Changing the Face of Power
WDN founded the Reflective Democracy Campaign in 2014 to investigate the demographics of political power and explore strategies for dismantling the structural barriers faced by women and people of color seeking elected office. The Campaign conducts groundbreaking research into the systemic barriers that protect the status quo and provides catalytic funding to transform our political system into a robust democracy anchored by inclusion and equality. Since its founding, the Campaign’s dramatic findings have been featured in the national media including the Washington Post, New York Times, The New Republic, The New Yorker, HBO’s John Oliver Show, NPR, and others.
A Democracy in Crisis
On January 6, 2021, Americans witnessed an eruption of anti-democratic violence aimed at overturning a presidential election and installing a regime committed to preserving and expanding white male minority rule, the toxic status quo of the American government.
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. Yet powerful forces have aligned to prevent our democracy from realizing its promise.
Who Controls Government?
Our research reveals grave imbalances 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 opinion research shows that a majority of voters want leadership that reflects all Americans, not the “old boys’ club” in power today. When women and people of color are on the ballot, they’re elected at the same rates as their white male counterparts. The assumption that white men are more “electable” is a myth, and our data proves it.
Grantmaking For Change
Together with our grantee-partners, we are building a movement to repair our electoral system and build a democracy that reflects all Americans.
We are proud to fund civic leadership development programs across the country that feature community-based recruitment of reflective leaders; preparation for a broad range of roles in the political sector; the cultivation of shared values and political analysis; and a deep commitment to shifting who controls key levers of power. Our Community Power Building model positions grassroots groups as the new gatekeepers, replacing major donors and party officials as the power brokers who shape our elections.