At Ben & Jerry’s, we’re big believers in the need to Get the Dough Out of Politics. Dough tastes great in ice cream, but its effects on our government are just plain sour. Our stance reflects the views of a growing and active movement of American citizens, cities and states. Simply put, the amounts that “outside groups” are spending has become a barrier to true democracy. In the 2010 Congressional election cycle alone, these groups wielded nearly half a billion dollars to push their agendas to the top.
But brace yourself. Outside election spending increased by a factor of three from 2008 to 2012, spiked by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision. Citizens United allowed corporations and Super PACs (political action committees) to spend and raise unlimited amounts of money to sway election results. With over a billion dollars in outside spending on elections in 2012, 68% of Super PAC funds came from just 216 donors (according to the Center for Responsive Politics). One person alone donated $92.7 million. This unprecedented concentration of access and influence skews our electoral system to reflect a tiny percentage of the voting population. That’s just about the opposite of what our “representative democracy” was created to do in the first place.
Ben & Jerry’s just signed onto the Principles for a 21st Century Democracy, a guiding document that calls for comprehensive election funding policy reform. Our co-founder Ben Cohen has been writing about this issue extensively. Ben even helped launch The Stamp Stampede, a grass-roots movement that literally uses our own money to get the message out to the American people.
This Thursday from 11:30am-1:00pm EST, Ben and Jerry themselves will be hosting a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). The topic will be the upcoming anniversary of the Citizens United decision, and all the work these two have been doing to help renew American democracy. Got a question about Citizens United, electoral reform, or even cookie dough vs. printed dough? Believe us, they are game. So go on, ask!