American Promise President Jeff Clements shared the motivations behind campaign finance reform—and why the 28th Amendment has overwhelming support among Americans—during a recent FOMO Sapiens podcast episode.
The podcast, presented by the Harvard Business Review and hosted by venture capitalist and author Patrick McGinnis, highlights leaders who overcome FOMO (a phrase McGinnis coined that refers to the “fear of missing out”) and choose what they want in work and life. For Clements, that decision involved a growing realization during his work as an attorney of the corruptive effects of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
“As long as we can’t have reasonable limits on money and how it’s used in elections, and how it corrupts the process, nobody believes that they’re actually being treated as equal citizens in a republic,” Clements says.
That realization eventually led to the launch of American Promise to help people across the country advance the 28th Amendment through grassroots advocacy.
“Citizens United created a big constitutional issue. The beauty of a constitutional amendment campaign is it invites Americans into the process to decide ‘What do we believe? What do we think the Constitution means?’” Clements says. “And when we do that, we usually get it right. We decide yes, women should vote. We should end slavery and allow equal protection of the laws. Those are all amendments.”
Most Americans think we should have reasonable limits on how money is used in elections, Clements notes, because they realize the system no longer represents them.
“We’re solving the problem of campaign finance and how money corrupts the system. But the much bigger, systemic answer … is that we’re solving the age-old problem in America: Do we really believe that we’re all created equal and can govern effectively together? That’s our big mission, our big goal. We think we really have to lock it into the Constitution.”
Much of the $60 billion spent on federal and state elections over the last decade comes from outside groups rather than campaigns, he says, a result of the Citizens United ruling that opened the door to unlimited independent election spending and the emergence of Super PACs and dark money.
The 28th Amendment is well on its way to ratification by the goal date of July 4, 2026, Clements says, noting that 20 states have passed resolutions calling for the amendment. Support also is growing in Congress and in communities across the country.
“American Promise has developed a model to empower Americans to get involved and help move it forward,” Clements says.