Description"The direct path to political power is supposed to be through elections, but the corruption of big money in politics and the impacts of voter suppression are keeping ordinary Americans from having an equal voice. Just 61 billionaires giving an average of $4.7 million each matched the small donations of 1.4 million small donors to the Obama and Romney campaigns. States are restricting early voting, making it harder to register to vote, and creating barriers to voting itself with the intent of keeping people who disagree with politicians from voting rather than attempting to win them over.
So people, particularly young people, are choosing alternative routes to change, organizing locally through the Occupy movement and/or organizing directly by serving at soup kitchen, or volunteering in their communities. And while these alternatives are critical to making change, and provide instant gratification of the changes we want to see, it does not and can not replace our voices in the political process. We must make democracy more accessible for all people to truly make our democracy live up to its promise to be of by and for the people.
Topics for session:
In 2012 – Common Cause saw record levels of engagement by citizens in taking on these barriers to participation - people stood at the polls to make sure votes were cast; thousands volunteered to help us monitor elections, and people raised their voices with state ballot measures in Montana and Colorado calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.
Ideas for next steps include:
• poll worker service as action (physical action)
• Local ballot measures instructing Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics
• campus activism
• legislative campaigns (lobby days; town halls etc)
Discussion: how can we build and strengthen this democracy movement?