- Category: Voter-Focused Articles
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- Written by Farmer John
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The Voter Farmers Market is a BIG FAN of Annie Leonard and the Story of Stuff! Annie ends the video clip below with the observation that getting money out of our electoral process is "the first and most important step in making reall progress on all the issues that people care about most." We completely agree.
The Voter Farmers Market is inspired by the awareness that the lack of political process integrity in our current system is the single most significant obstacle that gets in the way of addressing all of the other issues that need attention (the deficit, health care, unemployment, social security, the environment, education, etc...). As such, a campaign to achieve political process integrity is the one cause that unites all Americans in a positive mission to save our democracy. Watch Annie's clip from her video, The Story of Citizens United v. FEC, and then read our commentary about where the Voter Farmers Market fits in to this movement to save American Democracy.
The idea of Constitutional Amendment and the idea of passing publicly funded election legislation through our current congress are both important strategies we need to pursue. But we think the Voter Farmers Market adds an essential additional strategy for saving our democracy that deserves prominent attention!
So far, a few things to remember that are huge contributions made by Annie's video are:
- Her video provides a focused examination of key instance in the long assault on the integrity of our political process by powerful forces seeking anti-democratic influence over our government and society: The role of the Supreme Court in according corporations the rights of people and its ramifications for our electoral process given that the Supreme Court has also held that giving money to political campaigns constitutes free speech.
- Her video recognizes that campaign contributions deprive our democracy of political process integrity and that this lack of political process integrity is a fundamental obstacle that must be overcome before we can make meaningful progress on any of the issues "people care most about."
- Her video offers two valuable strategies for saving our democracy: A constitutional amendment denying corporations the rights of people and passage of law through our current congress providing for publicly funded elections.
There are a few limitations to these important contributions to the movement to save our democracy that are worth noting for the sake of constantly improving the movement:
- The Supreme Court's decision in Citizen's United v. FEC is not the sole reason our political process lacks integrity. In this sense, the Constitutional Amendment strategy is reactive in that it seeks to undo harm that has been done by the Supreme Court. This is all well and good, but we can do so much more! We can be proactive! We can be so much more imaginative! That's why an important part of the Voter Farmers Market is it's think tank, which is devoted to proactively designing political process parameters that aren't just reactions to mistakes, but which are positive technological upgrades to optimize the integrity of our system and the quality of our discourse.
- Also, while a constitutional amendment must be pursued, and the Voter Farmers Market argues, must be pursued in tandem with an amendment strategy that more broadly envisions a system design with more sophisticated protections of its democratic integrity, it is important to remember that Annie's first example of a time in the past when we have achieved this ambitious goal is the Women's Suffrage Movement. The Women's Suffrage movement took 70 years to pass its amendment. The patience and perseverence required is no reason not to pursue this strategy, but we should seek to complement this strategy with other strategies that do not share this drawback.
- To her credit, Annie does complement her amendment strategy by focusing on current efforts to pass publicly funded elections legislation currently being pursued in Congress. However, this complementary strategy also has its limitations. Trusting our current politicians elected through our corrupt system with campaign donations to pass legislation fixing that corruption is a bit like asking the foxes guarding the hen house to pass anti-carnivore legislation to protect the hens! We might have to wait even longer for such legislation to become law than we will have to wait for ratification of a constitutional amendment.
The great thing about the Voter Farmers Market Pledge Movement is that it provides a vehicle for taking immediate, appropriate, effective action to the millions of Americans who are protesting, striking, complaining, upset, disillusions, dissatisfied and/or angry because our democracy has been rendered completely corrupt and dysfunctional by private funding of political campaigns. The Voter Farmers Market Pledge Movement invites the determined political energy awakening within the people to express itself through the fundamental acts of participation in our political process: voting and running for office.
People are getting involved and are finding the need for action of such a high priority that they are making time for it in their lives. What better way to make time for saving our democracy than by devoting ourselves as voters and candidates to acting with integrity by only voting for candidates that don't run campaigns dependent upon money, but who run based only on the ample opportunity for free, open discourse in our high tech communications world? What better way to make time for saving our democracy than by running for congress, regardless of the chances of success, by running a money-free, discourse-only campaign that will advance the importance and practical legitimacy of the Voter Farmers Market Pledge Movement?
This strategy is smart because it is infinitely sustainable (requiring next to no funding), practical (we have already begun recruiting candidates and voters using open media), incremental (growing stronger with each new voter, each new candidate, each new political victory), and internally consistent (it demands integrity in the basic political acts of voting and campaigning before expecting an amendment or a conversion of the corrupt to principled politics). As such, the Voter Farmers Market Pledge Movement is a key middle way, third strategy between the unlikely immediate ethical action of the participants in our corrupt system and the long term campaign for passage of a constitutional amendment. The more momentum the Voter Farmers Market Pledge Movement gathers, the more likely the other two strategies are likely to overcome their limitations and result in a timely, genuine solution.
These are exciting times. Many strategies are developing and many, many people are standing up for the health and wellbeing of their democratic society. We hope you will support all of these efforts and give them your best!