As a leader with the American Promise Knoxville Chapter, Chet Hunt has worked with his chapter to make the American Promise Candidate Pledge a focus during 2020—with three congressional candidates and 12 state and local candidates signing on. During a recent national call, Chet offered tips to help others get their local and state candidates to join the movement for the 28th Amendment.

Like others involved with American Promise, Chet believes in our nation’s promise but is dismayed by the current systemic dysfunction and political tenor due to the influence of money, which he says is “the root of many of our problems.” A Vietnam War veteran and retired city manager, Chet now is dedicating his time and skills to create a better future for his children and grandchildren by advancing a stronger democracy through the 28th Amendment. Below are edited excerpts from his comments during the call. 

A Focus on the Pledge

Our chapter started just two years ago in October, but we’ve been very active. And during this quarantine situation, I thought, well, what can we do that can be effective? We decided to embrace the pledge. It’s such an important thing to have candidates and elected officials speak out on this issue, and we make it public. We have a Facebook page that we post all this on, and of course the national database.

Highlighting Pledge Signers

I write letters to the editor and Op-Eds to recognize those who sign the pledge. I admire each one of them. When you talk about what gives you hope—that gives me hope. And it’s Republicans and Democrats and independents alike that are fed up to here. I don’t care how people vote. They have a right to vote as they choose. I just want their vote to count. I don’t want them to be drowned out by the big-money interests that are controlling things right now.

Motivation for the 28th Amendment

The relentless corporatization of our democracy is so disheartening. Corporations are channeling money into states for special interests and their own interest; many of those corporations have American names and we think they’re American corporations, and they’re not. So a lot of this money is not just coming from out of state, it’s coming from out of the country. The door to secret foreign dollars in U.S. elections remains wide open through secret contributions to ostensibly nonpolitical groups that run campaign ads that are assault ads without any disclosure of who the donors are.

How Citizens United Limits State Rights

The Supreme Court, in their activist decisions, took rights away from Montana. All of a sudden, this anonymous, dark money started pouring in to influence the election in Montana. And when Montana said, “Hey, we’re putting a stop to this. We’re going to find out the origins of this money,” it went all the way to the Supreme Court in Montana. But then they got overruled because of the Citizens United ruling. So the state’s rights were taken from them.

Unity Through the 28th Amendment 

We’re in real danger, and that motivates me to do this work. This is an issue I think everybody can get behind. It may be a unifying issue that helps our country because it’s a historical effort. And with everybody working together on this issue—because we have those common interests, it affects all of us—it may help heal a lot of wounds as we go forward in this work. So that drives me as well.

Finding Hope Through Volunteering 

When I leave an interaction talking about the 28th Amendment with someone, I’m renewed with hope, and I feel good about meeting them and about being an American. Whatever our ideologies are, they have this desire to live up to the creed of what America is supposed to be, what our Founding Fathers intended. Those rights are for humans, for natural persons, not creatures of government and legal entities that manipulate things.