Are Americans ready for great big reforms that renew democracy?
Americans keep telling us they want real reform with local and state resolutions—more than 600 so far—calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the US Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling and restore the essential premises that money is not speech, corporations are not people and citizens and their elected representatives have a right to organize elections where votes matter more than dollars. On Tuesday, the city of Kent, Ohio, joined the list, giving 64 percent support to a resolution that declares “1. Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with Constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not equivalent to speech, and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending does not equate to limiting political speech.” To emphasize their point, Kent voters mandated the establishment of an annual Democracy Day to focus attention on the need to let the will of the people—as opposed to big money—define the direction of government.
Americans keep telling us they want real reform with grassroots organizing, petitioning and marching on behalf of voting rights that—despite the ongoing assault by right-wing politicians and the US Supreme Court on Voting Rights Act protections—has yielded tremendous victories such as the groundbreaking Oregon and California automatic voter registration laws.
And Americans told us a lot on Tuesday by backing bold new responses to a broken politics.
• In Ohio, 71 percent of voters backed Issue 1, a constitutional amendment to ban partisan gerrymandering and establish a bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw legislative district lines that promote real competition. The vote was so overwhelming that backers now plan to take on an even bigger target: the gerrymandering of congressional seats. “Today’s win was an important first step, but it only got us halfway there,” says League of Women Voters of Ohio executive director Carrie Davis. “We need to take these new anti-gerrymandering rules that Issue 1 applied to the General Assembly and extend them to congressional districts, which are even more gerrymandered.”