A social movement is needed to reduce the excessive power of wealth to influence politics. Democracy Matters organizes students in the hope of building such a social movement. It seeks to achieve the enhanced political equality that could be secured with the public funding of election campaigns. Historically, young people have provided a moral compass for their elders, highlighting the need for social change. DM seeks to accomplish today what the civil rights, women's, and more recently the LGBTQ movements have achieved in creating a more just and inclusive society. Change Elections to Change America is a report on the ongoing experiences of Democracy Matters. It was founded in 2001 when the professional basketball player Adonal Foyle provided initial funding. It has grown and brought the issue of the distorting impact of private wealth to the attention of literally thousands of students on campuses all over the United States. But at the same time it has t yet succeeded in bringing to life the kind of a social movement needed for such a radical change. Change Elections to Change America describes the activities of Democracy Matters on campuses. It concludes with a positive assessment of the prospects for building a social movement in the digital age. Social media are invaluable tools that facilitate organizing. But they are substitute for face to face dialogue and persuasion. Success will require a scaling up of organizing efforts. This book is written with the hope that the Democracy Matters experience will inspire others to do the political work that democratizing politics in the United States requires.
Joan D. Mandle has been the Executive Director of Democracy Matters since 2001. In that role, she organizes Democracy Matters campus chapters that involve young people in the effort to reduce the excessive power of wealth in our political process. Prior to that, she was the Director of Women's Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University. Mandle's teaching, research, and publications explore the creation of social movements and their impact on social change in America. She also has had wide experience as an activist. She was Campaign Manager for the successful races of Congressman Robert W. Edgar (D-PA), is a founder of Democracy Matters and presently Chair of the Board of Public Campaign. In conjunction with Common Cause, she led victorious grassroots efforts to pass municipal public campaign financing in Oakland and San Francisco, CA. Her many honors include the Feminist Activism Award from Sociologists for Women in Society for scholarship and activism on behalf of women, and the Oakland League of Women Voters' Civic Contribution Award for Making Democracy Work. Jay R. Mandle is the W. Bradford Wiley Professor of Economics at Colgate University. As an academic he specializes in economic development and the economics of democracy. A life-long activist, he was one of the founders of Democracy Matters, a campus-based organization seeking to create a more equal political system. His most recent publications are The Political Market, in the Journal of Economic Issues (March 2013) and Creating Political Equality (Academica Press 2010). He also contributes a monthly column to the Huffington Blog under the title Money on my Mind. Adonal Foyle is a retired veteran NBA player, who was the eighth overall NBA draft pick in 1997. He played a total of 13 NBA seasons, the first ten with the Golden State Warriors and last three with the Orlando Magic. Upon his retirement from professional basketball, he was Director of Player Development for the Magic. Adonal currently operates Foyle Consulting and Foyle Sports Performance. He is also the Founder & President of Kerosene Lamp Foundation and Democracy Matters.