The Lehman collapse: Revisiting our checks and balances

What if in the weeks following the bankruptcy filing, there had been a way for the progressive community to come together around one goal? Rather than separate online petitions and even more disparate protests, imagine if we had been able to collect millions of signatures, organizing distributed events and pressured our elected officials for one thing: break up the big banks’ monopoly and re-instate Glass-Steagall.

Think back: it’s fall 2008 and we’re watching as CEO Richard Fuld is dragged up to the Hill, grilled by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the House Committeeon Oversight and Government Reform, only to keep his hundreds of millions of dollars while the American economy heads for free-fall. The American people are left with nothing and no one to hold accountable.

Corporations have become so enormous and powerful that it seems impossible to reduce their influence over decision makers or hold them accountable for misdeeds. But while a single organization or government may not have enough leverage to create that change, a loose network of entities andindividuals could equal more than the sum of its parts.

That’s the theory behind the Corporate Action Network, where we are dedicated to finding innovative ways to fight corporate abuse.  This month, we are launching a new online tool set that implements a networked, collaborative model of organizing.  The tool is called the Action Network and it has the potential to completely reimagine the way individuals and groups connect online to hold corporations accountable.  As Twitter unknowingly helped unlock access to instant and free communication for those in Egypt, we trust that the most powerful uses for the Action Network will be found as users dive in, engage with each other and compelling campaigns for change rise to the top.

Up until now, local organizers working in small groups, or small affiliates of large national networks, rarely would have access to powerful, full-featured online tools. Today, we eliminate the technological barriers that have limited the power of the progressive movement. Now groups and individuals can benefit from each other’s work in real-time and campaign in harmony towards the same goals.

We’re putting Obama campaign style cutting-edge online tools in the hands of every local organizer. Armed with a toolset like the Action Network, we’re democratizing online organizing in a way that’s never been done before.

Young is the managing director and co-founder of the Corporate Action Network.  The Action Network tool set is available online at http://actionnetwork.org/.

More in Economy & Budget

Reforming our broken international tax system is smart economic policy

Read more »