As Texas moves closer to becoming a full-fledged battleground state, new and disaffected voters are finally attracting the attention they deserve. I’m working with a growing list of partners and advisors to assemble and provide increased influence to Texans who feel under-represented in America's current political landscape, empowering them to keep candidates and elected officials on both sides of the aisle focused on the issues otherwise lost in the partisan shuffle.
We don’t raise our kids to be Democrats or Republicans and we shouldn’t entrust our future solely to those labels, either. Texans value work, family and community as keys to the American Dream. To unlock that promise, we must look toward each other and the men and women who seek to represent us to establish shared priorities and expectations.
Right now, expectations could not be lower. At least two generations of Americans have grown up believing that getting involved means picking a side. Extreme partisanship, wedge strategies and a campaign industry that profits from both are driving citizens away. To stay competitive, news outlets sustain gridlock and incivility by rewarding sensational, not substantive, politics. In those rare elections when we see increased turnout, voters are more often primed to vote “against” something rather than “for” anything.
It’s not hard to understand why. Regular Americans are seldom, if ever, a part of the policy planning or candidate selection process. Partners and pathways to constructive participation are hard to find and the barriers to entry are too high. Too much time, too much noise, too little impact. And all too often, new perspectives are unwelcome.
The hurdles facing new candidates are also unnecessarily high: creaking, cryptic campaign infrastructure; a party system that vilifies 49.9% of our neighbors and picks front-runners long before a race begins; political machinery that rewards officeholders for putting party over public.
I want to focus on fixing these problems with USTomorrow, a portfolio of startup initiatives supporting community, candidate and campaign commitment to move beyond the divisions that fuel partisan politics. Collectively, these initiatives are designed to lower partisan barriers between politics and progress by strengthening three weak links in the American political process: civic participation, candidate support and campaign infrastructure.
USTomorrow, a non-partisan, nonprofit pilot program focused on civic participation, education, mentorship and activation, will launch in September. With events, strategic programming, new data collection and analysis, and a first of its kind digital communications platform, USTomorrow will open in the 17 congressional districts that include Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
In its pilot year, USTomorrow will develop and provide regional coalitions with the tools and infrastructure to develop cross-partisan solutions to the growing workforce readiness crisis in Texas and the United States. Our goal is that after the 2020 election, 17 members of the Texas delegation and their constituents will share a new commitment to work toward a cross-partisan solution on a non-wedge issue.
USTomorrow is honored to be joined by a number of existing organizations with aligned missions and the expertise to help address this issue while strengthening our damaged system.
Candidate support will come through USTPAC, a political action committee, which will launch after the March 2020 primaries.
Clean politics needs a seat at the table. USTPAC will facilitate financial support of general election campaigns and candidates from both parties committed to campaign innovation and cross-partisan solutions, values and plans of action. This will be an open process, not cloaked in secrecy.
Campaign infrastructure and new commitment to break down campaign inefficiencies and partisan barriers will require new tools. Still in stealth mode, we’re building the foundation for a November launch of the USTomorrow campaign tech accelerator. The accelerator will support non-partisan campaign innovation by startup companies to break down or bypass campaign inefficiencies and partisan barriers to effective public service.
None of this will come easy. But I’m committed to building this new network of influencers and mentors into a calming force in Texas and beyond. Daily, partisan factions on both sides of the aisle highlight the need for USTomorrow’s pragmatic approach to a new day in American politics. We must seize the moment.
Joseph Kopser has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.