Until Our Representatives
Posted: 4/30/2012 | Read More | Post Comment (26)

Until our representatives are paid only by the voter we can expect representation by special-interest and dysfunctional representative democracy. We at Renew Democracy feel that currently our legislators are not motivated correctly for our representational democracy to function. We feel crucial reform is necessary to restore the primacy of the American voter in the political process. We feel that unless our representatives are motivated to represent only the voters, our current broken system cannot be transformed. We need to take the steps to a small donor democracy.  . Our proposal would be a significant restructuring of the current motivation that present campaign "pay for play" creates in our representatives. The Renew Democracy Amendment proposes in part that "The right to contribute to political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual citizens." This strong statement alleviates concern about the status of any organization as it would no longer be able to contribute. No corporate money, no union money, no money from the Chamber of Commerce or Moveon.org.  The RDA would: Eliminate the huge advantage wealthy candidates have in our current political process by allowing only the amount of the individual donation from the candidate.. Eliminate political party funding of candidates and campaigns which would dramatically shrink the influence of the political parties on our legislators. End the Electoral College which is less democratic than one person one vote and is manipulated currently by state legislatures and could be used to disenfranchise presidential voters. Eliminate political party funding of candidates and campaigns which would dramatically shrink the influence of the political parties on our legislators. Create a federal guarantee of the right to vote in all elections for which the voters qualified. Create a constitutional framework for legislation regulating soft money and PACs. Set a limit for individual donations based on average disposable income. This limit would be the basis for contention however if the limit is set below a threshold that would create a quid pro quo for legislative action than any potential voter could be a maximum contributor if they were sufficiently motivated in the eyes of the legislator. We think Only the Voter Should Buy Politicians

 
Director Message
Posted: 3/14/2012 | Read More | Post Comment (0)

As the director of Renew Democracy, an advocacy group for a constitutional amendment to restore the primacy of the individual American voter in the political process, I would say that Dana is exactly correct. The groups that Dana mentions are certainly founded with the best of intent. There is however a basic fundamental flaw that these groups overlook and that they may not be able to overcome. They represent a particular constituency. For a constitutional amendment to be successful there must be a super majority of broad-based support. Polling data indicates that the super majority of support exists for a change in our political system as the vast majority of Americans view our system is broken and they feel that the influence of money in politics is the reason.

There is not a super majority of support however for public financing of campaigns. There is not a super majority of support for only restricting corporations and no other actors like Unions. There is also a broad realization with the public that it is not only a problem with special interest groups but that the basic formulation of our party system creates distortions in our democracy as the economic power of the two parties over the legislators increasingly grows. None of these groups would have the temerity to do anything that would impinge on the Democratic Party.  These groups are part of and are influenced by the Beltway. They have done, and are doing great work in educating the public in the need for change, and many of them are correct and advocating for a constitutional amendment. It is certainly the case that campaign finance laws do not have a constitutional basis currently. It is also the case that advocating for a constitutional amendment with a policy prescription that is not universally acceptable is myopic at best and in some cases has been simply a pander to a small but politically active portion of the public.

It is politically unfeasible to propose a constitutional amendment that would eliminate one parties economic base and leave the others untouched or strengthened. Both political parties rely primarily on individual donations and the Republicans receive fewer but larger. Both parties could well exist under a system that eliminated anything but individual donations. That is why in the proposed outline for a constitutional amendment we advocate "The right to contribute to political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual citizens." This powerful statement would eliminate contributions from all groups organizations and associations. No corporate money, and no union money. No money from the Chamber of Commerce, MoveOn.org, the National Rifle Association or the Sierra Club. It would also end the economic control over our legislators influenced by the political parties. This is a far broader and more powerful concept than any that are advocated currently by the groups Dana mentions. Since Renew Democracy is a small organization that has nothing to do with any other group, we can advocate truly for the American public. We don't need to pander to our constituency because we don't have one.

The proposal we advocate would end self financing by wealthy politicians, would eliminate the electoral college, would end concerns about "corporate personage" in a much more powerful way than is currently advocated by amendments that simply state "corporations are not people". Would provide for a constitutional basis for campaign finance laws regulating PACs and soft money, and would provide a federal guarantee of the right to vote in all pertinent elections.

Proposals to amend the Constitution that do not start by identifying what is politically feasible from actual polling data are ignoring reality. The RDA does not rely on public financing which is a concept the public is only lukewarm about at best. It is hard to excite people about the middle. The extremes are always more interesting and easier to fund raise on. In this case however the middle can be far more exciting and powerful as the extremes are blinded by their politics.

 
Contact Page
Posted: 3/10/2012 | Read More | Post Comment (1)

We recently had a question come in that was abosutlely fantastic and we wanted to share it with you.

 

Does your ammendment extend the limit to unions as well? If yes, I am all for it. If no, you are just wolves dressed in sheeps clothing.

Why stop at contributions? Where is the ban on lobbying? From my pespective, this is just as big of a cancer as the financing issue.

 

Our Reply

 

Thank you for your interest in the Renew Democracy Amendment. In section 2 the amendment states: The right to contribute to political campaigns and political parties is held solely by individual citizens” .  This means in plain and simple terms that all groups and organizations are excluded from contributions to political campaigns and political parties. This will also mean that political parties cannot contribute to politicians either. This will dramatically reduce the control over our legislators that the parties currently have. No corporate money, no union money, no money from the Sierra Club, MoveOn.org, the NRA or the AARP.

 

In my opinion however that does not mean these organizations do not have a legitimate right to lobby on their behalf, they just don't get to pay our representatives to do what they want contrary to the best interests of their constituents. If lobbyists can't hand over money and all they can do is promise to try and rally the individual voters, then the power of the lobbyist is broken. What makes the lobbyist able to distort our democracy is the money that they can hand out.

 

If I may be so bold, we at Renew Democracy are neither sheep nor wolves but big white headed bald eagles with a political party in each talon and we are squeezing them equally. If Renew Democracy becomes successful in getting the message out to the American public we will have plenty of enemies on both sides. Any group whose existence depends on influencing legislation will see us as a mortal threat. Are you an American eagle too?  We need your support.

 
Montana Stands Tall
Posted: 2/25/2012 | Read More | Post Comment (0)

 
Josh Gerstein
Posted: 2/13/2012 | Read More | Post Comment (0)

This is a great article from Josh Gerstein

We had to share it with you

Just CLICK HERE to read it

 
Pledge to Support Efforts to End Corporate and Non-Constituency Financing of Elections and Lobbying
Posted: 10/25/2011 | Read More | Post Comment (0)

 

Pledge to Support Efforts to End Corporate and Non-Constituency  Financing of Elections and Lobbying

 

 

 

I _________________________ a candidate for the office of ______________________ in the state of __________________ , do hereby vow (swear?) to give my full support to efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit campaign contributors to only the constituency to the office that I am seeking. 

 

 

 

I vow to also support efforts to amend that contributors’ donations shall be limited to $_____.00 per candidate per election and a like amount per political party per election.

 

 

 

I vow that if such amendment is not proposed by my fellow congressmen or senators that I will sponsor the introduction.  If I am on the committee charged with this proposal I vow to speak for it and vote to move it forward for a full vote.  I also vow that if the amendment comes for a full vote that I will vote it on for the people to decide upon its ratification.

 

 

 

Signed

 

 

 

Witnessed

 

 
Request from Your Constituency
Posted: 10/25/2011 | Read More | Post Comment (0)

 

Request from Your Constituency

 

 

 

(Senator or Representative) [____________] We have gathered here as a delegation of concerned citizens in the interest of the concept of one person, one vote and aggrieved by the current state of one dollar, one vote.  The situation in the United States of America has become very unfriendly to the common man and woman.  Jobs have been going away at a pace that exceeds the appearance of new jobs.  Our schools are under funded; our infrastructure is falling into disrepair; our police forces and fire departments have been stripped to levels that leave communities unsafe; young people are graduating from college with little hope for well paying jobs and debts that may never be paid; and people continue to lose their homes at a rate that has not been seen since the Great Depression.

 

 

 

Meanwhile our corporations have been making record profits while sending more and more jobs overseas to third world countries to avoid the costs of paying reasonable pay and providing employees’ benefits.

 

 

 

Our Supreme Court has devalued the American citizen to equal status with a mindless, soulless corporation and determined that the dollars they contribute in campaigns is equal to if not superior to “free speech”.

 

 

 

While we understand that under the current rules, you cannot get elected to represent us without receiving substantial corporate donations, we also understand that you cannot represent us after you have become beholden to corporations.

 

 

 

We are asking that you help us to unshackle you from these corporations by signing our pledge to introduce, endorse, work for and vote for the amendment to declare that corporations, foreign governments, non-residents and non-constituents are forbidden to contribute in our election system.  The amendment is to also include individual limitations to contributions and possibly a mechanism to institute government funding of campaigns.

 

 
Political Speech
Posted: 7/11/2011 | Read More | Post Comment (2)

 

The United States citizens are blessed with a concise and thoughtful constitution notable for its brevity and power. One incredibly enabling portion of our Constitution is the First Amendment. Currently in our political culture we are strengthened by our right to free speech.  It is difficult to remember that those words were composed at a time when women did not have the right to vote or express themselves politically, and the institution of slavery, prevalent at the time, was the ultimate denier of free speech. The First Amendment grants rights broadly defined and yet does not guarantee rights we have come to accept as universal or allow for any framework of limits to speech which we have come to accept in our political culture as necessary. In America we take it for granted for example that everyone who is qualified has the right to vote, and that of course only individuals hold that right. We know that we do not have the right to yell fire in a crowded building, nor do we have the right to publish slander or libel. We don't accept producers lying about their product or speech that can be construed as a threat to personal harm. None of these rights or limits has any constitutional basis in the First Amendment but have become an accepted foundation of legal precedents.

 A more difficult and tenuous understanding exists in American political culture with regards to the rights of political speech. As mentioned, it is a fundamental belief of all Americans that every qualified registered American citizen should have the right to an equal vote in pertinent elections. We all know that this right is only afforded to individuals, not other entities that are given the status of legal “persons”. What we really don't have a clear understanding of in our political culture is what forms of political speech there are and who has an inherent right to them.

 There are two types of political speech, direct and indirect. Direct political speech is direct actions an individual undertakes to facilitate the election of the candidate of their choice. The most pure form of direct political speech is voting. The other form of direct political speech is by campaign contribution where the amount of money or in kind donation has a direct effect on the ability of your candidate to conduct their campaign.

 Indirect political speech is all forms of political speech intended to affect the votes, contributions and ideas of others for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. Indirect political speech would of course include all types of media transmissions, campaign and negative advertising, and publications. When it comes to indirect political speech, loud voices, enabled by wealth or the economics of association can be influencing but not determining and for this reason need be allowed to the greatest extent. Our political culture currently understands that some limitations may be necessary to keep the strongest voices from drowning out the lesser in the political process. This is the basis for the current precedents in campaign finance laws as concerns PACs. Unfortunately again, there is no basis for the political speech restrictions in the Constitution.  Even though our current political culture realizes they are necessary to some extent, the basis on which those presidents lie is without a foundation. This is certainly the lesson of recent Supreme Court decision of Citizens United, and the American polity can only expect a further crumbling of precedents which threatens the opportunity for the indirect speech of the average voter to be heard in the marketplace of ideas surrounding political campaign.

 Even though it is not directly defined by the First Amendment, our political culture has a definite understanding of how the direct form of political speech called voting works. It is important to note that this right is not universally guaranteed by the Constitution. At the time the First Amendment was drafted it was the assumed political culture that women did not vote; only landowners in fact were voters. We have laws that allow us to vote but there is no constitutional guarantee to all qualified citizens of the right to vote.

 The other direct right of political speech, which we understand in our political culture is necessary to limit is the right to contribute to campaigns and political parties. Recently there has been a great deal discussion and controversy over the expanding position and speech of groups such as unions, corporations, political action committees, and other groups and associations to contribute and it is apparent that all limits all to campaign contributions and to those donations by groups and associations are tenuous at best and based upon current interpretation of precedent.  Again, the First Amendment gives us no guidance or basis for limitation on these direct political speech rights.

 

 
Posted: 7/8/2011 | Read More | Post Comment (4)
 
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