Citizen Leaders Share Their Inspiration
Hear from a few of our passionate citizen leaders on the reasons they stay in the fight for the 28th Amendment day after day.
Our movement is driven by citizen leaders across the nation, who are putting in time, energy, and hope toward the goal of passing a 28th Amendment to limit big money in politics. While we’ve achieved huge successes in only a few years, the going isn’t always easy. Like so many before who have worked to achieve important changes in our country, these patriots won’t give up easily. At the 2019 National Citizen Leadership Conference, three of our American Promise Association leaders share why they keep going day after day, and why they are more hopeful than ever that we will achieve our goal.
Ellen Greene Bush: A Lot Can Happen in One Year
“When I spoke at this conference last year, I came by myself as a representative of the only American Promise group in my state of Ohio. This year I am joined by other citizen leaders, and we have four active chapters in Ohio working hard to raise awareness of the destructiveness of unlimited and hidden money in our elections and policy-making. A lot can happen in a year!
Our approach in a hyper-majority Republican state house is to develop relationships with not-so-moderate lawmakers with whom we probably disagree on most other issues. After meeting with all of the offices of our Republican leadership, we found that ‘transparency’ is a goal that most will agree with.
Cross-partisan work is challenging, and we don’t know if our persistence will result in our becoming the 21st state to pass a resolution—but we won’t give up trying.
I am Ellen Greene Bush, citizen leader of the Port Clinton Ohio American Promise Association, and proud to be working with the other Ohio groups—Columbus, Northeast Ohio, and Cincinnati to ‘get money out.'”
Heather Santos: Rock That Boat!
“When I was young and I saw things at school that I didn’t agree with, I spoke to my father about it. He said, ‘Don’t rock the boat.’ After school, I went to work. Again, I saw things I didn’t agree with. I spoke to my father about it. He said, ‘Don’t rock the boat.’ As I got older, I looked around and saw so many issues that I felt passionately about. Issues that need fixing—like climate change, health care, and gun control to name a few. I didn’t know what to do.
Then I met Laura Knipmeyer, a woman that spoke at last year’s National Citizen Leadership Conference. She introduced me to American Promise. I realized all these issues that I care about couldn’t be addressed because of big money in politics. Large corporations have their thumbs on the scale. This work became my new mission.
Once again I went to speak to my father to tell him about it. He said, ‘Go for it, kid!’ So I say to all of you: Make waves, rock the boat, and go for it. My name is Heather Santos. I am the leader of the New Jersey Highlands American Promise Association.”
Vicki Barnes: Republican Support is Out There
“When I gave my testimonial at the last conference, I was taken aback because the lights up here are bright and I could not see anyone’s faces. But knowing you were out there was reassuring.
The Minnesota State Legislature this biennium mirrors that of the U.S. Congress. The 2018 election flipped our House giving Democrats the majority, while the Republicans in our State Senate retain their slight majority. Given that we figured the House would vote to pass our state resolution calling for the 28th Amendment, we decided to use the first session this year to see how our Republican senators felt about the issue. We were able to meet with several state Republican senators, and a few of those are worth mentioning.
The first one said, ‘You don’t have to tell me about money in politics. I go to the grocery store. I hear about it all the time.’ He said he would talk to a few people and get back in touch with us the next day.
The second one said, ‘I don’t think this resolution goes far enough. I think only individuals should be able to donate to campaigns, and only in the elections where they are eligible to vote.’ He said he would contact the author of the bill and put his name on it.
Nothing happened with either of these two senators. We tried to follow up by phone, email, and in person until finally their beleaguered aids said the senator would not co-author the bill and no, they did not know why.
A third senator had actually authored a bill with the WolfPAC resolution, a call for a constitutional convention to pass the 28th Amendment. Then he pulled his name off of it. When we asked why, he said that he’d had numerous phone calls and was told, ‘You’re a nobody. Shut the hell up and get in line.’ So, basically, the state’s Republican leadership would not allow any participation.
The moral of this story? Please remember that even though you may not be able to see their faces, Republican support is out there. And some time in the not too distant future, those lawmakers will find the courage to walk beside us as we work to achieve the American Promise of fair and equal representation for us all.”