By Ben Cohen
I remember reading Abe Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in my high school civics class. We were taught that we had a representative democracy, in which elected officials went to Washington to work for the people back home, and our representatives transcended their self-interest and worked together for the common-good. As Lincoln described it, “A government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
But the system is broken; or fixed, depending on how you look at it. No matter which issue you care most about—the environment, education, healthcare, poverty, Wall Street banks, student debt—it’s unlikely that our representatives will listen to you unless you have a million dollars to spend on advertising, campaign contributions and high-priced lobbyists.
That’s because in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that money is free speech. They then went even further in Citizens United v FEC, saying that corporations are people and therefore can spend unlimited amounts of money to influence laws and elections. In other words, the Supreme Court perfected a system of pay-to-play politics in which corporations and billionaires spend big bucks on elections, and lobbyists and are awarded with cushy government contracts. According to a new study by the Sunlight Foundation, between 2007-2012, the nation’s 200 most politically active corporations received $760 for every $1 they donated to influence politics.
On the wall in my office, I have a quote from Ralph Nader: “If we had justice, we wouldn’t need charity.” Big money in politics is the root of injustice. Big money has corrupted our Republic to its core and has transformed our government into a rigged game. So what else can we do but hack at the root of injustice?
There is a national movement afoot to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Over 5 million people have signed petitions in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get big money out of politics. You can click here to add your name to our petition.
And our lawmakers are beginning to listen. 55 senators and 150 house members have gone on record in support of a 28th constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
16 states and 550 cities and towns have passed resolutions, calling on Congress to pass the 28th amendment.
Some people say that a constitutional amendment is impossible, but nearly every generation has amended the Constitution to protect and expand our democracy. This is our generation’s fight to win.
Join the movement by adding your name to our petition. Let’s work together to reclaim a government of, by, and for the people.