A Grassroots Leader Builds Enthusiasm in Ohio
A grassroots political organizer inspired to action by the growing economic inequality between the wealthiest and poorest Americans, Richard Asimus is an American Promise citizen leader working to restore the people power in our democracy.
Richard Asimus understands the corrupting role of money in politics. “Big money dramatically affects and even determines elections, influence on political leaders through lobbying, and manipulation of media toward outcomes that wealthy individuals and corporations desire,” he says. In response, Richard organized an American Promise Association in his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier this year, stepping up to become a leader in the national movement to curb the undue influence of big money in politics.
Richard realized that to build a democracy based on citizens’ rights, he had to exercise his own.
He started taking action on the state level, helping out with an end-gerrymandering movement and a congressional candidate’s campaign. Soon after, while volunteering for Move to Amend, an organization aimed at curbing corporate political power via a constitutional amendment, Richard discovered the opportunities for citizen leadership at American Promise.
At first, he aimed to get someone else to start an American Promise chapter near him—but soon realized the role was meant for him. “I encouraged others to take the lead to begin an AP chapter in Cincinnati,” Richard says. “When no one stepped forward, I took the responsibility to do so.”
Today, as the founder and leader of the Cincinnati APA, Richard is amplifying Ohio’s call for a 28th Amendment to get big money out of politics. He hopes others will take inspiration in joining the movement to assert political equality for all citizens, regardless of wealth.
Building Up & Out
Richard navigated his new frontier of citizen leadership with support from American Promise State Manager Azor Cole. The American Promise team set the Cincinnati APA in the right direction with a chapter launch and a four-part training, attracting 40 members within the first months of activity.
The Cincinnati APA continues to attract new members drawn to the group’s clear purpose and meaningful meetings, as Richard carves a path for the growing coalition to set and meet goals on the local level. The Cincinnati APA has educated its congressional representative on its goals, and has also advocated for state legislation aimed at democracy reforms.
Richard says seeing other citizens get involved and become leaders of team efforts have been some of his most rewarding experiences as a new APA leader. This kind of teamwork was his inspiration to start the group, and provides the motivation to keep going.
While 94 percent of Americans agree that the undue influence of wealthy donors contributes to political dysfunction, proponents of democracy reform still struggle to maneuver in a highly polarized political climate. Richard hopes to overcome this divisiveness by focusing on cross-partisan collaboration and incorporating his leadership strategies with those of other American Promise organizers in Ohio. He sees getting big money out of politics as an American issue, not just a partisan one.
“I am dedicated to changing our system to a bold new democracy…of, by and for the people,” Richard says.