Making Government Work

American Promise’s National Citizen Leadership Conference Wants to End Big Money in Government

October 18, 2019
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American Promise’s National Citizen Leadership Conference Wants to End Big Money in Government
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Find out how you can join the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution and end limitless spending on our elections and in our government — once and for all.

We can have a government that fulfills its promise to represent “We the People.” But that’s not the government we have now — big money is getting in the way. 

Because of the pernicious influence of unchecked political spending, we have congressional representatives in Washington more beholden to the wealthy donors and special interest groups bankrolling their campaigns than to the actual people living in their home district. 

The result is fundamentally undemocratic: a government that doesn’t reflect the needs of its people, despite all promises and assurances to the contrary. It’s a mockery of the founding principles of our nation, and it has to stop.   

We the people aren’t fooled. A 2018 poll by Pew Research Center found that 77% of Americans believe there should be limits on spending in campaigns. 

There’s a nonprofit, grassroots movement to make limits on political campaign spending as American as apple pie. If you’re one of the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to fight back against the silencing effect of big money on government, you can join NationSwell in taking part.

From Saturday to Sunday, the National Citizen Leadership Conference (NCLC) will convene activists, scholars and concerned citizens together in one room to strategize how to take back the reins of our nation from the plutocratic few and give it back to the many through the ratification of a 28th Amendment. 

On Monday, following the conference, the group will take to Capitol Hill for Citizen Lobby Day, a day for citizens to meet with members of Congress. Event organizers will form teams to specifically discuss money in the political system and encourage representatives to support campaign funding restrictions. 

The conference is organized by American Promise, the nonprofit leading the efforts to restrict big spending. According to its mission statement, the group endeavors to “empower, inspire and organize Americans to win the 28th Amendment to the Constitution” by motivating Congress and statehouses to put reasonable limits on how candidates and their backers raise and spend money. A version of their bill in Congress has 200 cosponsors, but despite bipartisan support from voters, it faces an uncertain future.

Amending the United States Constitution is no easy task. There are two paths towards ratification. In one, the bill needs approval from a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, and is then passed to statehouses, where it will need three-fourths of the states to vote in favor of ratification. In the second path, two-thirds of the states call for a Constitutional Convention, where any proposed Constitutional amendment requires three-fourths of the states to vote to pass it. These are intentionally high bars set by our nation’s founders, and it will take a people-powered groundswell to convince representatives on both sides of the aisle that this amendment must pass. 

Fortunately for its proponents, such a movement is exactly what American Promise endeavors to galvanize through the NCLC.

NationSwell founder and CEO Greg Behrman, one of the event speakers, lauded the event as a major opportunity to address one of the key challenges our nation faces, and praised organizers for the innovative, unequivocal way they’ve risen to this challenge.

“One of the major challenges that our government has right now is its irresponsiveness to the will of the people, which has created a sense of distrust,” Behrman said. “At the root of that is the influence of money and special interests.”

He praised American Promise for the bold, creative way it has mobilized so many passionate citizens around ending unchecked spending’s chilling effect on democracy.

“[American Promise CEO and co-founder Jeff Clements’] work has the potential to restore a sense of effectiveness, fairness and trust in government politics,” Behrman said. “That, in turn, can help lead to better policy, to better citizenship, to making communities stronger and lives better — and finally enable us to be more forward-thinking and more effective in advancing the policies that people are really going to need now and in the future.”

“Jeff is an inspiring visionary leader, and we’re proud to have been able to support him through the NationSwell Council,” Behrman added. “He’s become a friend, and I’m so excited to have the chance to support him, and so excited to join the American Promise Advisory Council.”

Other speakers at the event include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) and Ibis Communications Founder and CEO MaryAnne Howland.

To find out more about how you can attend NCLC, call into Citizen Lobby Day or get involved with your state’s American Promise team, check out this resource.

More: You Probably Don’t Trust the Government. This Lab Plans to Fix That

NationSwell is a proud supporting sponsor of American Promise’s National Citizen Leadership Conference. Additional reporting was provided by the NationSwell team.

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