The For Our Freedom Amendment to reduce the corrupting influence of big money in politics is moving forward and gaining supporters in states across the country thanks to cross-partisan support, grassroots volunteer action, and collaborative partnerships involving American Promise and other democracy reform organizations.
U.S. election spending continues to spiral upward to record numbers, climbing to $14 billion for the 2020 federal election and hitting close to $500 million in individual U.S. Senate races such as the 2021 election in Georgia. These billions of dollars overwhelm the voice of average Americans, leading to a political system that favors the wealthy few, rather than one where every voice counts — upending the foundational principles on which our nation was founded.
In the face of these threats to our representative government, the For Our Freedom Amendment to reduce the corrupting influence of big money in politics is rapidly gaining momentum in states across the country, thanks to cross-partisan support, grassroots volunteer action, and collaborative partnerships.
Today, just a few years into the campaign for the amendment, the escalating impacts of citizen volunteers are making themselves clear, as daily work builds to statewide action and eventually legislation. When the For our Freedom amendment passes, it will be the result of the sustained grassroots efforts of millions of Americans coming together for action — much like every amendment over the past 200 years of our nation’s history.
And much like other amendment periods in history, amid seemingly overwhelming division and dysfunction, the American people are coming together to ensure a democracy in which we the people — not big money, not corporations, not unions, not special interests — govern ourselves.
Massachusetts: From Signature-Gathering to Legislative Action
The recent progress in Massachusetts is a perfect example of the amplification effect that is made possible when citizens work together. Recently, amendment advocates testified during a legislative committee hearing on two bills that would fight political corruption and ensure a political voice for all citizens. The online hearing of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs included testimony on:
- H3657: An Act to continue the voter-created Massachusetts Citizens Commission concerning a constitutional amendment to secure government of the people.
- H3658 / S.2402: Resolutions for a U.S. constitutional amendment and a limited amendment proposing convention.
American Promise President Jeff Clements said in written testimony that the bills were necessary to continue progress of the Citizens Commission, which was approved in 2018 by 71% of Massachusetts voters, to advance the constitutional amendment and protect the voice and representation of all Americans. Clements is among the 15 publicly appointed volunteer members of the Citizens Commission, which has heard the testimony of Massachusetts citizens in every region of the Commonwealth and issued its most recent report in August 2020.
“The crisis of unaccountable, highly concentrated election money is rapidly compounding distrusted, divisive, and dysfunctional elections and government; at the same time, the constitutional amendment that is the subject of this legislation has deep support across the country, is making significant progress, and has the potential to both unify the country and renew Americans’ faith in republican self-government,” Clements said.
The 2018 vote on the Citizens Commission was the product of a grassroots ballot initiative that involved hundreds of volunteers who gathered 140,000 signatures from people across Massachusetts. The initiative passed with support from nearly 2 million Massachusetts voters.
More than 20 states have joined Massachusetts in demanding that Congress take action on the amendment and return it to the states for ratification. This includes grassroots, cross-partisan initiatives from Maine to Alaska fueled by citizens seeking to restore their political voice and limit the influence of money in U.S. elections, with support from American Promise and other partner organizations.
Maine: Ending Foreign Election Influence and Corruption
Last year in Maine, American Promise’s Maine chapter launched the cross-partisan, grassroots Stand with Maine campaign, driving thousands of petition signers and forcing the candidates in the $200 million U.S. Senate race to address the issue. Now American Promise is helping to lead thousands of Mainers in the Protect Maine Elections groundbreaking citizens’ initiative to eliminate foreign influence and corruption in Maine elections. Volunteers are working throughout the state to collect signatures for the ballot initiative.
Virginia: The 22nd State to Pass Amendment Legislation
In Virginia, citizen leaders advocated and won support for legislation supporting efforts for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would set reasonable limits on raising and spending of money to influence elections. In early 2021 Virginia became the 22nd state to pass such legislation. The Virginia Chapter of American Promise, partner organization Take Back Our Republic, and citizens of all backgrounds worked across the commonwealth and party lines to build bipartisan consensus and uphold Virginia’s founding principles of free speech and independence.
Alaska: Citizen-Led Ballot Initiative Gets Statewide Support
In Alaska, over 50% of Alaska voters said “yes” to becoming the 21st state calling for a constitutional amendment to enable limits on big money in politics and protect their voice and self-government. Approved in November 2020 with more than 171,000 votes, Ballot Measure 2 will reduce partisanship, end the secret influence of dark money, create a single unified primary open to all voters, and institute ranked-choice voting. Ballot Measure 2 was a volunteer-powered initiative supported by American Promise and other democracy reform organizations.
Across the Nation: Citizens Driving Action
American Promise citizen volunteers continue their cross-partisan advocacy for the amendment in other states, including:
- Pennsylvania, where American Promise launched its Stand With Pennsylvania campaign on Constitution Day 2021 to bring people together to take on the common foe of corruption.
- Wisconsin, where members of the Green Bay business community gathered in 2021 to learn more about the cross-partisan, citizen-powered movement to reduce the influence of wealthy donors and the corruptive force of foreign money in U.S. politics.
- Wyoming, where citizen volunteers with Wyoming Promise are working with others across the state to restore the voices of Wyomingites.
- Minnesota, where American Promise Minnesota volunteers and supporters participated in a weekend of tabling and engagement at the Wright County Fairgrounds.
- Ohio, where volunteers in Cincinnati, Columbus, Port Clinton, and around the state signed up numerous candidates to the American Promise candidate pledge, and now are engaging with the business and civic community to help end pay-to-play corruption.