Back in 2004 I was informed but completely uninvolved. The thought of knocking on doors or cold calling people and asking for their vote scared the hell out of me and to a certain extent still does. However, I got caught up in the beginnings of the people-powered movement that started here at DailyKos. The combination of the pure energy of being involved here plus the 2004 election pushed me over the line.
I was one of the co-founders of an organization called BuyBlue.org and we had the radical idea that we could move the business community towards embracing progressive values by energizing consumers and encouraging them to "vote with their wallets." I'd never done anything like that before but I firmly believed then and now that we could use market forces to bring about progressive change and that progressive leadership was not only something to strive for, but good business.
The past two years I've worked tirelessly knowing that I very well might not see the ripple effect of this idea we all shared and brought to life online any time soon - that is until this past summer anyway. I was on the verge of burnout this past June when a man by the name of Daniel Adamson started to aggressively seek me out. Daniel sent a few emails to our general address that went unanswered and then started to look for me through other places on the Internet I call home. When we first spoke he said that he had been following BuyBlue for quite a while, he'd been inspired, and had thrown caution to the wind to start the first blue mutual fund so people could invest blue as well and he wanted our help. For me that made it all worth it and brought my energy and motivation level back to where it was when we first launched.
The Blue Fund is a family of mutual funds that invest in companies which both "act blue" and "give blue." Many of you are familiar with socially responsible mutual funds like Calvert, Domini, Pax, etc - there are about 200 of them. The Blue Fund takes typical socially responsible screens such as environmental sustainability, fair treatment of employees, no weapons, etc. On top of that it layers a political screen - no company is included unless they have contributed 50% or more of their political contributions to Democratic candidates since the 1998 election cycle (read about their screening process).
The Blue Large Cap Fund is based on the S&P 500 index. At the beginning of this diary you'll find a chart that shows what might have happened if you had invested $100 in the 500 current members of the S&P 500 on June 30th, 2001. Today that would be worth $134 (black line). If you had invested that same $100 in the 76 companies comprising the Blue Fund's large cap fund you'd have $239 (blue line). If on the other hand you'd invested in the companies not in their fund, the current "red" S&P 500 companies - your return would be worse than the return on the S&P 500 (red line).
As the Blue Fund team was doing this research it occurred to them that there might be something to this, so they set out to do some analysis. They've written a white paper titled "The Blue Factor" and you can download it from their website. The paper describes in detail how "blue" companies have outperformed "red" companies and the reasons why this has happened.
In 1971 Justice Powell wrote a letter that has come to be known as "The Powell Memo" or "The Powell Manifesto" - read it here. This memo served as the strategy document around which big business and the Republican party allied themselves for their mutual benefit so that the economy would not be dominated by "communists, new leftists and other extremists." I believe that The Blue Fund is our chance to begin unraveling the 35 years of work behind that strategy by building a progressive financial infrastructure and showing the world that progressive business leadership is superior.
This morning a Slate article came online titled Blue Is Green: Why Democratic-leaning companies outperform Republican-leaning ones.. Apparently there is a fund out there that invests in Republican-leaning companies, but according to the article it hasn't done so hot, underperforming even the S&P 500. It seems that the analysis done by the Blue Fund Team is in fact valid and accurate.
I'm on the advisory board (meet the team) along with some names you may just be familiar with such as Simon Rosenberg (President and Founder, NDN), Joe Andrew (DNC Chair 99-01), Ron Klain (Chief of Staff for Al Gore), and Gina Cooper (Executive Director YearlyKos Convention).
We hope that you'll join us in spreading the word about The Blue Fund.