By Peg Ludtke
In 2013 Vicki Barnes became a grandmother. Like any other grandparent, she wants her grandson to grow up in a healthy democracy, one that is equitable and just. But Barnes realized that she can’t sit idle and let unlimited dark money flow into our government. That is not a democracy. That is corruption.
Vicki Barnes, the Minnesota state coordinator for American Promise, spoke to SCVANOW members on Feb. 10 at our full membership meeting. American Promise is a national organization focused on passing the 28th Amendment, a bipartisan effort to ensure that We the People – not big money, not unions, not corporations – govern the United States.
We all know billions of dollars are spent on campaigns and most of it comes from corporate PAC money or the wealthiest donors. Barnes used the example of the midterm election where nearly $7 million was spent on negative ads against just one Minnesota candidate. The bottom line across the country — big money is taking over our elections and our legislation.
American Promise is about taking that back and giving the power back to the people. How do we do it? Start by electing candidates who support the 28th Amendment and convince those already in office to make this amendment part of our Constitution.
This really is a “people over party” matter. Eighty percent of citizens, both Democrat and Republican, favor getting dark money out of our democracy. Now we just need to get more states on board. So far, 19 states are on board with getting Congress to pass the 28th Amendment. Barnes is hoping that, in Minnesota, a bill written by Minnesota Senator John Marty (DFL – SD66) will make Minnesota one of the next states to follow suit. We need 34 states before Congress will act.
We can start on a local level to get our state involved. Washington County has support for American Promise, along with much of the rest of the state.
Barnes is convinced that this is an easy subject to talk about face-to-face with our representatives. Everyone knows we must regulate our campaign spending because it is the only way we can truly have a democracy by and for the people and not just the wealthy.
“We the People” just have to keep pushing Congress to act. Barnes’ personal goal is to have the 28th Amendment in place, and our Democracy back in the hands of the people, by the time her grandson is in middle school. He’s five. Maybe we can all make it happen while he’s still in elementary school.
To take action and find out more about how each of us can help to win back our democracy, here is the American Promise website at www.americanpromise.net .