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Atlantic Union College

True Majority
A Progressive
Grassroots Advocacy
Organization

Devin Berry

Radicals & Reformers/ AMST 305


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Adam Ingano

December 7,2010
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True Majority is a progressive grassroots advocacy organization. Founded in June

of 2002, by Ben Cohen, it is currently rumored to have upwards of 700,000 members.

The central focus of True Majority is to increase America’s investment in programs that

are beneficial to our children. They utilize nonviolent approaches in order to obtain the

desired results. Due to the changes True Majority is trying to make and the ways they go

about achieving change they are a reform group.

True Majority was the brainchild of Ben Cohen. He is the co-founder of Ben and

Jerry’s Ice Cream. Cohen came out of retirement when he saw a need for a group like this

to be formed. “True Majority was founded in June 2002 and grew rapidly as the antiwar

movement emerged, reaching 100,000 members by the end of 2002 and 500,000 a year

later”.1 According to True Majority the membership currently reaches 700,000 members.

It is one of the two largest liberal advocacy groups in the United States.

“True Majority was started to compound the power of all those who believe in

social justice, giving children a decent start in life, protecting the environment, and

having the United States work in cooperation with the world community.”2 The

organization brings together people from all different walks of life in support of

diminishing the amount of the federal budget that is spent on war, defense, and weapons

and for investing in the future of our nation’s children. True Majority brings lawyers,

together with actors, and comediennes. The members include regular Americans who

work regular jobs. Larger organizations are also involved with the efforts of True

Majority. “True Majority also developed a partnership with the Nation Council of

1
Janie Leatherman and Julie Webber, Charting Transnational Democracy: Beyond Global Arrogance
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 82.
2
Rachel Fleishman, Catherine Gerard, and Rosemary O’Leary, “Pushing the Boundaries: New Frontiers In
Conflict Resolution and Collaboration.” Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. 29, 2008:
148-149
4

Churches, helping to reach and mobilize religious leaders and faith-based activists

throughout the country.”3 Following the Invasion of Iran, in 2003, True Majority teamed

up with The World Council of Churches to create advertisements and video clips on why

the United State should not have been going to war.

One misperception of True Majority is that it is solely comprised of former

hippies that are seeking change. Former hippies and flower children are involved in the

organization, “But many Bobos, hippies, or yuppies, or whatever one wants to call them,

have hardly forgotten their roots. If anything their mistrust of proclamations handed

down from a so-called higher sources, be it a government or large corporation, have even

more of a solid foundation, spurring an immediate and wide-ranging reaction.”4, but they

are not the only members. The members of the organization span multiple generations.

Many members are college students and still other are in the 60s, like Cohen himself. In

order to become a member, one is not required to pay dues or attend meetings, but rather

signing up on their website, www.truemajority.com, is enough.

The goals of True Majority are very clearly outlined. As stated on their website

their central purpose is to “increase America's investment in programs that benefit our

children (like schools, health care, HeadStart) by cutting Cold War weapons systems and

shifting the savings.”5 By adjusting 15% of the Pentagon budget there could be $60

billion available to meet the basic needs of Children. Cohen as the founder is very active

in the organization and gives interviews to numerous media outlets hoping to spread the

news about what True Majority stands for. He is quoted as saying, “We think it's crazy

3
Janie Leatherman and Julie Webber, Charting Transnational Democracy: Beyond Global Arrogance
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 82.
4
Sandra Gurvis, Where Have All the Flower Children Gone? (Mississippi: The University Press of
Mississippi, 2006) 278.
5
True Majority. "Who We Are." <http://www.truemajority.org/who/>.
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that our taxes go to build new nuclear bombs while kids' healthcare programs are slashed,

and it's immoral that hurricane victims drown while their National Guard units are off

dying in Iraq.”6 It is not simply the distribution of the federal budget and the war in the

Middle East that True Majority opposes.

Originally True Majority focused solely on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and

the budgets associated with them. Since it’s inception True Majority ahs expanded to

other issues. When the placement of a wind turbine on Massachusetts’s Nantucket Island

was being blocked, “True Majority… notified its 60,000 members to take up arms by

dialing their Washington legislatures”.7 Following the multibillion-dollar bailout of banks

in 2008, True Majority was “was helping to organize protests in 190 cities and towns in

40 states through [the] next week”.8 Additionally, in 2008, they protested the G-20

Summit. Furthermore, they have supported divesting from the company Haliburton on

the grounds that, "Investing public pension funds in a company accused of massive fraud

and war profiteering isn't good economics and it's not good for America,"9 While True

Majority tries to stay out of politics, enabling it’s sister organziation, True Majority

ACTION, to see to the political candidates, True Majority did back Howard Dean as the

chair of the Demoncratic National Convention. Members sent 13,500 on behalf of

Howard Dean.

6
True Majority. "Who We Are."< http://www.truemajority.org/who/>.
7
Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for
Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (New York: Perseus Books Group, 2007) 269-270
8
Todd Wallack and Bryan Bender. “Many Voice Anger Over $700B Outlay.” The Boston Globe 26
September 2008.
9
Sacramento Coalition to End the War, Sacramento For Democracy. “20,000 Petitioners Ask CalPERS
Thursday to Get Tough on KBR, Now Linked to Massive Fraud, Rape and Massacre”,
<http://yubanet.com/california/20-000-petitioners-ask-CalPERS-Thursday-to-get-tough-on-KBR-now-
linked-to-massive-fraud-rape-and-massacre.php>, June 19, 2008.
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“When addition voice is needed, True Majority sends e-mail alerts to members,

who then add their voice to political debates, primarily though cyberactivism”.10 Their

cyberactivism is primarily comprised of having members send emails to governmental

officials and representatives of whichever group or organization they are currently

protesting. In addition to emails, they utilize Internet and newspaper advertisements.

“True Majority specialized in producing graphic and visually attractive newspaper ads

and Internet messages that helped to attract new supporters”.11 They have taken out full-

page advertisements in The New York Times as well as The Wall Street Journal. Members

also speak out with telephone calls, letters, and marches. They have also bombarded the

offices of congress members with faxes.

Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, founded the grassroots

advocacy organization known as True Majority in 2002. It was established to be a reform

group that sought to diminish the amount of money spent on war and weapons, increase

the amount spent on children’s programs, and to keep an eye on politicians. “Based on

the principles of peace, justice, and sustainability, True Majority monitors politics in

Washington”.12 Attention is brought to the work of the organization due to the

involvement that many famous people, like actresses Janeane Garofalo and Susan

Sarandon, as well as the former ambassador to Iraq under President Reagan Edward Peck

have. By teaming up and building partnerships with “a consortium of organizations

ranging from Greenpeace to Co-op America to Rock the Vote to United for a Fair

10
Lynne Woehre, Patrick Coy, and Gregory Maney, Contesting Patriotism: Culture, Power, and Strategy
in the Peace Movement (Plymouth, UK: Rowan & Littlefeld Publishers, 2008) 203
11
Janie Leatherman and Julie Webber, Charting Transnational Democracy: Beyond Global Arrogance
(New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 82.
12
Lynne Woehre, Patrick Coy, and Gregory Maney, Contesting Patriotism: Culture, Power, and Strategy
in the Peace Movement (Plymouth, UK: Rowan & Littlefeld Publishers, 2008) 203
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Economy to the National Head Start Association and others”13 their network expands and

attracts more potential members. True Majority brings people who are interested in social

justice and the future of our nation together and finds a way for the members to show

their feelings to their politicians in peaceful ways. In the words of Ben Cohen, “Well,

we're all just one person. But, True Majority puts us all together in such a powerful way

that politicians sit up and take notice. So if you want to do something about the way our

cookies are crumbling, join True Majority”.

13
Sandra Gurvis, Where Have All the Flower Children Gone? (Mississippi: The University Press of
Mississippi, 2006) 278.
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Bibliography

1. Fleishman, Rachel, Catherine Gerard, and Rosemary O’Leary, “Pushing the


Boundaries: New Frontiers In Conflict Resolution and Collaboration.” Research
in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. 29, 2008: 148-149

2. Gurvis, Sandra, Where Have All the Flower Children Gone? (Mississippi: The
University Press of Mississippi, 2006) 278.

3. Leatherman, Janie and Julie Webber, Charting Transnational Democracy:


Beyond Global Arrogance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) 82.

4. Sacramento Coalition to End the War, Sacramento For Democracy. “20,000


Petitioners Ask CalPERS Thursday to Get Tough on KBR, Now Linked to
Massive Fraud, Rape and Massacre”, <http://yubanet.com/california/20-000-
petitioners-ask-CalPERS-Thursday-to-get-tough-on-KBR-now-linked-to-massive-
fraud-rape-and-massacre.php>, June 19, 2008.

5. Todd Wallack and Bryan Bender. “Many Voice Anger Over $700B Outlay.” The
Boston Globe 26 September 2008.

6. True Majority. "Who We Are."< http://www.truemajority.org/who/>.

7. Williams, Wendy and Robert Whitcomb, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class,
Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (New York:
Perseus Books Group, 2007) 269-270

8. Woehre, Lynne, Patrick Coy, and Gregory Maney, Contesting Patriotism:


Culture, Power, and Strategy in the Peace Movement (Plymouth, UK: Rowan &
Littlefeld Publishers, 2008) 203