What is Rethink Our Democracy? And What Will It Do?

Rethink Our Democracy

Retake Our Democracy is forming a 501-c-3, Rethink Our Democracy. It will become the research and education arm of Retake Our Democracy. We have begun a deep exploration of what Rethink strategies we might advance, but the initial purpose is clear: We want to start by researching and developing language that articulates how most New Mexicans and most Americans have so many shared interests and needs and how the same corporate interests are so adept at dividing us. We need to find common language to bridge the urban-rural divide and liberal-conservative divide. We find ourselves in too many conflicts when we should be united in advancing our shared interests.

Rethink’s second purpose is to use research we have conducted and develop partnerships with other organizations, jurisdictions, and communities to test those ideas in real-world pilot projects designed to demonstrate the justice and efficacy of those ideas and the projects that manifest them.

The focus of Rethink pilot projects will be to foster “community wealth building,” e.g. building local businesses and homegrown regional alliances that foster local economic prosperity and local economic vitality, without relying upon the chain and box store industries who extract community wealth.

Roxanne and I had an illuminating conversation last night. We were talking about local business activity and noted, for example, that there a very few local pizza places: all Dominoes, Round Tables, Pizza Huts, etc. You could consider just about every other industry you can think of and the same pattern applies. You don’t go to the local drug store, you go to CVS or Walgreen’s. You don’t go to a local grocery store, you go to Albertson’s or Target. All of these chains use local labor, generally at low wages, and then extract their profits from the community.

We want to rethink this dynamic and explore ways of developing pilot projects where workers have a significant role in managing and even owning those businesses. Indeed, one of the other important elements we will want to incorporate into these pilots would democratize the workplace by creating worker-owned cooperatives or other business structures that include employee direction of the work and work conditions.

As luck would have it, The Democracy Collaborative has been conducting research and offering technical assistance to communities to support an array of pilot projects for some time and they have been a constant resource. We are scheduled to meet with them early next month. The passage from one of their recent reports aptly describes the kind of pilot projects that Rethink will be seeking to develop.

“The Democracy Collaborative fosters ways to intentionally promote “community wealth building” (CWB)—a systems approach to local economic development that advances collaborative, inclusive, sustainable, and democratically controlled local economies, with the aim of addressing the root causes of poverty and economic inequality. This approach deploys a range of models, including worker cooperatives, community land trusts, community development finance institutions, anchor institution strategies, municipal and local enterprise, participatory planning and budgeting, and alternative
financing, all with the goal of creating a more democratic economy, built on broad-based ownership of—and participation in—the economy. Community wealth building is economic system change starting at the local level.”

From The Democracy Collaborative: “An Indigenous Approach to
Community Wealth Building: A Lakota translation”

We will keep you posted on how Rethink Our Democracy evolves. If you are interested in being involved in early discussions, please write to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com. And feel free to comment below if you have ideas or a reaction.

In Solidarity and Hope,

Paul and Roxanne

Categories: Healthcare & Coverage

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7 replies

  1. CWB–a very worthy goal.

  2. Another example: Last year I received a notice from my Rx insurance that my local pharmacy (Duran’s Central) was not on their preferred provider list. A bit of effort with the folks at Duran’s revealed that the cost of not moving to a preferred (out-of-state mail order) supplier was ~$5 per year. Keep it local, folks!

  3. I am also reading elsewhere about how the Democrats have ignored the needs of small towns which has allowed the Right to exacerbate the divide. An effort to bring together these organizations that are most familiar with our common needs has my full support.

    I also support a (very large) “think tank” to look at how this legislative process grew to be and what needs done to take the policy decisions out of the hands of just two people especially when the voters made a clear choice. I often hear people complain that the Dems don’t do what they promise. Perhaps this is why.

  4. In the interest of bridging, or at least talking across, divides, I think it is worthwhile to look into empathy circles.


  5. My garage wall has a crack that resists repair. It is the symptom of a faulty foundation.
    And this is America’s deep seated problem.
    It isn’t just that the so called founding fathers where all racists, authoritarian slave holders, bigots and white supremacists. After all, just like all of us, they where the product of their time, epoch and socialization. As much as some of them may have tried they could not avoid being what they were made to be.
    I believe that we, who have been heavily socialized by the overgrown Capitalist Culture, can have a chance to begin and move towards systemic change.

    The main stumbling block is ourselves.

    We have been socialized to be of capitalist of mind and heart.
    And capitalism has proven to be destructive of that human half represented by people like Jesus, Gandhi, MLK and countless of unknown man and women like them.

    Patriarchal social systems are based on a skewed, overgrown and unchecked Masculinity. It is mostly expressed in the human male but it also exists in the female (Reminds me of Catherine the Great, the well known Russian ‘enlightened despot’.)

    I believe that Henry Giroux may be one of several thinkers that could help the Rethink group find the right path to change.

    Recently, we white people, were made aware of our personal hidden, or unconscious, and pervasive, racism. So, I believe that it is fair to assume that we also have hidden within us a capitalist ready to use and exploit others just like, for example Bezos has been doing.
    We all carry ‘it’, small or big, repressed and growing or well under control and shrinking, but still there, alive.
    There is so much ‘undemocracy’ in America that it is difficult for me to accept that it ever was a Democracy. Unless the only condition for a country to be a Democracy is voting.
    Maybe this is the first belief system the rethink groups needs to tackle. The fact that most Americans are able to hold two contradictory ideas in their minds for generations.
    The concepts of Empire and Democracy represent a dissonance held by Americans for generations as if it was a rational and logical way of understanding life and reality.


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