In our current election system, it is far too easy for political races to be bought and sold. Supreme Court decisions, including Citizens United, have prioritized the interests of the super rich, allowing a very small percentage of people to overrule the voice of true democracy. The result— lawmakers pegging their decisions to million dollar donors— is a significant cause of the policy logjam that’s become the humiliating and frustrating headline of our once robust democracy.
You’ve likely read about our efforts to Get the Dough Out of Politics. Now we’re excited to announce that we’ve signed onto the Principles for a 21st Century Democracy, a guiding document that we believe is a turning point in the push to renew American democracy. It lays out the framework for an open and honest electoral system where everyone participates, and everyone’s voice is heard.
Dozens of groups that have been working on this issue are now converging into a true movement. And that’s how We The People are going to win our democracy back. There’s been incredible progress toward reaching critical mass on this issue. 16 states, along with some 550 cities and towns, have formally called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and more than 3.5 million Americans have signed their name to petitions to overturn Citizens United.
Other big victories for democracy in America took large-scale movements that were willing to continue the fight for years: just think about granting women the right to vote in 1920 and passing the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Now it’s our generation’s turn. What we’re after is pretty basic stuff, which is why this movement is resonating with people of all walks of life across the country. It’s the bedrock of what our democracy was set up to achieve in the first place— protecting the right of every voter to wield the same influence, without discrimination based on how much money you have.
The next big victory is going to ensure a participatory democracy that puts the voice of the masses above the voice of the super rich. That’s why we’re so excited about the Principles for a 21st Century Democracy. This document lays out the voting rights that should be enshrined in law, rather than squelched under millions in campaign donations. The goal is to enact policies that support every voter’s participation, and the Principles point out that the first step toward this is to ensure the voting public knows who is buying influence in our elections and government. We need common sense election rules that replace the outsized influence of big money with equal access and influence for every voter. And we need new laws that hold elected officials accountable to the people— with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.
Why does Ben & Jerry’s care about this? Because even though we’re a company, we believe democracy belongs to the people— and a vital and fair democracy is the fastest way to produce laws that lead to social justice, economic prosperity and environmental health. And isn’t that what we all want?!