Changing the Face of Power
WDN founded the Reflective Democracy Campaign in 2014 to change the conversation on the demographics of political power, and to begin piloting solutions that could break down structural barriers preventing the full talent America has to offer from serving in elected office. WDN members have invested nearly $4 million in the Campaign and its grant partners, and have leveraged more in partnership with other funders.
A Democracy In Crisis
As hostile forces test the resilience of our democracy, political polarization is at an all-time high and faith in our government is at an all-time low. Americans are disillusioned with elected leaders who fail to represent our needs and concerns.
Who Holds Power?
Why is government so unrepresentative? Our research reveals a grave imbalance in the demographics of political power:
- At 70% of the American population, women and people of color hold just 1/3 of elected offices.
- White men are 30% of the population, yet they hold 2/3 of the power.
- A single narrow slice of our population cannot effectively govern America in the 21st century.
Voters Want An End to the “Old Boys’ Club”
Voters get it. Our polls show that across party lines, a majority wants to elect the best and the brightest, not the “old boys’ club” they see today.
But the more representative candidates they seek aren’t even on the ballot, despite evidence showing that women and people of color are just as electable as white men.
A New Vision: Reflective Democracy
To solve wealth inequality, racial injustice, and our crumbling infrastructure, we need leaders who truly reflect the people they serve, and whose life experiences mirror those of their communities. That’s why we are building a Reflective Democracy.
The Campaign conducts groundbreaking research into the systemic barriers that protect the status quo. We provide catalytic funding to transform our political system into a robust democracy anchored by inclusion and equality.
Our Reflective Democracy Innovator grants invest in cutting-edge solutions that break down the structural barriers to reflective democracy. Crafting new approaches and building model programs, our Innovators are tackling the unsustainable divide between grassroots activism and electoral politics; our flawed voting systems; and the invisible and powerful role of gatekeepers in deciding who runs for office and gets the resources needed to win. Learn more at our resource hub for funders.