Welcome and Happy Holidays
Recently, the leader of a large foundation said this about American Promise:
“I am really intrigued by American Promise’s pursuit of a Constitutional Amendment to enable regulation of election spending. They are getting great traction on a thorny problem that funders and NGOs have been running away from. In retrospect, this organization was a big false negative for my Foundation– we should have funded them several years ago, but alas did not because we felt the mountain of a Constitutional Amendment was too high. But these guys have a plan for climbing it, and it appears to be working!”
It’s true, and I am pleased to share this final quarterly update of 2023 with you. In these last three months of 2023 we:
- Reached our target to double revenues and expand our staff to build out our 50-state plan and mobilize millions of Americans;
- Won a record-breaking state ballot initiative win with our 86% Yes vote in Maine;
- Released state and national polling from our partner at Citizen Data confirming that more than 75% of Americans across the political spectrum support our constitutional amendment;
- Co-hosted a convening of over 1000 attendees at the American Democracy Summit in Los Angeles;
- Hired State Managers in four states, held “citizen lobby days” and meetings with state legislators in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maine, Arizona, and Utah, confirming cross-partisan support as more states vie to join the 22 states formally backing the For Our Freedom Amendment now;
- Opened our Washington D.C. office with the hire of Jim Dornan, our Director of Congressional Affairs, and met with members of Congress across the partisan spectrum;
- Released our Foreign Money in Politics report, available at https://americanpromise.net/the-problem-of-foreign-money-in-politics/ , which was covered by Politico and others;
- Submitted our Working Paper on the Constitutional Amendment to Revive Popular Sovereignty at the invitation of the American Bar Association Task Force on Democracy. Check out the Working Paper here and let us know what you think- https://americanpromise.net/aba-task-force-submission-a-constitutional-amendment-to-revive-self-government-in-america/
- Launched our new website: https://americanpromise.net;
- Approved our roadmap to victory 2024 budget, doubling again next year.
There’s more inside. I have never been more confident that we will win the For Our Freedom Amendment to fix what Americans agree is the number one threat to our democracy: unrestrained money and corruption in politics.
We could not do it without your good work, your faith in the American project of freedom and self-government, and your generous investment of heart, time and treasure. Thank you, and warmest wishes for the holidays and new year.
American Democracy Summit Recap
This Fall, we co-hosted 1,000 attendees at the American Democracy Summit in Los Angeles with America’s leading non-partisan reform organizations.
It was great to see so many of you in our Leadership Community at the American Promise pre-Summit Dinner!
In case you missed it, we prepared a video recap of the dinner below (unmute for sound):
Bringing Americans together across geographic, political and demographic differences is core to American Promise’s mission and our strategy to win. Our acclaimed National Citizen Leadership Conference does this each year in Washington D.C., and we do it regularly in American communities with our Freedom is Brewing events around the country.
American Promise staff and volunteer leaders were featured on four panels that unpacked the crisis of corruption and the For Our Freedom constitutional solution:
Watch the video recap of American Promise at American Democracy Summit (unmute for sound!):
American Promise Speaker Series
As part of our 2023 Speaker Series highlighting innovative leaders building a new vision of America for the next century, we spoke with author and award-winning social entrepreneur Shalyn Romney Garrett.
Shaylyn is the co-author of The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again. A century ago, Americans responded to a wave of corruption, injustice, war, pandemic, and political division and violence to ratify four constitutional amendments, pass lasting structural reform, and– perhaps most importantly– rebuild the moral and spiritual foundation of the country. Shaylyn shows how the approach of American Promise can help Americans do it again now.
You can catch up on the conversation in this recording here.
In December, we had another great conversation in our 2023 Speaker Series, featuring Trevor Potter, President of Campaign Legal Center, counsel to the late Senator John McCain, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and a member of the American Promise Advisory Council and this leadership community!
If you’d like to see a recording of the conversation, drop an email to Liz Harvey, our Development Director, at email@example.com.
New Polls Released
Three out of four Americans - Republicans, Democrats, Independents- back American Promise’s For Our Freedom Amendment!
American Promise worked with the nonpartisan firm Citizen Data to reach Americans around the country and in strategic states in a comprehensive polling project. The results are in: Most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, identify unregulated money in politics as a threat to American democracy. And more than 75% support the constitutional amendment as a solution.
Backing up these results, Pew Research found that over 80% of Republicans and Democrats believe that major donors to political campaigns have too much influence on Congressional decisions, and most Americans want election spending limits for individuals and organizations.
On November 7, Maine voters decided overwhelmingly in favor of the Protect Maine Elections/Yes on Question 2 initiative, with a resounding 86% victory for the campaign. This marks the widest margin of victory on a statewide ballot in Maine’s history. The new law shuts down foreign government spending in Maine’s elections and gives the State Ethics Commission a role in ensuring that members of Maine’s Congressional delegation help advance cross-partisan support for the For Our Freedom Amendment in Congress. More than 600 volunteers had nearly 100,000 conversations with voters, gathered signatures, went to the State House, did phone banking, and campaigned for the win.
Big news: We’re moving a cross-partisan resolution in the legislature calling on Congress to pass the For Our Freedom Amendment and return it to Pennsylvania and the states for ratification! The introduction of the measure follows American Promise’s grassroots and business network advocacy, an endorsement from the highly respected Committee of 70, and is backed by Republican sponsors in the Senate and Democratic sponsors in the House.
Adding to the momentum, we just hired Matt Powell as our Pennsylvania State Manager. Matt joins us from the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and previous service as Senior Legislative Assistant with Congressman Tom Marino in Washington.
In Wisconsin, American Promise volunteers held over a dozen meetings with state lawmakers in Madison where we are already seeing momentum. We also have met with several prominent Wisconsin business leaders, as well as college organizations at the University of Marquette in Milwaukee. These meetings help to strengthen our business and young american networks in Wisconsin, enabling us to empower citizen leaders across key communities. We are thrilled to share that Alan LaPolice, previously American Promise’s National Coalitions Director, has accepted the leadership of the Wisconsin campaign. Alan grew up on a fifth-generation midwestern farm, is a combat veteran, and served for many years as a teacher and school superintendent.
We continue to accelerate the build-out of our Arizona campaign. Following our Phoenix Freedom is Brewing event and Arizona State University event last quarter, our volunteer and support list continues to grow. This quarter we hired our Arizona State Manager, Tim Castro. Tim’s an experienced pro, with recent success in the work for open primaries and political strategy for statewide officeholders. We have had great introductory meetings with local legislators and continue to plan meetings with potential grasstop allies. We look forward to strengthening and expanding these relationships as we move into 2024.
Getting Congress Moving
We know what it takes to win a constitutional amendment. As with all successful amendment campaigns, most of our work is in the states. But we need a successful vote of ⅔ of Congress and ratification in ¾ of the States to win. We measure progress in both areas, with 22 states now backing our amendment, and in Congress we have confirmed support of 70% of the total votes we need to win. As we move into the home stretch, we’re beefing up our Washington D.C. team with the hire of Jim Dornan as our Director of Congressional Affairs.
Jim is a seasoned professional who has served as Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, and Legislative Director for several Republican members of Congress.
Our American Promise - Tia Parker
Tia Parker became involved in American Promise this year as an American Promise Ambassador. Since then, she has been a leader, hosting and participating in numerous events and conversations, bringing people together to learn about the American Promise mission and generate support for this big, bold vision of winning the For Our Freedom Amendment to ensure every American’s voice is heard.
What is your occupation?
For ten years I have been working as an interior designer. I have been doing work all over New England, and some in Florida too. It’s been a really great second career for me. I took a break after I had children and stayed home with them and raised them. When my daughter was going into 3rd grade I started my own business.
I really like chasing a little yellow ball around a court. It can be a pickleball court, or tennis court. It creates a lot of levity for me and some athleticism, and helps take my mind off other things. It’s just a really good respite in my day, and you’re always guaranteed a laugh or two, especially the way I play.
And also my dogs.
What is your current state of mind?
I do feel hopeful about our future. I just think this is a promise for an opportunity for change in our country. Before this, I was feeling so flatlined with the disparity in our country. I really think human beings have so much more in common than we do differences but all that was ever being focused on was how vastly different we feel across the aisle. I just think that’s not true. It’s the big money in politics that’s creating this rift and creating these echo chambers that make us think we are so dissimilar, but I don’t think we are. I think America could be much more unified. So I’m feeling hopeful. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people recently that think “Yeah American Promise is a great idea, I think big money in politics is a real problem” but they don’t think it can be done. ButI do feel hopeful because I don’t feel that way, I feel like it can be done. There’s so many other things people have done in this world where they had to swim upstream for a really long time, and ultimately they accomplished something others thought impossible.
The story of Apollo 13 comes to mind. Those men were in a dire situation and against all odds they returned safely home to planet earth because a bunch of people back home banded together and worked the problem until they saw a way to accomplish their goal. I think AP will be challenging but doable if we band together to Amend the constitution with the For Our Freedom Amendment. We must not be complacent here. We must work the problem.
Which living person do you most admire?
As far as someone who has demonstrated real leadership and leadership with integrity, I have to say President Obama. As far as leadership goes, I don’t necessarily look to someone that has all the right ideas or has reached the right conclusions, people make mistakes, but I think if people are going forward with the real common good in mind with honor and integrity, then I have to get behind them.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Thinking back to the idea of swimming upstream and what can or cannot be done, I just think of people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She went against all odds in so many ways to become a Supreme Court justice. I’m sure she was told many times, “you are not going to get that role, it’s not going to be part of your future.” And despite that, she advanced forward.
Another woman I was really excited to meet is Andrea Campbell, who is the current Attorney General of Massachusetts. When she was running her campaign, she came down and spoke to a group of us, and she is just a force. She just exudes something otherworldly. She had a childhood that was wrought with odds stacked against her. Her father was incarcerated, her brothers were incarcerated, her mother passed away when she was young. She was in foster care. She had no one guiding her, and yet she just plodded along and went to Princeton and UCLA. She could have done anything with her career, but she wanted to become a public servant and give back because she felt that she was given so much. She was really inspirational to me.
What drew you to American Promise?
I’m not really a political animal, my husband is, so I’m steeped in politics because that’s what he and his family like to talk about. I’m more of a collaborator and a unifier, and that’s where I felt the major appeal. I felt like this was something that created hope for me to bring people back together, to realize we’re not all so different. Yes, we might have a different idea on one particular voting issue over another, but we really can agree on so many things on so many levels. I wouldn’t be able to as confidently go out and try to pitch people on the American Promise idea if I didn’t think it was wholeheartedly bipartisan. That’s super important to me, because I don’t want to just represent my belief systems, I want the American voters’ belief systems to be heard again, and I think their voices are being drowned out by big money in politics.
What We’re Reading - Key Articles
Group seeking to ban dark money in Pennsylvania elections
American Promise and the For Our Freedom Amendment recently received coverage in local Harrisburg news, as we continue to meet with local officials and work on the ground in Pennsylvania. See more on their coverage here, including a short clip.
Cracks in the Armor: Conservative Senator Challenges Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision
In case you missed it, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican from Missouri, has broken with his old boss, Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as with Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which Hawley says is at odds with the First Amendment and the Constitution as a whole. We’re talking with his team. Jeff Clements has more in The Messenger here.
Working to renovate our democracy.
American Promise National Advisory Council member Danielle Allen contributed a column to the Washington Post, sharing results of an unofficial poll she recently conducted among readers, and highlighting how individuals from a variety of backgrounds are impacted by problems facing our democracy, and what they are doing to solve them. Allen highlighted campaign finance reform as a common problem discussed among respondents, noting that readers feel too much concentrated power, through money, undermines our democracy. Read more about what civic actions readers are taking to combat these issues and more here.