On March 4, 2009, the leaders of several leftist organizations and unions called a press conference to announce the formation of a new politically-oriented coalition, “Rebuild and Renew America Now” (RRAN), alternately known as “Unity ’09.” Consisting of more than 40 national groups mutually dedicated to facilitating the passage of “President Obama’s historic budget” (a $3.55 trillion budget for fiscal year 2010), RRAN’s roots could be traced back to late 2008 — when such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, Health Care for America Now, Media Matters for America, the National Council of La Raza, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Sierra Club first collaborated to plan its creation and development.
The March 4th press conference featured statements by Anna Aurilio, Director of Environment America; Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center; Alan Charney, Program Director for USAction; Bertha Lewis, CEO and Chief Organizer of ACORN; Chuck Loveless, Legislative Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Khalid Pitts, Director of Political Accountability for the Service Employees International Union; Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association; Tiernan Sittenfeld, Legislative Director for the League of Conservation Voters; and Brad Woodhouse, President of Americans United for Change.
Spearheaded by MoveOn.org, the fledgling RRAN issued a statement hailing “President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget” as a “visionary blueprint that turns away from the failed economic policies of the past and seeks to invest in our future” by means of “major investments in health care reform, education, and clean energy, while restoring fairness to our tax system and reducing military expenditures over time in a responsible manner.” The RRAN statement predicted that the foregoing priorities, if enacted, would: “turn back the harsh trend of rising poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness”; “expan[d] health care coverage”; “mak[e] college more affordable”; “suppor[t] the financial and nutritional needs of low income families”; “expan[d] affordable housing”; “inves[t] in a far-reaching policy that will develop clean sources of energy and protect the planet by reducing global warming pollution”; and “generate good jobs to rebuild our middle class.”
By the end of March 2009, RRAN’s membership had grown to include more than 100 national member organizations, among them being: ACORN, Alliance for Justice, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation, Campaign for America’s Future, Campus Progress Action, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Center for Community Change, the Children’s Defense Fund Cities for Progress (a project of the Institute for Policy Studies), Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the MoveOn Action Fund, the National Education Association, the National Priorities Project, the National Women’s Law Center, Pax Christi USA, People For the American Way, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club, Sojourners, TrueMajority, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United States Student Association, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, USAction, the Wilderness Society, Women’s Action for New Directions, the World Wildlife Fund, and the YWCA USA.
The RRAN membership roll also included many local and regional groups, as well as the state chapters of such leftist stalwarts as Amnesty International, Citizen Action, Code Pink, Public Citizen, and Veterans For Peace.
RRAN focuses its attention chiefly on state-level, rather than national-level, initiatives aimed at influencing public opinion. The longtime activist Heather Booth oversees the coalition from the offices of USAction. Another key RRAN staffer is former Obama campaign aide Aaron Pickrell.
RRAN serves as “the field organizing complement” to Progressive Media, an entity launched in February 2009 to provide leftist activists with a consistent set of political talking points that can be used to discredit Republicans and critics of President Obama’s policies generally.