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The Leaders We Deserve: Values Our Leaders Need in this Political Moment
We are facing on-going crises: COVID; climate crisis, drought, and fires; racial justice reckonings; and threats to our democracy – all of which expose the Bay’s enormous economic and racial disparities in health, housing, public safety, education, and jobs. Communities of color, low-wage workers, and local businesses struggle to survive, and inequity is crippling our entire region. Bay Rising Action is working to elect leaders who will drive bold, progressive change to weather these crises and emerge as a region that champions our shared values of racial, economic, and environmental justice.
We Support Elected Leaders Who:
- Fight for bold, progressive systemic change
- Prioritize economic, racial, and environmental justice
- Possess a clear racial analysis and understand the roots of systemic oppression
- Bring lived experience representative of their constituents, whether it be race, ethnicity, poverty, etc
- Center low-income folks, people of color, immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, and other disenfranchised communities
- Take an organizing approach to politics with strong roots in working-class neighborhoods and community based organizations
We Support Values-Based Leadership
We aim to support progressive individuals who come to positions of public leadership driven by deeply held values rather than ego. These values are not something to be put aside in favor of “practical considerations” upon achieving leadership positions, but they must be married with these considerations. Using a values-first approach provides not only a general moral ground for decision-making, but also provides practical solutions to such common leadership challenges as building alliances, managing conflict, handling public relations, fostering respectful relationships with opponents, and analyzing balances of power.
Our Vision for Co-Governance
What It Looks Like Before You’re Elected
The Bay Area is nationally recognized both for its significant economic and social challenges and as a hotbed of community activism. In communities’ effort to lead policy change, public decision makers often make the difference between great ideas and great change. Yet for the Bay Area’s homegrown leaders who rise through the grassroots to these roles, working in public service can be challenging and isolating. Communities place high expectations on saviors, but fail to provide adequate support and accountability after Election Day. The cycle of hope and disappointment can become self-perpetuating and toxic.
The sheer quantity of both activism and policy innovation in the Bay Area means that there is tremendous power in developing leaders who can collaborate across boundaries on a smart vision for improving the lives of working-class communities, immigrants and people of color. The Bay Area can also benefit from the variety of organizations aware of the power and impact to be had by taking part in governance. All of this means that a collective, rooted approach to leadership is an absolute necessity. Only public leaders who collaborate and are deeply tied with their constituents can ever achieve the power and drive needed to leverage resources to address the Bay’s considerable challenges.
Preparing individuals from underrepresented communities to serve in these positions is not enough. The barriers to meaningful and lasting partnerships – those that go beyond coalitions of interest around single campaigns or issues – exacerbate these challenges. Absent deep community roots and a network of support and accountability with peer leaders, no decision-maker – no matter how skilled, passionate or principled – can single- handedly build the innovations and political will needed to make change. The result is public leaders who lose focus on the values, goals and communities that brought them into leadership, and become reactive to political winds and paths of least resistance. These shortcomings are not merely due to a lack of skill. There is a pressing need for cohorts of leaders who are committed to weaving collective governance into the fabric of public leadership in our region. This constitutes nothing less than a paradigm shift. When you take Bay Rising Action’s Pledge, you commit to this vision of initiating and stewarding deep and lasting partnerships with grassroots activists who will in turn support you to lead as a values-based, goals-driven, accountable public decision-maker who deeply understands the value of collective governance.
What It Looks Like Once You’re Elected
Co-governance is when we and our partner organizations are able to closely partner with elected officials to set priorities together, and help influence policy and regulatory decisions that impact our bases. This collaborative, transformational relationship is based on a trusting relationship and shared progressive ideology of racial, economic and environmental justice. This relationship is ideally established prior to entering office, and ultimately forms a mutually accountable relationship and partnership that advances justice for our shared base of working-class, immigrant, and people of color.
Healthy partnerships between community organizations and elected officials include regular communication, sharing of information and model legislation, research and policy analysis, coordination of outreach and community engagement, and hiring of staff with strong community connections.
Integrity in Fundraising
Democracy should work for all of us. We all deserve an equal say in who represents us and the rules that affect us, no matter who we are, what we look like, or what’s in our bank accounts.
But as long as corporate money controls politics, corporations will control politicians — and working people, people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable communities will pay the price. When corporations and the wealthy and well-connected work to buy elections, you can be sure it’s not to elect people who will represent the rest of us — it’s to protect their own special interests. In this age of increasing economic disparity and concentration of wealth, we are seeing more and more corporations try to “buy” elections.
However, we also see the trend, both locally and nationally, of boldly progressive candidates, many women of color, refusing to accept campaign contributions from corporations, cops, and developers in the interest of maintaining their own integrity and values. We have seen candidates like these appeal to the masses and run winning campaigns by soliciting and accepting small-dollar donations from many everyday people.
Here at Bay Rising Action, we recognize that campaign fundraising is currently both a rigged game and a necessity to win. That’s why we support unrigging the rules in campaign financing – from overturning Citizens United and rooting out dark money, to blocking contributions from those who might have decisions pending before the government, to promoting democracy dollars programs like Seattle’s. This is how we’ll tear down the walls that prevent out-of-the-box thinkers and doers from running for office. It’s one way we can make sure that our elected officials will represent us in the decisions that shape our world. We also enthusiastically support and encourage candidates who reject contributions from corporations, developers, police, and others whose interests are not aligned.
Nominate a Candidate
Hey, [insert candidate handle] – check out @bayrisingaction’s candidate pledge. Will you sign to show your constituents that you’re committed to partnering with us and showing integrity in your fundraising?