Civic Unions

Democracy is failing under the control of political parties. Dissatisfaction with state governments and Congress, and abysmal approval ratings for both major parties and many elected officials, shows the lack of trust and respect the public has for people governing the country today.

To get out of this political turmoil and gridlock, Americans must be willing to embrace new approaches for organizing political movements and public discourse. One model with the potential to create strong local bonds and improve trust across sectors are civic unions.

In contrast to many political campaigns that simply mobilize voters, unions can provide a space to discuss critical issues and establish the ecosystem required to develop consensus. They can represent and fight for the rights and needs of diverse communities and constituencies.

Civic unions can become a foundational component of nonpartisan organizing. Rather than lending power to the parties to advance narrow agendas, people could invest in a civic union to consolidate local power and advance common sense policies with broad appeal.

Nonpartisan unions can orient their work around the health, stability, and prospertity of local and regional communities. They can facilitate rigorous discourse among people with diverse views. And civic unions can be a dynamic laboratory for cultivating ideas and nurturing leadership.

America needs an evolution of political thought. People can no longer be passengers to the whims of national parties. People must constitute the backbone and soul of democracy, and their deliberation and debate must inform public opinion and animate public consciousness.

The experience of the entire populace must be welcome in modern political culture, and such wisdom must be employed to establish a common understanding of our rapidly changing world.

Civic Unions

With this imperative in mind, we seek to validate, formalize, and proliferate a civic union organizing model in which nonpartisan local units form the foundation of the union, and elevate and empower representatives to participate in discussions to establish regional consensus.

The following components attempt to articulate the basic intention and general mechanics of this organizing model — which is already being practiced in many communities. We welcome feedback and constructive input on this initial outline and proposal.

Democratic Vision

In a democracy, people are responsible for maintaining the systems and conditions essential for living a dignified and sustainable existence. This collective responsibility is essentially the duty to self govern. Cooperation, trust, and leadership are central components to these efforts and must form the foundation of political organizing and public debate.

Unionizing Mission

Foster independent political organizing and establish a nonpartisan ecosystem for people to cooperate, deliberate, and establish consensus on issues essential to life and democracy.

Organizing Principles

We believe movements that directly serve peoples’ needs and build trust among communities, to be among the most important activities in sustaining a democratic society.

We seek to advance the practice of grassroots organizing and support the formation of civic unions — nonpartisan groups where people collaborate to advance matters of common interest.

We aim to promote cooperation and solidarity among a dynamic network of people across regions to increase independent political power and influence public decision making.

General Structure

Local nonpartisan groups organizing to build independent power make up the foundation of a regional coalition. Many groups already exist and new groups — if choosing to incorporate — could form as cooperatives, nonprofits, social welfare organizations, or political organizations.

Under any structure, unions would maintain a relatively flat hierarchy of active participants, and direct most time and resources toward programs that serve all members of their communities.

For regional discussions and consensus building, groups elevate an official representative to speak to on their behalf. Representatives draft and vote on official positions of the coalition. All people contribute to consensus positions, service programs, and coordinating activities.

Service Programs

Unions will develop service programs to address critical problems facing their local community. Priority and attention will be given to issues that relate to the essential needs of people and that can infringe on their ability to contribute as thoughtful agents of a democratic society.

The union will help all people secure and maintain: nutrition, comfort, knowledge, truth, agency, and autonomy. Such programs are for the benefit of individuals, but they also constitute an investment in the overall health and sustainability of the community.

Service programs might address:

  • Food insecurity and nutritional deficiencies
  • Abundance of adequate housing and shelter
  • Access to education and shared knowledge
  • Employment opportunities and networks
  • Local reporting and journalistic integrity
  • Professional skills and competencies
  • Cultural understanding and tolerance

Political Coordination

Unions will establish a nonpartisan ecosystem for people to deliberate, cooperate, and grow independent political power outside of party structures. The bonds and trust nurtured among a dynamic network of people from many backgrounds with diverse political ideologies will provide a base from which to grow popular support for common sense policy solutions and legislation.

The union will work to develop a shared understanding, establish a common dialogue, and reach broad public consensus on critical issues facing people and democratic society.

Coordinating activities may center on:

  • Leadership development
  • Public and legislative priorities
  • Public deliberation and discourse
  • Establishing consensus positions
  • Increasing civic participation and voting
  • Mobilizing to advance competent leaders
  • Identifying governing bodies for oversight
  • Drafting legislation and public propositions


Thank you for your reading this initial outline and proposal. To provide constructive input and to start a conversation about this project, contact Robert Beets (