Greening the Democracy Reform Movement
At Friends of the Earth we work to create a healthier and just world. Yet, progress on every environmental issue we work on—from curbing climate change to ensuring the safety of what we eat and drink to fighting those who pollute our planet—is hampered by our dysfunctional democratic system.
Gerrymandering has long been part of American politics. Yet the consequences of gerrymandering and voter suppression as political tools are now at the forefront of public discourse. In recent years, powerful partisan interests have weaponized these tools to block environmental and social justice progress. In response, Friends of the Earth is working to reform our democracy so that every voice is heard, equally.
In a true democracy, Americans’ calls for basic human rights like clean air and water would be heard. Unfortunately, we have a dysfunctional democratic system. Politicians choose their voters through gerrymandering and voter suppression—the antithesis of democracy.
That’s why Friends of the Earth is partnering with local groups to ensure every single eligible voter can register to vote and voice their opinions freely. We have demonstrated that environmentalists can win victories and build grassroots political power to drive meaningful, long-term reform.
Here are a few examples of what we accomplished so far:
- Part of the Resistance: In partnership with the Democracy Initiative & Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth coordinated a diverse group of leaders at the Environmental Panel of the J21 Democracy Teach-In in Washington D.C. following the 2017 Woman’s March.
- #FairMaps in North Carolina: Over the summer, hundreds of local Friends of the Earth members contacted state legislative leaders demanding the public release of the NC General Assembly’s redistricting maps. Once the new maps were made public, our community generated one-third of the nearly 3,000 public comments submitted to the NC General Assembly demanding fair maps and representation the states redistricting process.
- Wining at ballot: During the 2016 elections, Friends of the Earth helped two campaigns to overturn Citizens United win decisively at the ballot
- Initiative 735 in Washington & Proposition 59 in California: Over two weeks in Clark County, WA our canvass knocked on nearly 10,000 doors, and talked to nearly 3,500 voters at the door in about the urgent need to limit the secret money flooding our political system and putting our environment at risk.
- Winning in State Houses: In a broad coordinated effort, Friends of the Earth helped pass several legislative victories. In 2016, our members helped block a harmful Voter ID bill in Michigan, and in 2017 we helped pass the California DISCLOSE Act, which shines a light on who is paying for political ads, removing the secrecy from political advertising.
- Our streets: Friends of the Earth played a key role in the Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring week of action in 2016. This was the largest pro-democracy mass gathering seen in our nation’s capital in decades with the combined force of more than 250 diverse public interest organizations – including unions, civil rights, and faith based civil society groups. In a creative use of protest art, we projected an original “SuperPAC-Man” game onto the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce buildings in Washington DC, highlighting the destructive environmental impact of their use of unlimited secrete campaign money.
We will continue to mobilize the environmental community to win actual solutions to the challenges we face.