RepresentUs is a nonpartisan, grassroots movement founded back in 2012 whose stated mission is “to pass tough anti-corruption laws in cities and states across America, and end the legalized corruption that has come to define modern politics.” RepresentUs advocates for state and local laws, often using the ballot initiative process, based on model legislation called the American Anti-Corruption Act — a proposal to overhaul lobbying, transparency, and campaign finance laws.
We were delighted to speak to Grassroots Communications Manager Ellen Moorhouse to learn more about RepresentUs and their plans for the future.
1. As someone who is deeply embedded in activism and local politics, what are some of the biggest challenges facing you and your colleagues at RepresentUs?
Most organizers understand the struggle to reach voters in an authentic way. According to a Suffolk University study of unregistered and unlikely voters, nearly ⅔ of U.S. citizens will stay away from the polls during the coming midterm elections, saying they have given up on the political parties and a system that they say is beyond reform and repair. A corrupt system is the number one reason. why people don’t go to the polls — they feel like their vote doesn’t really count.
At last count, voter apathy is at an all time high, and voter turnout is at an all time low. How can we create the tools and the people power necessary to build movements that drive change when the deck is often stacked against us?
It takes both muscle and passion to make progress. The more people we have, the more strength we have. RepresentUs is a community of doers. We don’t sit back and wait for others to go first, we take action and we do it with energy to build momentum for a nationwide movement.
2. What can local communities do to get involved with you or even help onboard more volunteers?
We need real people to step up, speak out, and lead the reform movement in our local cities and towns. You can volunteer with us anywhere in the country by joining a chapter — and you can also start your own local chapter to bring the anti-corruption movement to your community. We need the people’s help in the fight for anti-corruption reform. There are currently nearly 100 political reform campaigns at the state and local level listed on the Unrig the System Movement Map — the most electoral reforms on the ballot since Watergate.
3. Grassroots is clearly a term we both have in common, we’d love to hear what it means to you?
Grassroots means people powered. It’s working with people, not against them, through the difficult policy issues that affect everyday lives. Grassroots communications is honest and transparent, empowers citizens, and is nonpartisan - giving everyone a seat at the table to solve America’s biggest problems. Our grassroots campaigns bring together conservatives, progressives and everyone in between to fix our corrupt political system.
Our people are at the center of everything we do. They are our feet on the ground, our minds in action, and our vision brought to life. We are building a powerful army of change one member at a time. If we give our members the tools to grow, and they improve on these systems and drive change on a variety of local issues — we all win.
4. In a chapter based organization is there a struggle for autonomy and control between HQ and the chapter?
Here at HQ, we do whatever it takes to make it possible for our members to fight for what matters in their backyards. We strive to empower our chapter leaders and members with the tools they need to succeed. HQ helps in any way we can, but ideally, we’d organize ourselves out of a job as the movement grows and creates a culture that demands better from its government in a productive way.
5.How did you end up being the Grassroots Communications Manager at RepresentUs?
I am a relatively new addition to the team here at RepresentUs. Formerly, I was the Program Officer with the Women’s Fund of Western MA, where I managed communications and adult leadership programming known as LIPPI, the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact. This non-partisan initiative is a civic engagement program that provides women with the tools to become the region’s community leaders and elected officials.
As a result, I grew passionate about connecting people to policy, and RepresentUs does just that. We believe in an America where the government works for you and your family, not just a handful of billionaires and special interests. As Grassroots Communication Manager, I work to amplify the work of our local leaders and volunteers. By working together with our members across the country, we fight systematic corruption in our nation by tackling local issues that have the most impact. We’re going around Congress to build the movement that fixes America’s corrupt political system.
6. Million dollar question: How do you incentivize people to “take part” in politics?
When people have a stake in the future of their government, it changes the way they view their participation in the system. Every local or statewide “win” builds momentum and reinforces that change is worth believing it. When we put the people back in control, the number one thing we hear is “when will you bring this to my state or town?” and our answer is — we need your help!”
We’re here to build the movement that goes around Congress to fix America’s corrupt political system, and we’re working every day to connect with real people and real issues all across the country.
Huge thanks to Ellen Moorhouse and the team at RepresentUs. Check out more of their work here.
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