Rootstrikers was founded in April 2011. In November 2011, Rootstrikers, along with Change Congress and Fix Congress First, became a project of United Republic, a non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization. In September 2012, Rootstrikers reorganized under the umbrella of Fund for the Republic, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to challenging the undue influence of well-financed special interests over American politics and government. As of July 2013, Rootstrikers became a project of Demand Progress, an organization founded by Aaron Swartz, an internet activist. The organization plans to use technology to help engage people.
The name "Rootstrikers" is based on a quote from the first chapter of Henry David Thoreau's book Walden: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". In December 2011, Lessig appeared on The Daily Show starring Jon Stewart and suggested that the public needs to strike at the root of money in politics; Stewart advised Lessig "You need a better term than rootstriker." Lessig credits the line quoted above from Henry David Thoreau's book Walden for inspiring the name.
In his 2012 book One Way Forward, Lessig proposes what he termed the Anti-Corruption Pledge. Lessig launched the Pledge as a project of Rootstrikers on February 24, 2012 on MSNBCâs show Morning Joe. The pledge is available for people to sign to show their support for the fight against corruption. The Pledge has four provisions:
Rootstrikers is one of 15 organizations in the Money Out / Voters In coalition that sponsored "A 28th Amendment" conference at the UCLA School of Law, Saturday, November 17, 2012.Lawrence Lessig was the keynote speaker. The agenda included presentations by other experts, including Greg Colvin, who provided a dozen questions that he thought should be answered for any proposed amendment on this issue. The conference web site also includes a comparison chart of 21 alternative amendments, 18 that have already been introduced in the US congress plus language proposed by Free Speech for People, Greg Colvin, and Move to Amend. Of the proposed amendments, five were identified as primarily attempting to limit the constitutional rights of corporations; the other 16 were described as dealing more with campaign finance, though there is overlap. The conference ended with breakout sessions and a call to further action.
^Stempeck, Matt (February 27, 2012). "Lawrence Lessig on Politics and Awakening a Sleeping Giant". PBS. Retrieved June 5, 2012. ...Lessig led with this Thoreau quote that inspired the name of his Rootstrikers campaign: "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."...Â
^Mornin, Joseph (16 November 2011). "Rootstrikers and United Republic: A letter from Lawrence Lessig". United Republic. Again and again, I have been driven back to a favorite line in Thoreauâs Walden ...Â Missing or empty |url= (help)
^Antle, W. James III (2 November 2011). "Rebooting the Republic". The American Conservative. Ron Unz/The American Ideas Institute. Rootstrikers, a left-wing group dedicated to the proposition that corporate money has a malign influence on American politics, and the conservative Tea Party Patriots had banded together to organize a Conference on the Constitutional Convention. The progressive left and the populist right would spend two days together studying Article V of the U.S. Constitution.Â