Frequently Asked Questions

Business for Healthy Democracy

Q: Why is a business alliance needed to advance political reform?

The American business community can be a powerful force for driving change and for disrupting existing policies and practices. As grassroots organizations work to advance political reform, our business coalition can help by demonstrating why these reforms are vital to the nation’s business sector and economy. Our unique economic message and diverse coalition of business leaders are key to bridging the country’s current political divide and getting critical reforms into place.

When we formed Business for America, it was clear that there were no business organizations focused on political reform. We remain the only business league focused exclusively on structural improvements to voting and elections, policymaking, and how government works.

Q: Why should the business community care about elections?

Elections are the key to holding our representatives  —  and by extension, our government  —  accountable. Therefore election reform is foundational to making government efficient, effective, and accountable. To be an effective check on power, our elections must offer voters meaningful choices and be accurate, auditable, and safe from cyber threats.

Partisan gerrymandering, for example, has resulted in a system that favors incumbents and drives both major political parties to nominate candidates with more extreme political views. This has made compromise and consensus not only harder but, in the eyes of today’s hyper-partisans, a sign of political weakness. In such an environment, little gets done. This is just one example of how election reform is critical to achieving sound business and economic policy.

Q: Corporate lobbying has great ROI. Doesn’t the business community prefer government the way it is?

We have the good fortune to know many business leaders who are tired of our country’s broken politics and would rather compete in the economic marketplace than in the political arena. These men and women are Business for America leaders and drivers of change.

Businesses come in all sizes, and business leaders have political viewpoints as diverse as our nation. Not all businesses support or benefit from the way government is run today. Those who recognize that political dysfunction is dragging down the economy also know that their civic engagement can make a difference.

Not every business leader, of course, will want to join Business for America. The businesses that are focused on their own short-term interests instead of the larger business climate and long-term public interest may have no interest in changing the current political landscape.

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Mission & Strategy

Q: Why was Business for America created?

Our country’s dysfunctional political system blocks progress on most of our nation’s public policy priorities. This lack of progress — in areas such as education, health care, infrastructure, tax reform, and employment — harms the business climate, the overall economy, and the public interest. While there are many voting, campaign finance, and government reform organizations working to address this root issue, there hasn’t been adequate involvement from the business sector. That’s why we decided to create Business for America.

As the only business alliance focused exclusively on nonpartisan, structural reform of government and elections, Business for America has a unique opportunity to catalyze political change. By creating a platform for business engagement and making the economic case for a healthy democracy, Business for America increases the odds of achieving meaningful reform.

Q: What is your theory of change?

Our approach to driving political change, distilled from political experts, is based on three essential factors: 1) leadership from elected officials, 2) engagement from groups at the national, state, and/or local level, and 3) some galvanizing event — a crisis or even a scandal — that demonstrates to American voters why the issue matters directly to them.

By advancing reforms at the state and local levels we will build momentum for national change. And by establishing the business case for healthy democracy, we will encourage elected officials of all political affiliations to drive these issues forward. We are working to build an influential nationwide political organization to create opportunities for change and ensure that they are successful.

Q: How will Business for America create political change?

Business for America makes change happen in three ways. First, we give business leaders a platform to drive policy changes at the local, state, and national levels. Second, we advance technology and data science that can improve the way government works without passing new laws. Third, we’re building bipartisan consensus on the need for better government by adding a business voice. Through events, research, PR, and other forms of public outreach, we will make the case that addressing our political dysfunction is an urgent economic priority.

Q: Who is your competition?

Business for America is the only business league dedicated exclusively to nonpartisan structural political reform.

There are many other nonprofit advocacy organizations working for political reform, some of who present business arguments for change and engage the business community. There are also several business leagues who include campaign finance and other political reform within their larger policy agendas. We’re excited to fill a unique niche and partner with these aligned organizations to advance government and election reform.

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Political Viewpoints

Q: What is Business for America’s political stance?

Business for America is a nonpartisan organization that has no partisan political affiliations, associations, or leanings. In order to be effective, we avoid the partisan political fray to focus on advancing the best policies based on their merits. As much as possible, we work to engage members, supporters, and donors from across the political spectrum to advance popular, bipartisan proposals and prove that fixing our government and elections is best for all Americans.

Q: How do you decide what policies to support?

As a small startup, we select policies by conferring with our board of directors, advisory council, business members, and trusted partners in the policy world. It is our primary objective to select impactful policies that stay true to our mission.

Business for America does not take a stance on any policy outside of structural governmental reform (e.g. tax policy) and will not support reforms that are partisan in nature.

Q: Do you endorse political candidates or parties?

No. Business for America does not endorse political candidates from any party.

Q: Is Business for America pro- or anti-Trump?

Business for America is neither pro- nor anti-Trump. Our focus is exclusively on nonpartisan structural reform of our government and elections. Business for America’s conceptualization dates back to 2013, long before Donald Trump was elected president.

Q: Are you “draining the swamp?”

Although the expression “drain the swamp” is catchy, it doesn’t point to any specific solutions to address the many problems in American government and elections.

By contrast, the Business for America agenda targets the root cause of political dysfunction using proven solutions that are ready to implement today. Our structural reform plan will reform the way people are elected to public office, improve the policymaking process once they assume office, and deploy technology and data to help them get better results.

Q: What do you mean by “structural reform?”

Structural reform focuses on process, such as how elections are run, what lobbyists are permitted to do, how regulations are written, etc. Improvements to these laws and regulations are the nonpartisan structural reforms on the Business for America agenda.

Some public policies address substantive issues. These laws that affect people and businesses directly, such as tax law, education policy, and health care. Business for America does not take positions on these topics. Instead, we’re focused on creating a better environment to have these debates.

Q: What is the Business for America stance on lobbying?

Whether the term is used for official purposes or informally, the core purpose of lobbying is to persuade public officials. It’s natural that anyone affected by laws and regulations — businesses, individuals, nonprofits, trade groups, religious groups, unions, and others — would want to influence the process and encourage decisions favorable to their interests.

We support everyone’s right to lobby their representatives. At the same time, we recognize how current rules compromise the independence and impartiality of elected officials. We support changes to help tighten lobbying rules, improve enforcement, close the “revolving door” for lawmakers, and more.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, our policy advocacy work through lobbying is strictly limited. Instead, we educate business leaders who may advocate for public policies and technologies in our agenda. We plan to form a 501(c)(4) for our political work in the future, and we will do more direct advocacy at that time.

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Q: Who funds Business for America?

Funding comes from individuals, corporations, and private foundations. We welcome support regardless of political affiliation, and we strive to balance the political orientation of our funders. Business for America will not seek or accept government funding.

Q: Where does Business for America operate?

Business for America is incorporated in Washington, D.C. and has team members in San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; St. Louis, Missouri; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our growing team also includes advisors across the country.

Q: Who governs Business for America?

Business for America is governed by its board of directors. Given the board’s small size, the board also serves as the organization’s executive committee. We are growing the board to not more than 15 members. When the board is larger, we expect the board to appoint a smaller executive committee.

We also have an advisory council and will be adding various committees and working groups to provide expertise and guide our work.

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When you join Business for America, you become part of a growing network of civic-minded business leaders taking action to build a healthy democracy.
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