Color of Democracy Project (CDP)

Color of Democracy Project (CDP)


An initiative of the Tides Foundation, the Color of Democracy Project (CDP) is rooted in the premise that “the most basic way citizens participate in civic affairs and strengthen America’s democracy is by voting.” However, CDP laments, throughout the United States “low-income communities and communities of color … as a whole are considerably less likely to vote compared to the rest of the population.”

To address this situation as it pertains to California in particular, CDP “aims to promote a more just society” statewide by “ensuring” that these “underrepresented communities can fully participate in the political process.” This is a crucial priority for CDP because statistically, the demographic groups in question give an overwhelming majority of their votes to the same Democratic candidates and left-wing causes that CDP and the Tides Foundation support. Indeed, CDP’s claim that it strives to “improv[e] voter participation rates among these groups” by means of “nonpartisan strategic initiatives” (emphasis added) is belied by the Project’s own acknowledgment that it aims to “create pipelines and new issue environments for progressive candidates,” “create a large and active progressive base,” and “expand Californians’ progressive values and policy positions.”

Operationallly, CDP supports “the empowerment of communities of color and the increase of their electoral engagement” by giving technical, financial, and capacity-building aid to state- and community-based organizations and coalitions that share its core values. Moreover, CDP advocates on behalf of various ballot initiatives and legislative campaigns that center around issues related to the empowerment of low-income minorities. For example:

* Citing its concern for the well-being of poor nonwhites and young people, CDP calls for increases in the minimum wage. But decades of empirical research have shown that because minimum-wage hikes remove the incentive for employers to hire workers with low skills and little experience—i.e., people who are disproportionately young minorities from poor families—those are precisely the people who are harmed the most by such policies.

* CDP exhorts the government to bankroll the construction of ever-larger numbers of “affordable housing” developments—i.e., to use taxpayer money to subsidize the housing costs of low-income people.

* Advocating major changes to land-use and zoning policies, CDP seeks to restrict “sprawling and inefficient land use patterns” by means of zoning ordinances that limit so-called “urban sprawl.” This proposal is consistent with the tenets of “regionalism”—a strategy designed to essentially eliminate America’s suburbs as independent entities by blending them, economically and politically, into the cities they border. The goal of this policy is to redistribute large portions of property-tax and school-tax revenues from affluent suburban areas to poorer neighboring cities. For further details on the phenomenon of regionalism, click here.

In pursuit of its poitical and social agendas, CDP works closely with the Color of Democracy Fund, a consortium of some of the leading progressive donors in California.

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