Also see Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund (nonprofit)
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) is a left-of-center 501(c)4 political advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The group was founded in 1947 as a response to defections by extreme-left-wing activists from the mainstream Democratic fold under President Harry Truman by a group of 130 “New Dealers” with prominent members including John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., former Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.1
ADA and its associated 501(c)(3), the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund, are funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation,2 the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation,3 the Max & Anna Levinson Foundation, and Proteus Fund, among other groups.4 ADA has also taken funding from labor unions, including the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and the United Steelworkers (USWA).5
ADA has chapters in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with a Mexico-based chapter headquartered in Guadalajara.6
The ADA hosts an annual awards event titled “The ADA Awards” where the organization’s contributions and allies are recognized. 7
Originally formed as the Union of Democratic Action in 1940, the organization was renamed Americans for Democratic Action in 1947.8 Socialists who had left the Democratic Party in the early 1940s formed the ADA9 as the “activist organization of Cold War liberalism.” The formation of the ADA was in response to a supposed “death of the New Deal” and the “defeat of so many progressives in the 1946 elections.”10
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a founding member of the ADA, sought to move ADA away from the Communist Party message but retain left-liberal aspects of the agenda11 like “expanding New Deal social programs and promoting racial equality.” Despite ADA’s distancing from the more radical parts of the progressive movement, the group was portrayed by conservatives as a liberal organization dedicated to “promoting a socialist agenda in America.”12
ADA again tried to distance itself from the Communist sympathizers in the Progressive Party in 1948 by denouncing then presidential candidate Henry Wallace.13
ADA, true to its socialist origins, still works with the Marxist pressure group Democratic Socialists America (DSA).14 ADA advocates for a single payer healthcare system that is, “organized, funded and regulated by the United States government.” ADA claims that it was the first major organization to support a single payer system in the United States, backing the left-wing model of medical care in 1972.15
Federal involvement in Tax, Education and Jobs
ADA supports a progressive tax regime along with federal programs, similar to the “New Deal,” to “create year-round, full-time living wage jobs.” ADA also advocates for federal regulations to require that employers provide a “minimum level of health, pension, and, other benefits, as it does for the minimum wage.”16
ADA believes that a major federal jobs program will alleviate many of the unemployment issues in the United States, especially those unemployed long term, by creating what is called a “Corps Budget.” The “Corps Budget” would employ those without jobs through the Peace Corps, Jobs Corps, and, AmeriCorps. If the program were not to work, ADA contends payroll and income taxes could remedy any deficit.17
ADA supports a major role by the federal government in both state and local level education. ADA views charter schools, vouchers, and, education tax deductions as threats to the public education system.18
“It is unfair for people’s income to be unequal,” according to Woodrow Ginsburg, former chairman of the economic policy committee for the ADA.19 In a report by Mr. Ginsburg, ADA contends that the economic policies of the last 30 years have been devastating for the middle class of the United States. ADA has also advocated for the, “growth of unions to protect the rights of unorganized workers.” To solve the supposed problem of income inequality, ADA advocates for much higher federal income taxes in the Untied States.20
ADA has long advocated for strict gun control, limiting manufacture of firearms to weapons that would be strictly controlled by the U.S. Armed Forces. Hunting rifles and shotguns would also be regulated with design restrictions, with all other types of firearms, most notably pistols, banned by the federal government.21
U.S Senate Filibuster Rule
In 2021, the ADA proposed a change to the Filibuster rule for the United States Senate, whereas the population that each U.S Senator represents would be considered and used to determine if a supermajority may be formed that could break the filibuster. 22
As of 2023, Sen. Art Haywood is the ADA’s National President. In 2014, Haywood was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate serving the 4th district. 23
Prior to Haywood, Daylin Leach was the president of ADA until 2018. As a Democrat, he ran and was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2009 and held the office until 2020 where he lost the primary to fellow Democrat Amanda Cappeletti amidst sexual misconduct allegations. 24 Prior to this, he ran as a Democrat for the 4th congressional district in Pennsylvania during the 2018 midterm elections but dropped out following sexual misconduct claims made in late 2019. 25 Mr. Leach is an attorney and outspoken progressive in his district, especially against President Trump. In one statement Mr. Leach said that a society, “cannot sustain itself” when so few are doing well while the rest of society is struggling to get by. Mr. Leach has also called the President a “fascist, loofa-faced [s***]-gibbon.”26 Mr. Leach supports a single payer health care system27 and a minimum wage of $15 per hour.28
Don Kusler is the National Director for ADA as of 2023. He first joined ASA in 2001 as an assistant to the National Director, later serving as Communications Director and then as Deputy National Director before becoming Director of ADA’s Working Families Win organizing project. 29
ADA legislative activities
ADA rates legislation in the U.S. Congress generally favoring the more liberal political stances of members in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The scorecard used by the ADA rates 20 bills on social justice, economic and domestic policies favored by the organization.30 In 2016, ADA endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for President of the United States. Among ADA’s shared goals with Senator Sanders were, “universal health care, free college education, fair trade, and, putting an end to military misadventures.”31
- Falk, Andrew J. “Americans for Democratic Action (ADA).” Americans for Democratic Action. Accessed July 30, 2017. http://www.worldhistory.biz/modern-history/79901-americans-for-democratic-action-ada.html.
- “Z. SMITH REYNOLDS FOUNDATION, INC. DEMOCRACY AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT GRANTS APPROVED.” Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Accessed July 30, 2017. https://www.zsr.org/sites/default/files/images/ZSRDEMGrantsApproved2008.pdf.
- “Select Past Grantees.” Rubin Foundation. Accessed July 30, 2017. http://www.sdrubin.org/grant-program/select-past-grantees/.
- “Max & Anna Levinson Foundation.” Max & Anna Levinson Foundation. Accessed July 30, 2017. http://www.levinsonfoundation.org/.
- Author’s analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor-Management Standards, from Annual Report of Labor Organization forms filed by AFSCME, CWA, IBEW, and USWA for 2016. Queries conducted July 31, 2017.
- “Local ADA Chapters.” Americans for Democratic Action – ADA Chapters. Accessed July 30, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/about/ada-chapters.php .
- “2022 ADA Awards.” Americans for Democratic Action. Accessed October 25, 2022. https://adaction.org/about/2022adaawards/.
- Walsh, Joan. “Our Battle Scars.” The American Prospect. May 7, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://prospect.org/article/our-battle-scars.
- Egbert, Donald Drew. Socialism and american life, volume i. Princeton University Pres, 2015.
- Ross, Jack. The Socialist Party of America: a complete history. Lincoln: Potomac Books, 2015. Introduction: Page 12
- “Eleanor Roosevelt and the Cold War.” Eleanor Roosevelt and the Cold War. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://www2.gwu.edu/~erpapers/teachinger/lesson-plans/notes-er-and-cold-war.cfm.
- Nor, Thomas J. “Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams.” Google Books. Accessed August 06, 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=Ni61RkoL3jEC&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=%22New%2BDeal%2Bsocial%2Bprograms%2Band%2Bpromoting%2Bracial%2Bequality%22&source=bl&ots=BHxR9mNFtK&sig=VV4UbCJINwrBxvXOEAreHXfwS5I&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjtmofJuMPVAhVCwlQKHaacDmwQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=%22New%20Deal%20social%20programs%20and%20promoting%20racial%20equality%22&f=false.
- Dreier, Peter. “Henry Wallace, America’s Forgotten Visionary.” Truthout. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14297-henry-wallace-americas-forgotten-visionary.
- “CALL TO ACTION: Our Revolution to Rally for Medicare for All Act.” Progressive Voices of Iowa. May 16, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://progressivevoicesofiowa.com/2017/05/16/call-to-action-our-revolution-to-rally-for-medicare-for-all-act.
- “Universal Health Care No. 135.” Americans for Democratic Action – 135: Universal Health Care. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/issues/all-policy-resolutions/social-amp-domestic/135-universal-health-care.php.
- “Income and Wealth Inequality No. 304.” Americans for Democratic Action – 304: Inequality in the United States. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/issues/all-policy-resolutions/economic-energy-amp-env/304-inequality-in-the-united-states.php.
- Wilson, Michael J. “Opinions and Editorials.” Americans for Democratic Action – Opinions & Editorials. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/posts/federal-jobs-program-the-path-to-prosperity387.php.
- “Challenges to Quality Elementary & Secondary Education No. 161.” Americans for Democratic Action – 161: Challenges To Quality Elementary and Secondary Education. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/issues/all-policy-resolutions/social-amp-domestic/161-challenges-to-quality-elementary-and-secondary-education.php.
- “Woodrow Ginsburg, policy center economist.” The Washington Post. June 11, 2011. Accessed August 06, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/woodrow-ginsburg-policy-center-economist/2011/06/10/AGB7udQH_story.html?utm_term=.7ef303854e9e.
- Ginsburg, Woodrow. “Income and Inequality: Millions Left Behind.” Americans for Democratic Action. Accessed July 30, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/media/ADAIncome&Inequality2012-3.pdf.
- “Handgun Control No. 251.” Americans for Democratic Action – 251: Handgun Control. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.adaction.org/pages/issues/all-policy-resolutions/politics-amp-government/251-handgun-control.php.
- Tasner, Clifford. “A New Kind of Filibuster for the U.S. Senate.” InsideSources, April 14, 2021. https://insidesources.com/a-new-kind-of-filibuster-for-the-u-s-senate/.
- “Officers.” Americans for Democratic Action. Accessed October 25, 2022. https://adaction.org/officers/.
- Bernstein, Jesse. “State Sen. Daylin Leach Loses Primary, Talks About Future.” Philadelphian Jewish Exponent, June 17, 2020. https://www.jewishexponent.com/2020/06/17/state-sen-daylin-leach-loses-primary-talks-about-future/
- Lavey-Heaton, Megan. “Pa. Sen. Daylin Leach ends Congressional bid, talks about attacks on his family.” Penn Live, February 25, 2018. https://www.pennlive.com/politics/2018/02/pa_sen_daylin_leach_ends_congr.html
- John L. Micek |. “So Daylin Leach called Donald Trump a ‘S**t Gibbon’ on Twitter.” PennLive.com. February 09, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://www.pennlive.com/capitol-notebook/2017/02/so_daylin_leach_called_donald.html.
- Lawrence, Jill, and Walter Shapiro. “Phoning It In and Failing to Show: The Story of the 2014 House Primaries.” Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings. September 2014. Accessed July 30, 2017. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/primaries_lawrence_shapiro.pdf.
- “Philadelphia 15Now on WordPress.com.” Philadelphia 15 Now. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://philly15now.org/blog/.
- “Staff.” Americans for Democratic Action, Accessed November 29, 2023. https://adaction.org/staff/
- “Cohen Receives Perfect Voting Record from Americans for Democratic Action.” Congressman Steve Cohen. May 16, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2017. https://cohen.house.gov/press-release/cohen-receives-perfect-voting-record-americans-democratic-action.
- “ADA Updates.” Americans for Democratic Action – Updates. Accessed July 31, 2017. http://adaction.org/pages/posts/ada-endorses-bernie-sanders-for-democratic-nomination1118.php.