Blue Jean Nation is working to promote the transformation of democratic institutions that are failing America and reinvigorate our republic through community outreach, civic education and engagement, grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy and social action.
What’s the point?
The point is to break the grip political professionals have on our democracy, get the party establishments to change their ways, and get ordinary people – we the people – back in the driver’s seat of our government at a time when both major parties are failing us. Citizen-centered, people-powered politics, that’s the point.
How do you do that?
From the ground up, with plain people leading the way. There’s no waiting for political messiahs to come along. When past generations changed the face of American politics on multiple occasions, they started by shedding old labels and fashioning themselves a new identity. They attached their hopes and dreams and ambitions to those new identities and built citizen movements around them. They used the power generated by these movements to compel failing parties to change their ways. Such efforts succeeded more than once. We need to apply these lessons to current conditions and modern circumstances.
Is this about creating a third party?
No, absolutely not. It’s about making a first party – a party that will put common people first, ahead of the royals of American politics, namely the wealthy donors and powerful special interests and their lobbyists. Third-party movements operate outside the two-party system. Their goal is to have three or more parties. A first-party movement works within the two-party system and focuses on making sure there is at least one that is truly dedicated to doing the will of the people. Today both major parties are putting the money ahead of the many. They are too busy catering to the royals to truly represent and serve us commoners. That has to change.
Another key difference between third-party and first-party movements is that third parties appeal to the fringes of American politics – to the left of the Democrats or to the right of the Republicans. First-party efforts reach out to and compete for the affections of all voters.
Why not a third party?
Third parties are aptly named because they are destined to finish third in elections. For better or worse, like it or not, the U.S. has a two-party system. We do not have a parliamentary democracy where competing factions can join forces to form coalition governments. It’s not possible here for a third or fourth or fifth party to align with a second party and establish a ruling alliance. We also do not have fusion voting, or instant runoff voting, or proportional representation, or any other such mechanism or structure enabling third parties to be consistently viable contenders in our elections.
Could a first party become the only party?
America is far too diverse for all people to feel well represented by a single party. Also, one-party rule is incompatible with a true democratic republic. Blue Jean Nation’s aim is to reinvigorate America’s democratic republic. In any case, a first-party movement is not a single-party movement. It is the exact opposite. The purpose of a first-party movement is to reinvigorate and strengthen the two-party system, to force parties that are failing us to change their ways. When past generations put this strategy to work, in one instance a major party was driven to extinction and replaced by a new one, and another time both major parties adapted to the citizen movement and were transformed. The major parties are failing us again. It’s time for another makeover.
“Commoners working to house the politically homeless.” Explain.
Most Americans believe the political system is stacked against them. And most have little use for either major party. In fact, the percentage of Americans who refuse to identify themselves as either Democrats or Republicans is at its highest level in three-quarters of a century. Most believe their voices are not being heard, their wishes are not being represented or even taken seriously, and their interests are not being served. This is what it means to be politically homeless.
When we say we are commoners, we simply are distinguishing ourselves from the royals of American politics. As past generations did, we are fashioning a new identity for ourselves as we build a political household that regular folks will actually want to belong to and live in.
Are commoners liberal or conservative or somewhere in between?
You will hear no talk of liberals and conservatives from us. Or left and right. Those terms have acted as convenient shorthand used to label people, but the words no longer mean what they once did. The code has become garbled. The labels are obsolete and only serve to divide people who actually have much in common. So we throw off those labels.
We want common sense to be less uncommon in politics. We look for common ground. Our end goal is advancement of the common good. To reach that goal, we work against political privilege.
About Our Founder
Blue Jean Nation founder and president Mike McCabe is the author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics and for 15 years was the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan watchdog group that specializes in tracking the money in state elections and works for reforms aimed at making people matter more than money in politics. During his time with the Democracy Campaign, Mike was a leading government whistle blower and earned a reputation as one of the nation’s best political money trackers. Under his leadership, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign was named the Citizen Openness Advocate of the Year in 2012 by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council and the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2013, Community Shares of Wisconsin honored Mike with its Community Leadership Award, and in 2015 the Wisconsin Farmers Union gave him its “Friend of the Family Farmer” award. Mike is a Wisconsin native and was raised on his family’s dairy farm. He is a 1982 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism, which honored him in 2015 with its Distinguished Service Award.
Before joining the Democracy Campaign’s staff in 1999 and becoming its director in 2000, Mike worked for six years as communications director and legislative liaison for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Before that, he ran a statewide civic education program for the nonprofit Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. He also formerly worked as a newspaper reporter and as a legislative aide for three Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In addition, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African country of Mali. While at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Mike co-authored Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America’s Heartland for the Midwest Democracy Network and while at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance co-wrote The Framework of Your Wisconsin Government as well as a curriculum guide on state and local government for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. A much sought-after public speaker, Mike has made more than 1,500 presentations to a wide range of audiences over the course of his professional career.