, we are excited for what our movement for the 28th Amendment will accomplish in the year ahead.
2020 will no doubt be a pivotal year for our nation. This year marks 10 years since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision doubled down on a long trajectory empowering the use of amassed wealth to influence our political system, and since that time we’ve seen its disastrous consequences at full tilt. With the upcoming presidential election—on track to be the most expensive in history—these consequences will be in the spotlight as Americans focus on the political landscape and how it affects their daily lives.
In a bipartisan survey, Americans recently named political corruption the No. 1 issue facing our nation. The harms wrought by unlimited money in our political system are well-understood by Americans across the political spectrum and across the country. We understand that no matter what side of the aisle we are on or what candidates we support, fixing our broken political system is the most important task we as Americans face.
The good news is that citizens from all walks of life are coming together around a historic solution in the 28th Amendment. Together we can unite against the narrative of intractable division and further the movement to win the 28th Amendment and political representation for every American—not only the wealthiest.
Here are a few of our biggest goals for the upcoming year.
Growing Grassroots Support to Pass the Amendment
Throughout American history, citizen action has been the force that has made meaningful, lasting change. This is especially true when it comes to the history of constitutional amendments. When citizens in our nation have sought to expand political rights—such as voting rights for women, African Americans, and Americans under age 18—the amendment process has been the vehicle. When we pass the 28th Amendment to get big money out of politics, it will be because citizens across the country stood up and demanded that politicians work for their constituents, not their big money donors.
Activating a citizen-led, grassroots network takes coordination. Through American Promise Associations (APAs) across the country, citizen leaders have raised awareness, built cross-partisan coalitions, gotten Candidate Pledges from candidates for offices at every level of government, and worked with local and state elected officials to pass resolutions calling on Congress to pass the 28th Amendment. Thanks to these efforts, 20 states have passed such resolutions—more than half of the 38 states needed to ratify an amendment. In 2019, we doubled the number of APAs across America; in 2020, we plan to double the number of APAs yet again, with a special focus in states who have yet to call for the amendment and those with key Senate seats and Congressional districts. We are committed to providing the needed resources to citizen leaders stepping up to make government of, by, and for the people a reality.
Deepening Cross-Partisan Support in Congress
Our organization focuses on bridging partisan division to work on a constitutional amendment that has widespread popularity among Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Our American Promise Advisory Council members include conservatives like former Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Alan Simpson (R-WY), progressives like former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner and Democratic presidential nominee Mike Dukakis, and individuals whose beliefs land everywhere in between. Our grassroots supporters also represent a variety of political ideologies, but all of them agree that we need this amendment.
We are working to mirror that support in Congress, meeting with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and asking them to work across the aisle on this critical issue. On Citizen Lobby Day, American Promise citizen leaders had more than 120 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff.
28th Amendment legislation was introduced in 2019 with bipartisan support, by Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL), John Katko (R-NY), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).
In 2020, we will work to elevate the voices of key constituents and invite more Republican lawmakers to the table to take ownership of amendment legislation that addresses their constituents’ concerns.
Expanding Our American Promise Candidate Pledge Campaign
Through the American Promise Candidate Pledge, candidates to elected office at every level of government commit to support and advance the amendment if elected. Since 2018, we have secured pledges from more than 250 candidates running for all levels of government. The pledge has proven effective at holding elected officials accountable for helping fix the pay-to-play political system—12 of these candidates were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, and all of them have now co-sponsored 28th Amendment legislation.
The Pledge also gained the national spotlight in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential campaign. As of now, 13 current and former 2020 presidential candidates have signed our American Promise Candidate Pledge, including democrats Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren, and Republican Bill Weld. The amendment has been mentioned on stage during the Democratic primary debates. While presidents do not play a direct role in passing a constitutional amendment, support from the nation’s chief executive can raise the profile of the amendment and make it a priority for Congress.
We aim to ask every presidential candidate to sign the pledge, and through our ever-expanding network of citizen leaders, aim to get 2,000 candidates for offices at every level to sign the pledge in 2020.
Engaging Business Leaders to End Pay-to-Play Politics
The vast majority of businesses do not benefit from our current pay-to-play political system, which has allowed a limited number of the wealthiest companies in our nation to hoard political influence. Small businesses make up 98% of U.S. employers, and they do not have the budget to lobby Congress or contribute to Super PACs. This system reduces competition in the marketplace by giving huge corporations a greater say in policymaking, allowing them to skew the rules in their favor.
The 28th Amendment would help reinvigorate competition and innovation in the marketplace by breaking the stranglehold large corporations have on Congress. To enable business leaders to share their concerns as part of our movement, we have created Business for American Promise (BAP). BAP invites business leaders to join in to advance policies that will dismantle the pay-to-play system. BAP is also growing a network of local chapters that bring together business leaders to take local actions advancing the 28th Amendment and recruiting other business leaders to the cause. With initial chapters established in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston, we hope to grow our network to 10 BAP chapters by the end of 2020.
Bringing Young Americans into the Movement
At our 2019 National Citizen Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., concerned college students from across the nation helped launch the Cause of Our Time program, committing to join the movement to end the domination of big money in our political system. We are reaching out to young Americans across the nation and asking them to join our movement, bringing their energy and passion to create a better future to the issue of big money in politics, which skews their representation and silences their voices in our political system. By the end of 2020, we hope to have 10,000 young Americans sign the Statement of Principle.