Statement of Principles

During his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama said of this generation, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

In the wake of the historic 2008 election, a group of Washington, D.C. area citizen activists convened in response to President Obama’s call to mobilize and help bring change to our nation. Committed to bringing a new paradigm of broad and sustainable prosperity to fruition, we explored various avenues through which to help make the change agenda a reality.  As we moved forward it became apparent that the promise of such change was being undermined by political compromises, ineffective mobilization of grassroots energy, and the ever-present institutional inertia evident across all branches of Government.

We recognize the need to create an environment where bold and principled leadership is rewarded and where the status quo is consistently challenged. However, the apparatus to enact such an agenda is noticeably absent from the current landscape. While many organizations exist with similar policy goals to ours, we believe organizations aiming to directly influence the policymaking environment rather than merely persist or meet a fundraising target are far too few in number. Despite laudable policy aims, such obsolete institutions are unwilling or unable to pressure their colleagues to achieve those aims. Ultimately, some politicians wish to pursue the people’s business at the expense of powerful entrenched interests, but cannot count on allied organizations to provide the level of pressure necessary to fend off the tranquilizing drug of moderation in defense of the status quo.

The Carrots and Sticks Project is designed to help fill that void as a nonpartisan, policy oriented action tank with an authentic grassroots mentality. We are fighting to rebuild America’s economic and physical infrastructure through equitable, sustainable and ecologically sound public policy outcomes by engaging in research and advocacy activities. And in doing so, we will demonstrate that ordinary citizens have the capacity to be powerful independent agents of change, not just cogs in an electoral campaign.

Carrots and Sticks adheres to a long term results-based strategy by:

  • Constructing our organization to be flexible and responsive to the current environment instead of narrow institutional incentives;
  • Utilizing knowledge of the policymaking process to identify key points of obstruction in the political system, and developing strategies to exert targeted influence at those leverage points;
  • Mobilizing social networks and emerging technology in the model of past online organizing with new emphasis on building a new, enduring people-powered coalition for change;
  • Engaging in a Beltway-oriented brand of grassroots policy advocacy, directly interacting with targeted policymakers on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch on a regular basis.

For more information, please send us an e-mail at


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