Our Plan

The most effective [pro-democracy] coalitions are those that bring together groups with dissimilar – even opposing – views on many issues.

– Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die

Combining person-to-person and social media approaches, Saving Democracy encourages Americans of ALL political stripes (Independents, Republicans, and Democrats) to step up to the moment, with an involvement that could make all the difference.

Saving Democracy is focusing its work in purple swing districts in Southern California, making appeals to Democrats, Republicans, and no party preference (NPP) independents. NPPs make up approximately one-third of voters in many areas of the country. Saving Democracy will also reach out to and craft appeals to infrequent and new voters to stress that voting is the best way to exercise our power as American citizens.

Saving Democracy taps into those feelings of patriotism and love of country that nearly all Americans possess. The goal of Saving Democracy is to bring about a small but significant percentage increase in the pro-democracy electorate. In close-fought swing district races, this marginal change could make all the difference in the electoral outcome.


Focus on the Civic Middle, the Disaffected, and Younger Voters

Democracy will not be saved by appeals to party loyalists. For 20-plus years, the nation’s political consultants have won elections by messaging to the base while largely ignoring the middle. In strictly partisan terms, the nation is sharply polarized into Blue and Red camps.

  • But this ignores the “Civic Middle,” the ballast of our political system. Many Americans are moderates who find themselves in the political center between the parties. These independent-minded individuals believe that committed partisans often take positions that go too far to the right or to the left. While smaller than in the past, the Civic Middle still exists. It includes those moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats who feel abandoned by their party, as well as NPP and infrequent voters.
  • Additionally, disaffected voters across the spectrum, from conservatives in the Liz Cheney mode to those on the progressive left, must be urged to vote. Our goal is to help people, regardless of how alienated they might feel, believe that a working democracy promotes a culture where even those without power can participate and be heard. Everyone needs to feel that they matter and that their voices can be heard. Should we become an autocracy, America’s proud tradition of individual rights will be a thing of the past. Democracy is not just about the democratic process. When it works for all, democracy is a way of life.
  • Saving Democracy will reach out to Gen Zers. A surge of the youth vote could right our democratic ship.  We believe that by stressing the fragility of democracy and how their vote and participation matters, younger voters can better see the risk from autocracy and act.

We believe our best chance to break the nation’s political impasse is to speak to the civic middle, the disaffected, and younger voters and to drive home what is at stake when one of the country’s two major political parties is no longer loyal to the Constitution and the central democratic premise of free and fair elections.  This is not the time to write off politics as much ado about nothing.  Only when semi-loyal politicians suffer electoral defeat will they see the cost of following the authoritarian road.

Technology and a New Generation

The cornerstone of any democracy since Aristotle has been to persuade enough of the population to your way of implementing a common vision in the lives of its citizens. Today, the creation of digital platforms powered by data science has resulted in the proliferation of social media channels. Once, the traditional news media held sway over voters. Now, through fragmentation and micro targeting of the “like minded,” people can be organized into communities and open forums where racism is freely expressed.

The result of exponentially democratizing the processing and sharing of information, without vetting and fact checking, has been to increase misinformation, blatant propaganda, and systematic lying about politics. The digital media revolution spreads information at nanovelocity and along with it any lies and misinformation to which its adherents cling. Regrettably, corporate media news gathering and reporting is not equipped to help people understand and process what is at stake.

Our hope is that young people have a grasp of the new media landscape, its implications for our democracy’s health, and can teach us about these new lenses of democratic persuasion.  Building trust through face-to-face interactions while sharing space and fostering community in reliable online and physical environments is crucial to rebuilding belief in our political system.

Persuasion Where It Has Impact: Small Groups and One-on-One

Large organizations – whether it be a presidential administration, corporation, business group, labor union, nation-state, or religious organization – are largely immune to education and persuasion. At the societal level, as Reinhold Niebuhr taught and Martin Luther King Jr. understood, what is required is some form of coercion. The Civil Rights movement deployed the coercive power of nonviolent protest. Emphasizing personal interactions and small group dialogue, Saving Democracy will operate in the sphere where education and persuasion can – and do – have a powerful effect. Additionally, Saving Democracy will employ social media for positive ends.

At the conclusion of the eighth Jan. 6 committee hearing, Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney said:

We must remember that we cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation.

Action Plan

Southern California Swing Congressional Districts

Summer 2023 to Fall 2024

FOUR SoCal Target Swing Districts

  • Katie Porter 47th (Huntington, Newport, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Laguna)
  • Michelle Steele 45th (Fountain Valley, Westminster, Garden Grove, Cypress, Buena Park, Cerritos, and parts of Brea, Fullerton, and Yorba Linda.)
  • Ken Calvert 41st (Corona, Temescal Valley, Palm Springs, Palm Desert)
  • Mike Garcia 27th (Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Lancaster)

For each of the three-prongs described below, Saving Democracy is educating citizens and college students about the authoritarian threat, and equipping them to recognize what a belief in and commitment to democratic principles and behaviors look like.

1. Speaking to Local Civic and Business Leaders

Starting in the Summer of 2023, we began speaking to local business and civic leaders across Orange County.  Here we are generating a dialogue about the erosion of democratic norms, stressing the business community’s strong interest in having a stable, rule-following democracy where extremism and threats of violence are sharply discouraged.  Our speaking program is directed at civic groups such as Rotary and Kiwanis groups, Chambers of Commerce and business councils.  We speak about our shared values as Americans, the pride we can take from America’s founding and our aspirational ideals, and the dangers of extremism.  Our central message to these groups is that American democracy has survived and flourished for nearly 250 years in large part because of our shared values and because the far-left and the far-right have never had a strong voice in national politics.   The conversations we start tap into the members’ interest in a strong and stable democracy.

2. Neighbors for Democracy: Door-to-Door Canvassing

We have developed an innovative Neighbors for Democracy program that allows people to walk door-to-door in their own neighborhoods to network with other pro-democracy households , while also reaching out to infrequent voters and disengaged citizens. As part of the recruitment effort, we encourage pro-democracy activists to open their homes for Coffee, Cake and Democracy get-togethers to explain the Saving Democracy program and recruit their neighbors to the effort. A key part of the Neighbors for Democracy program is educating volunteers so they can reach out to others in their networks and communities.

The Neighbors for Democracy program is easy to understand and advance.  It aims to generate those deeper conversations in which people open up about what they value and aspire to for themselves, their community, their nation.

3. Young Voters

We are reaching out to universities and community colleges in our target congressional districts to educate their student bodies on the threats to democracy and mobilize them to join our efforts. Along with offering seminar speakers, we can assist with any voter registration and civic engagement efforts in order to provide an outlet for those students who are looking to join us in our grassroots movement.