The Common Good Messaging Team can help you articulate and communicate common-good policies to voters, using stories, language, and more. Our goal is for common good candidates to win, so common good policies will prevail.
→ The Problem
→ The Opportunity
→ Our Contribution
→ Our Method
→ Our Structure
→ The Common Good
→ Our Story
→ Your Next Step
Why We’re Here
For too long, progressive and moderate candidates have let right-wing politicians monopolize the language and values of faith, and they have played into a false media narrative about the “religious Republican right” and the “secular Democratic left.” This failure has handed elections to candidates who abuse faith and spirituality in ways that are bad for everyone — for religion, for politics, for the nation, and for the world.
In particular, the election of Donald Trump in 2016, with support from a large sector of religious voters, awakened growing numbers of forward-leaning candidates and religious leaders to the need for greater collaboration for the common good.
Globally, many evangelicals lean left: What that means for America’s future
Washington Post – August 30, 2019
Pete Buttigieg: Religious left is ‘stirring’
Religion News Service – August 29, 2019
The Christian Left, Appalled by Treatment of Migrants, Is Reviving in America
Truthout – August 19, 2019
Dems make a play for faith voters turned off by Trump
Politico – June 12, 2019
Who We Are
As a group of progressive Christian leaders from Evangelical, Catholic, and Mainline Protestant backgrounds, with years of experience at the the intersection of faith and politics, we see this problem as an opportunity. We seek to bring resources from the Christian tradition (with which about 75% of Americans are affiliated) to support common-good policies and candidates. Because we are progressive Christians, we work closely and respectfully with our Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious colleagues, along with secular and humanist leaders who seek the common good. Because we are a 501(c)4 organization, we support common-good candidates directly.
What We Do
The Common Good Messaging Team helps candidates and religious leaders articulate common-good policies and communicate those policies to voters, using stories, language, lines of moral reasoning, and metaphors that will win elections by winning voters, especially religious/spiritual voters. Our goal is for common good candidates to win, so common good policies will prevail.
Confidential training and consulting for candidates, elected officials, and their staff teams.
We provide one, three, and six-hour training to help common good candidates and elected officials win elections so they can promote policies for the common good. We offer initial training and an ongoing resources and relationships to help candidates
- understand the spiritual and religious make-up and concerns of their potential voters,
- demonstrate personal qualities and modes of communication that connect with spiritual and religious voters,
- tell their unique story to make authentic connections with spiritual and religious voters,
- articulate progressive, common-good policies in faith-friendly ways,
- address hot-button topics in faith-sensitive ways,
- avoid common mistakes, and
- keep spiritual and religious concerns as a priority before and after the election.
Training and consulting for religious leaders.
We help religious leaders clearly and confidently support progressive, common-good policies backed by resources from their tradition, with sensitivity to the separation of church and state and their own unique ministry setting.
- We respond to invitations from forward-leaning clergy groups to provide half-day and full-day training experiences that integrate theological content, historical and political background, media training, and experiential learning.
- We present our Seven Guidelines for Common Good Communication.
- We supplement these in-person trainings with online resources.
- We create and promote voters’ guides and other relevant resources that can be distributed in faith communities.
Introductions of candidates to faith leader allies.
Some faith leaders choose to publicly endorse common-good candidates. Others prefer to publicly endorse common-good policies without endorsing a specific candidate, making it possible for them to support a candidate indirectly without a direct public endorsement.
- We recruit faith leaders, especially in critical districts, who can support common good policies and/or candidates.
- We facilitate introductions of candidates and faith leaders.
Additional Online Resources
- Online training resources to support campaigns and movements for the common good.
- Support from a think-tank of theologians, faith leaders and activists, academics, and communications professionals committed to the common good.
Connection to the Larger Vote Common Good campaign.
Because we are part of the large Vote Common Good campaign, our efforts synergize with the bus tours and rallies, media work, and other activities of Vote Common Good.
How We Operate
For candidates, elected officials, and their teams:
1. Initial Contact: We make initial contact with candidates and lawmakers, explaining and offering our services, or respond to inquiries, in order to schedule a training session.
2. Pre-Training Preparation: Whenever possible, we study the existing communications of each candidate so our services can be tailored to their unique strengths, and we ask each candidate to complete a brief pre-training preparation worksheet.
3. Training Session(s): We meet with senior staff and candidates for a more in-depth personalized training (usually 1 or 3 hours). In this training, a) we help the candidate and staff understand the importance of articulating their message for religious voters, b) help the candidate articulate their story in reference to religious values and connections, c) offer guidance on addressing key policies and hot-button issues, d) offer suggestions for improving existing communications, e) explain Common Good Communication commitments, and f) offer additional training and resources moving forward, including introductions to influential progressive faith leaders, retainer services, website review, etc.
4. Retainer Services: When requested, we will assign consultants to monitor specific campaigns and their communications, offering ongoing feedback and consultation, assistance in planning and speechwriting, crisis response, etc.
5. Online Resources: We provide online training modules to help staff understand the Common Good strategy, along with detailed white papers that summarize common good messaging in relation to key policy issues.
Other methods of delivery can be developed and adapted as needed.
How We’re Organized
Vote Common Good is organized as a 501(c)4 organization, because our goal is to educate, equip, and support candidates who will win elections and work for the common good. The Common Good Messaging Team is structured as follows:
Co-Directors: Develop and oversee the project, report to the Vote Common Good executive team.
Scholars-in-Residence: Public theologians and activists with academic and practical expertise provide input for all messaging.
Consultants and Advisors: Over twenty area experts provide advice and consultation, and create content as requested.
What Is The Common Good?
Why We Care
When the Hebrew Scriptures say to treat the alien and refugee as you would want to be treated, because God desires compassion for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the vulnerable, they call people to seek the common good.
When Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself, and when Paul says not to seek your own interests only but also the interests of others, and when John and James say that no one can say they love God or have faith in God if they fail to demonstrate love for their neighbor, they call people to seek the common good.
When the Quran says that no one is a believer until they desire for their brother or sister what they desire for themselves, and teaches that God made us different so that we would seek to understand and know one another, the Quran calls humanity to seek the common good.
When great leaders of Sikhism say to value others as you value yourself, and to avoid creating enmity with anyone because God is within everyone, when Taoists say to regard your neighbor’s gain or loss as your own, when Buddhists and Hindus say do not hurt others in ways you would find hurtful, and when secular humanists advocate the principle of reciprocity, they call humanity to seek the common good.
This means that good-hearted Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of all traditions cannot simply vote for what is best for themselves as individuals or even what is best for their religion, party, race, or nation alone, but must be concerned for the common good. Or to put it differently, selfish people of every religion and tradition vote for self-interest or partisan interest alone, but good people of every religion vote for the common good.
What Brought Us Here
Vote Common Good was born in the aftermath of the 2016 election, but our story goes back much farther. The Religious Right, from its birth in the 1970’s and its rapid growth in the 1980’s, forged an increasingly intense and complex partnership with the Republican Party. By enmeshing religious, racial, regional, and political identity, they successfully elevated two issues – criminalizing abortion and opposing equal rights for LGBTQ persons – as litmus tests for “family values” voters. With remarkable focus and skill, they weaponized these “family values” as wedge issues and a war cry. The strategy worked, raising billions of dollars and securing millions of votes for the last forty years, culminating in the support of over 80% of white Evangelicals and 60% of white Catholics for Donald Trump in 2016.
Throughout this period, the Democratic Party failed in election after election to address this shift. Party leaders seemed content to become the secular party and cede religious voters to the Republicans.
After the 2016 election, a group of progressive faith leaders decided to stop complaining and start organizing. Vote Common Good was born. For our initial project, we launched a massive cross-country bus tour in 2018. In stop after stop, we heard Evangelical, Catholic, Mainline, and other religious voters say that they had never felt validated as progressive voters of faith.
We also heard from candidates. Nobody in the political world was helping them hone their message to faith-based voters. Nobody was helping them address hot-button issues directly and clearly. Nobody was helping them make their case in language religious voters would understand. Nobody was helping them make connections between their own spirituality and their political message. The Religious Right had them on their heels again and again, and they didn’t know how to shift from defense to offense, even though they were progressive because of their deepest beliefs and moral values.
Based on this feedback, we decided to mobilize for the 2020 elections by creating the Common Good Messaging Team, to seek the common good and speak for the common good, drawing from the deepest teachings of our faith traditions.