The Incorruptibles have been invited by statewide organizers to three states: one red, one blue, and one mixed. The organizers are excited to get us out to certain cities whose residents are especially in need of a little democracy. And we’re very excited to help these cities begin electing true representatives of the people.
Here we present the story of one of these cities to explain why we are so excited to be training them to take over city politics.
This city has been a working class city for over a century. The average per capita income is $23K compared with their blue state’s average of $35K ($28K in the US). The residents are about 50% white and 50% people of color. There are nine seats on the city council, all at-large (not by district). All city council members are white, and eight out of the nine live within a few blocks of each other in the wealthiest district.
The hot button policy issue in this city is about the largest public high school. The city council is about to vote on whether or not to move this school out of the primarily non-white district it has been in for decades and into the heart of the wealthiest district. The vast majority of residents are against it. The city council will probably do it anyway.
We will be meeting with a coalition of concerned residents to present our Strategize Your City workshop. By the end of this workshop, attendees will come away with a strategy and immediate steps they can take to form a long-term organization that will elect true representatives election after election, so issues like this never happen again.
Cities that need it…
In talking to these statewide organizers, we’ve learned something intriguing about grassroots organizing. A trend they see is that wealthy cities have vibrant volunteer-led groups to get out the vote and push representatives on policy, but poorer, more troubled cities do not. Cities most in need of better representation tend to have very little organizing going on and no outreach to regular residents.
We won’t delve into theories as to why this is true in this article; suffice to say that we corroborated this by looking at a few of the cities mentioned to us as needing the most help and it appears that each of these cities has no active volunteer political groups (we looked for Our Revolution, Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, Democratic Socialists of America, and Indivisible).
In some ways, this isn’t surprising. Volunteers are usually people who have free time and whose basic needs are met; if basic needs like rent, health care, or child care are not met, time and mental effort are spent trying to meet those needs first. But these are the people who most need to be in control of their city government, whose needs are never heard and who rarely spend the time to vote. Why should they?
The Incorruptibles are heading straight into these most deserving places to help people on the ground create the reality they need. We’re excited to bring back stories of change and to learn exactly how they make these changes happen.