduct presidential elections in our country.
Our challenges are big, but our faith – in the American Way and the values that collectively act as our North Star in this movement – is bigger. I invite all of us to enter this movement with open minds, open hearts, and the curiosity to learn from one another. Ask questions, speak what is in your heart, and approach every person with love. Together we are a powerful force for good.