How Our State-by-State Strategy Will Work to Pass the 28th Amendment
The citizen-led, grassroots movement to pass the 28th Amendment is based in strategy that has driven past amendments to succeed. Learn how local action by citizens across the nation will lead to the ultimate passage of the amendment.
Americans are fed up with a political system that favors wealthy special interests, a system built upon disastrous Supreme Court cases including Citizens United and several others. At American Promise, we are channeling that energy into efforts to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the same method our citizenry has used to correct past terrible Supreme Court decisions (such as upholding slavery and denying women’s right to vote) throughout our nation’s history.
Our state-by-state strategy to pass the amendment is based on the success of other constitutional amendments. By building grassroots support across the nation, citizens become activated to make local change that grows statewide support and pressures Congress to take action. This strategy is not unique—it has been used successfully in the past. Take, for example, the 17th Amendment, which established the direct election of U.S. Senators.
In the early 1900s, following reports of corrupt senate appointment practices in the late 19th century, citizens began demanding more control over who represented their states in Congress. Oregon spearheaded a system that allowed citizens to vote for senate appointments and bound the state legislature to act accordingly, in effect establishing a popular vote for senators. More than half of the states began to implement programs similar to the so-called “Oregon System,” placing growing pressure on Congress to appease the energized citizenry.
In 1912, after 27 states called for a convention to propose the amendment and the U.S. House sent two proposals to the Senate, the 17th Amendment passed through Congress. Less than a year later, the amendment was ratified by 36 states, meeting the required number at the time as Alaska and Hawaii had not yet become states. Here’s how we plan to use a similar method to pass the 28th Amendment and end the domination of big money in our political system.
- Build Local Support: Citizen-led action in communities across our nation helps raise awareness of the amendment. When citizens learn about the movement to get big money out of politics, they overwhelmingly support it. Recent surveys show a significant cross-partisan majority of Americans support such an amendment, including 66% of Republicans, 85% of Democrats and 70% of independents.
- Pass Local Resolutions: Citizens are effective at passing local resolutions in their own towns, cities and counties. So far, more than 800 towns and counties have called on Congress to pass the amendment and send it to the states for ratification. Our local American Promise Associations (APA) are bringing citizens together and meeting with their local government officials to advance these resolutions.
- Build State Support: As cities, towns and counties pass resolutions, state elected officials begin to see the widespread support across their state. APA members meet with state legislators to discuss the amendment, ask them to sign the American Promise Candidate Pledge, and ask them to bring a state resolution to the floor of the statehouse. Read how American Promise citizen leaders in New Mexico recently built local resolutions into statewide support for amendment.
- Pass State Resolutions and Win Ballot Initiatives: So far 20 states have called on Congress to pass the amendment (more than half the 38 we need to ratify an amendment), and five states have called for a convention on the issue. American Promise citizen leaders in many other states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Ohio, are working to pass state resolutions, as well. In these states, our APAs are mobilizing and having critical meetings with state officials. See what’s happening in your state.
- Build National Support: With citizens taking action to advance the 28th Amendment in a majority of states, the campaign finance reform movement has received critical media attention and has been elevated on the national stage—in major publications and in recent presidential debates. American Promise broadcasts stories and wins from the movement and rallies citizen leaders each year at the National Citizen Leadership Conference to collaborate on effective strategies to advance the amendment.
- Convince Congress to Act: As the grassroots movement grows, pressure mounts on Congress to take action. American Promise staff and volunteers take that pressure and build relationships with Congresspersons on both sides of the aisle, to create a path forward to the 290 House and 67 Senate votes needed. Right now, 28th Amendment legislation has more than 200 congressional co-sponsors, many of whom signed the American Promise Candidate Pledge and were encouraged to support the legislation by constituents working with local APAs. As more states call for the amendment and push the total closer to the symbolic 38-state mark required for ratification, more members of Congress are expected to sign on.
We are confident that our citizen-led movement will succeed. We are already seeing action on the national stage, as the amendment has been reintroduced in both chambers of Congress. As energy builds within the democracy reform movement, big achievements are on the horizon. Get involved to help us reclaim power for all Americans.