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In the days preceding the October 17th United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty we have seen the launch of PRODUCT (RED) in America, led by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage American corporations and consumers in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and “Stand Up Against Poverty,”a worldwide effort to set a Guinness World Record for the most people literally “standing up” against poverty.
Both activities draw our focus again towards global poverty, Americans who care about it, and individuals who continue to find innovative ways to respond. But can we translate conscious consumerism and grassroots advocacy into political action?

The PRODUCT (RED) Manifesto summarizes the ingenious business model:

We believe that when consumers are offered this choice, and the products meet their needs, they will choose (RED). And when they choose (RED) over non-(RED), then more brands will choose to become (RED) because it will make good business sense to do so. And more lives will be saved.

Simple, right? So why don’t we apply this common sense business model to our own model of U.S. democracy. It would go something like this:
We believe that when Americans are offered this choice, and the government meets their needs, they will choose (RED) politicians who care and vote for policies that help reduce global poverty. And when they choose (RED) politicians over non-(RED) politicians, then more politicians will choose to become poverty-focused because it will make good political sense to do so. And more lives will be saved.
Let’s hope the momentum generated by consumers, corporations, and other Americans who care about global poverty and believe that providing assistance to poorer countries reflects American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as our own national security interests and economic well-being, is infused into the political discourse in the run-up to the U.S. elections on November 7, 2006. (See Why Global Development Matters for the U.S. for more details.)
May we see a wave of people, dressed in (RED), (RED) iPod ear buds in place, marching to the polls to vote (RED).
For more on the launch of PRODUCT (RED), see Bono and Oprah walk into a store to do some shopping...

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.