By Dr. Benjamin Chavis
The growing Occupy the Dream movement for economic equality and empowerment emerging across the United States has correctly determined that one of its top priorities is to support fervently the passage of a Constitutional Amendment to make all federal elections publicly financed. Getting corporate money out of politics will stop and prevent the fatal lynching of our democracy.
The Constitutional Amendment will be effective in the expanding national campaign to confront income inequality and economic injustice that is a direct result of the cruel manipulation of the political process by the greed and avarice of the 1 percent.
Democracy in the United States especially from the experience and perspective of the African American community has always been on the one hand a reflection on the history of how Black people in America have had to struggle to get the right to vote, and on the other hand there has always been a crucial need to focus on the contemporary challenges and opportunities to fulfill the American dream of a quality life, equal liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and economic empowerment.
But the truth is that this is not just a matter of urgent concern for Black people alone. If democracy is not for all, then it is really not a democracy. Economic discrimination and inequality is just as wrong and devastating as racial discrimination and inequality. That is why the valiant sacrifices and struggles of African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, Native Americans and others to overcome the debilitating realities and consequences of racial and social injustice have also inured transformative benefits to all Americans across the lines of race, class and ethnicity.
There is a clear correlation between the rise in poverty, income inequality and the bastardization of American democracy by the 1 percent. The systematic denial of the democratic right to equal economic opportunity has already consigned millions of Americans to the severe hardships of unemployment, housing foreclosures, inadequate health care, cynicism, and massive hopelessness. For far too many Black Americans and Latino Americans, the money-controlled political system that aids and abets the hijacking of democracy in the United States has also led to the apartheid-like disproportionate incarceration of men, women and juveniles across the nation.
Thus the priority need for the Constitutional Amendment on this issue cannot be overstated. American democracy is now in serious jeopardy from the political abuse and neglect of the economic interests of the 99 percent by the percent who disproportionately control the wealth of the nation. Too many of our elected officials are brought out and paid off to do the regressive bidding of their financial masters.
Democracy is being undermined more and more each day as a result of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission two years ago. Since that backward 5-4 decision, corporations have been permitted to use their money to pay for the unlimited broadcasting of game-changing political advertisements that determine the defeat or election of candidates for the office of the President, members of Congress and other elections.
The ‘conservative’ Supreme Court cancelled a 63-year ban on the use of direct corporate money in federal elections. That is exactly why we have to free the life and future of American democracy from the despicable hands of the 1 percent hangmen’s noose by passing the following Constitutional Amendment:
- Section1. All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed o abridge the freedom of the press
- Section 2. The Congress shall, by statue, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Section.
- Section 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
- Section 4. This article shall be inoperative unless it is ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in several States, as provided by the Constitution.
Members of Congress, including Dennis J. Kucinich, Keith M. Ellison and Jesse L. Jackson Jr and many others, are in the process of affirming their sponsorship and support of this important Constitutional Amendment. Let your member of Congress know that you support the legislation.
Our call to action is for you join us in raising consciousness about this legislative ‘solution’ that will require a strong grassroots movement in every state. Occupy the Dream, www.occupythedream.org, is mobilizing across the country to support the Constitutional Amendment. Let’s work to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of economic equality for all. Let’s stop the lynching of American democracy.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is President of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) and of Education Online Services Corporation, as well as the National Director of Occupy the Dream.