Political Party/527

Democracy for America

Website:

www.democracyforamerica.com/

Location:

Burlington, VT

Type:

527

Formation:

2004

Founder:

Howard Dean

Democracy for America is a left-of-center political action committee that claims to have more than 1 million members, to have raised more than $70 million for progressive candidates, and been responsible for 1,091 left-progressive candidates being elected to office across the United States. [1]

It has endorsed political candidates such as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for President in the 2016 race for the Democratic Party’s nomination, and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Deb Haaland (D-NM) (as of 2021, U.S. Secretary of the Interior in the Biden administration), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) in the 2018 midterm election. [2]

It has also endorsed the Medicare For All, a proposal to create a government-run “single-payer” healthcare system in the United States by expanding the existing Medicare program to cover all citizens and bar the private provision of health insurance. [3]

History

Democracy for America (DFA) is a left-wing and self-described progressive political action committee created in 2004 by former Vermont Governor, Democratic National Committee chair, and Presidential candidate Howard Dean (D). [4] Dean, who served as the 79th Governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003 and chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, created Democracy for America one month after ending his failed presidential bid in 2004. It was the first presidential campaign to turn into a political action committee. Dean outlined that DFA would focus on pushing left-of-center policies. [5]

Democracy for America first endorsed the “Dean Dozen,” a group of 12 candidates, including then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) in his campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. Democracy for America also campaigned for Dean to become the chair of the Democratic National Committee in 2005 which, while under his leadership, adopted the so-called “50 State Strategy.” [6]

DFA partnered with MoveOn Civic Action, also known by the name of its website MoveOn.org. MoveOn describes itself as “the largest independent, progressive, digitally-connected organizing group in the United States,” and partnered with Democracy for America in 2006 to make more than seven million calls across the United States to urge people to vote in key districts during the 2006 midterm elections. Through petitions, members of Democracy for America demanded presidential candidates for the 2008 election “be more progressive.” [7][8]

After finishing his tenure as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean returned to Democracy for America and started a campaign that assisted in passing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), major health care legislation passed in 2010 by the 111th Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. It has received criticism from right-leaning opponents for overstepping Constitutional bounds with an individual mandate that forces all citizens to buy health insurance, raising taxes, and for interfering with market mechanisms. Left-leaning opponents to the Affordable Care Act have criticized it for preserving a market structure and not pushing the American health system to a single-payer, socialized health care model. [9][10][11]

Democracy for America endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for President in the 2016 race for the Democratic Party’s nomination with 87.9% of the 271,527 votes cast by DFA members nationwide. This was DFA’s first endorsement of a presidential primary candidate. [12]

Funding

As a Political Action Committee, Democracy for America has only ever provided funding to Democratic Party candidates. Democracy for America raised a total of $5.1 million for the 2004 election cycle, it then raised $8.42 million for the 2012 election cycle, $7.4 million in the 2016 election cycle, and $4.8 million in the 2020 election cycle. Democracy for America spent $3.51 million in the 2004 election cycle, 7.91 million in the 2012 election cycle, $6.97 million in the 2016 election cycle, and $4.72 million in the 2020 election cycle. [13]

Despite raising a large amount of money each year, people and entities associated with Democracy for America only contributed $228,845 to federal candidates in the 2012 election cycle, $98,278 in the 2016 election cycle, and $39,886 in the 2020 election cycle. [14]

Democracy for America spent $3,010,301 on salaries and $1,064,822 on administrative expenditure during the 2012 election cycle, $425,318 on media expenditure and $326,758 on administrative expenditure during the 2016 election cycle, $299,500 on strategy and research and $285,147 on campaign expenses during the 2020 election cycle. [15]

Political Activities

Black Lives Matter

Democracy for America “stood in solidarity” with Black Lives Matter, a movement ostensibly seeking to reform police conduct especially as it involves the use of force against African-American suspects and civilians. The movement has been criticized for appearing to tolerate violent demonstrations in its name, for stoking racial tensions, and for creating an unsafe environment for police. It has also been criticized for pushing a left-wing extremist agenda under the false appearance of a moderate reformist movement. [16][17][18][19][20]

DFA highlighted in 2015 that its support for Black Lives Matter would require any candidate that seeks the PAC’s endorsement would have to explain what they have done and will do to support Black Lives Matter, and how they will “confront structural racism within our country’s culture of white supremacy.” DFA also noted that it would seek to recruit and support “progressive people of color to run for office and win in 2016 and beyond.” [21]

Endorsements

Democracy for America endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for President in the 2016 race for the Democratic Party’s nomination with 87.9% of the 271,527 votes cast by DFA members nationwide. This was DFA’s first endorsement of a presidential primary candidate. Charles Chamberlain, the group’s executive director at the time, said in a statement that Sanders was an “unyielding populist progressive,” and his “lifelong commitment to taking on income inequality” helped him win DFA’s support. [22][23]

DFA endorsements for the 2018 midterm election included Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Veronica Escobar. [24]

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), also known as “AOC,” was first elected at 28 years old, and Ocasio-Cortez is as of mid-2020 the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and is a self-identified democratic socialist and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Ocasio-Cortez, fellow DSA member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), controversial U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and left-wing Boston-area U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) are all members of a group of radical-left-aligned U.S. Representatives called “The Squad.” [25]

Democracy for America has also shown its support for Medicare-for-All (often styled “Medicare for All” or “Medicare for all”) a proposed policy to create a government-run “single-payer” socialist healthcare system in the United States by expanding the existing Medicare program from covering primarily older individuals to covering all citizens. DFA sponsored a Medicare-for-all petition aimed to “tell Congress” Medicare-for-all “will guarantee access to health care with comprehensive benefits, without premiums, co-pays or deductibles,” and “reduce health care spending and the cost of prescription drugs.” [26]

Other organizations sponsoring the petition, which had 137,024 as of July 2021, include American Family Voices, Daily Kos, Center for Popular Democracy Action Fund, Progressive Democrats of America, Justice Democrats, and Social Security Works. [27]

References

  1. “Democracy for America : By the Numbers,” Democracy for America : By the Numbers, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/site/by_the_numbers. ^
  2. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  3. [1] “SIGN NOW: It’s Time to Pass Medicare for All,” Action Network, accessed July 10, 2021, https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/m4a-jayapal. ^
  4. “Democracy for America : By the Numbers,” Democracy for America : By the Numbers, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/site/by_the_numbers. ^
  5. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  6. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  7. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  8. “What Is MoveOn?,” MoveOn, January 16, 2020, https://front.moveon.org/about/#.WRW5uIkrK9Z. ^
  9. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  10. James Roland, “The Pros and Cons of Obamacare,” Healthline (Healthline Media, August 17, 2019), https://www.healthline.com/health/consumer-healthcare-guide/pros-and-cons-obamacare#pros. ^
  11. Daniel Denvir, “Bernie Sanders Is Right about Obamacare: Here’s Why It’s Time to Talk about Single-Payer,” Salon (Salon.com, January 26, 2016), https://www.salon.com/2016/01/26/bernie_sanders_is_right_about_obamacare_heres_why_its_time_to_talk_about_single_player/. ^
  12. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  13. “Democracy for America PAC Profile,” OpenSecrets, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-for-america/C00370007/summary/2020. ^
  14. “Democracy for America PAC Contributions to Federal Candidates,” OpenSecrets, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-for-america/C00370007/candidate-recipients/2020. ^
  15. “Democracy for America PAC Expenditures,” OpenSecrets, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.opensecrets.org/political-action-committees-pacs/democracy-for-america/C00370007/expenditures/2020. ^
  16. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  17. Crime, “Black Lives Matter’s Violence Undermines Its Credibility,” The Federalist, July 12, 2016, https://thefederalist.com/2016/07/12/black-lives-matters-violence-undermines-its-credibility/. ^
  18. “Black Lives Matter – Agenda Booklet – Archived,” InfluenceWatch (Capital Research Center), accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2017/08/BYP_AgendaBlackFutures_booklet_web.pdf. ^
  19. Valerie Richardson, “FBI Report Finds Officers ‘De-Policing’ as Anti-Cop Hostility Becomes ‘New Norm’,” The Washington Times (The Washington Times, May 4, 2017), https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/4/fbi-report-officers-de-policing-anti-cop-hostility/. ^
  20. David French, “Black Lives Matter: Radicals Using Moderates to Help Tear America Apart,” National Review (National Review, August 5, 2016), https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/07/black-lives-matter-radical-divisive/. ^
  21. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  22. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  23. John Wagner, “Progressive Group Democracy for America Lines up Squarely behind Bernie Sanders,” The Washington Post (WP Company, May 2, 2019), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/12/17/progressive-group-democracy-for-america-lines-up-squarely-behind-bernie-sanders/. ^
  24. “Democracy for America : DFA’s History,” Democracy for America : DFA’s History, accessed July 10, 2021, https://www.democracyforamerica.com/timeline. ^
  25. Aris Folley, “Ocasio-Cortez Shares Photo of New ‘Squad’ on Capitol Hill,” TheHill, November 13, 2018, https://thehill.com/homenews/House/416370-ocasio-cortez-shares-photo-of-her-new-squad-on-capitol-hill. ^
  26. “SIGN NOW: It’s Time to Pass Medicare for All,” Action Network, accessed July 10, 2021, https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/m4a-jayapal. ^
  27. “SIGN NOW: It’s Time to Pass Medicare for All,” Action Network, accessed July 10, 2021, https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/m4a-jayapal. ^
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Democracy for America


Burlington, VT