Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

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A More Responsive Political System

By Joe Goldman / 2013 February 20th

In my last post, I introduced our grantees working to foster greater bipartisan problem solving in our political system. This time, I’d like to talk about some of the initial grants that we have made towards creating a more responsive political system – the newest program area of the Democracy Fund. At the Democracy Fund, we believe that our political system must be responsive to the priorities and needs of the American public. While organized interest groups are easily heard in the halls of Congress, the general public has fewer avenues to ensure that its priorities are reflected in the policy making process. We need to find ways to make government more accountable to the public and less accountable to political donors. In order to begin to develop our approach to this area, the Democracy Fund has supported research along with a small number of pilot projects. Examples of research that we are supporting include:

  • An initiative by the Campaign Finance Institute in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center to work with a diverse group of scholars in order to better understand what we do and don’t know about how our campaign finance system works and the relationship between money and our democracy. This initiative will produce a research agenda that can inform the broader policy conversation on the issue.
  • Another research program by the Meridian Institute is examining how a diverse group of stakeholders from across the political system think about the role of money in out political system in order to find new ways to support bipartisan dialogue and problem solving on the issue.
  • Research by the Committee for Economic Development seeks to understand the attitudes and views of business about campaign financing and the US political system. This research will help us to understand whether and how business leaders might bring fresh, new perspectives to the polarized discussion about this issue.

Additionally, the Democracy Fund has supported pilot projects aimed at creating a more responsive political system. In particular, the Center for Public Integrity’s Consider the Source program is using investigative journalism to help the public understand how donors are influencing our political system. The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Flackcheck.org has encouraged television stations to reject deceptive SuperPac ads (a program that also addresses our goal of informed participation.) In the coming months, the Democracy Fund will announce additional research that we will be supporting. We’ll also start sharing news of grants to support the strengthening of our electoral system to encourage participation. As we learn from these initial grants and develop our broader, long-term strategy in this areas, we’ll share more here on the blog.

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