The concept behind Social Advance is simple: an organization that performs the functions of a political party without actually becoming one. But why?
Our election laws, and the way they condition voter behavior, sustain a two-party system in which people have three choices for engaging in electoral politics:
- Join one of the two major parties, even if you don’t fully agree with their general orientation. The major parties are dependent on big financial donors and rank and file voters have limited influence.
- Join one of the minor parties that best matches your values. Our electoral system keeps minor parties marginalized and they have little effect on government.
- Don’t join a party at all. You won’t have a role in the primaries which determine the nominees for partisan elections, and without a group to work with will be even more marginalized.
I know this from experience. I was a registered Democrat for over three decades, a Green Party member for five years (I was also a state officer and candidate of the party), and have been an “unaffiliated” voter on-and-off for about nine years.
I also know I am not alone in feeling frustrated at these choices. You can see the tension play out in the divisions within the major parties, the increasing number of voters who don’t register with a party, and the numbers of voters attracted to “outside the box” candidates.
The concept of Social Advance occurred to me in mid-2017, when I was struggling yet again with the above choices. Why couldn’t there be something that acts like a party—developing a platform, educating voters, recruiting and engaging volunteers, supporting candidates—without actually becoming a party?
I created a blog to explore the idea, began discussing it with politically engaged friends, and over the next year, with the help of Kris McAlister, drafted the four goals and a proposed constitution for the organization. A few others joined us in refining the constitution and five founding members adopted it on October 30, 2018. We are now in the process of launching this experiment, and invite you to consider joining us.
Board of Directors
Decisions for Social Advance are made by a Board of Directors, the members of which are to be elected annually for staggered two-year terms by the voting members of the organization. The initial Board is composed of:
Alan Zundel: A former political science professor who has worked on election reform for over a decade, Alan was the Pacific Green Party candidate for Oregon Secretary of State in 2016.
Kris McAlister: A resident of Springfield, Kris uses his experience and interests to help the greater community on issues surrounding poverty, homelessness, and health care access.
Charles Dunaway: After a career in IT, Charles is now Producer and Host of a radio show and podcast called Wider View that focuses on international news.
Social Advance is based in Lane County, Oregon.