By Stacey Roberts
We've gotten a lot of feedback on The Valley Forge Project already, so we thought we’d make a Frequently Asked Questions post to answer the things that keep popping up. We thank you all for your passion and interest.
1. The Valley Forge Project. Great name. Is this just another one of those heroic-sounding SuperPACs that wants to push their multifaceted agenda on the rest of us? We DO like the name. We are hoping that people will be inspired by the heroism of the Continental soldiers at Valley Forge, who managed to set aside regional, political, financial, partisan, and all manner of petty personal concerns, not to mention their own (mostly justified) pessimism while marching barefoot in the snow and eating rotten food and contracting dysentery in order to come together and make real sacrifices to save the country. We’d love it if Americans could once again be heroes to the Republic and stop letting their disillusionment with our current political system or their own political malaise paralyze them and make them abandon all hope.
2. Is The Valley Forge Project merely a front for a right-wing or left-wing organization? No. We believe that partisanship is a big reason the country is in the sorry state it’s in now. We work hard to avoid any ideology that conforms to either right or left-wing philosophies.
3. Well, that’s ridiculous. There are no more non-partisan solutions in America. Sure there are. Most Americans are not wild-eyed ideologues who already have their minds made up and know how everything is going to work out before they try anything. Most of us are willing to do more than complain and infuse the populace with pessimism. We refuse to be the kind of people who, having tried no solution, declare America’s problems unsolvable.
4. Where are you getting your money from? Big corporate? Extreme fringe movements? Anonymous foreign actors? We are getting our money from individual American citizens giving what they can.
5. Amending the Constitution just opens the door to ruining everything and won’t work anyway. So why bother? Amending the Constitution is a way for Americans to set things right that maybe the Founders hadn’t foreseen two hundred years ago before the flush toilet, air travel, and the Internet were invented. It’s how we correct our mistakes and adjust to modern times. It’s also a way for us to work around a government that can’t be trusted to follow the rules, or worse, makes up their own rules to satisfy a narrow, short-term partisan or self-serving goal.
We know that any effort to change the Constitution bothers original constructionists. We look forward to three-fifths of their letters.
6. Term-limits are undemocratic and interfere with my right to vote for whoever I want. The President is term-limited, as are quite a lot of state officials. You’re not voting for “whoever you want” now. The candidates that get on the ballot are selected, cultivated, and funded by the parties. Not because they think these people will be visionary public servants who will do their best for their state or district. They are chosen solely for their loyalty and commitment to the party platform. We think we’re electing generals, but all we’re really getting are pliant foot soldiers who don’t have to read the bills they’re voting on because the party has already told them what their vote is going to be. This infringes on your Constitutional right to representation far more than sending a Senator or Congressman home after twelve years of service. Another problem lending to Congressional dysfunction is seniority. The longest-serving members have the most clout. They can single-handedly keep a bill from ever getting a vote, or even getting a committee hearing. When the power in Congress is held either by those who have been there the longest or those who are the most loyal party members, they decide what laws get passed, not your Congressman who just got elected. If term limits abridge your rights, it’s nothing compared to what party power and seniority in Congress is doing. The system we have isn’t working. Perhaps we should try something different.
7. What about term limits for the Supreme Court, eliminating the Electoral College, increasing the term of a House member from two years to four, picking Congressmen the way we pick juries, repealing the Second Amendment, outlawing abortion, or any number of OTHER Constitutional amendments? When you consider the amount of resistance we’ve received on just the two amendments we want (reforms that are supported by over eighty percent of the American citizenry), we’ll be lucky to get these two.
8. The Valley Forge Project is just another scam to raise money. Perpetrators of scams don’t publish their financial statements on their website. Anyone who wants to can go see how much money we bring in and what we spend it on. Scammers tend to keep that information away from prying eyes. As do most SuperPACs with heroic-sounding names.
9. You’re all fools. This will never work. We may be fools, and indeed, doing nothing is far easier than trying to do something. But we (foolishly or otherwise) believe in America’s history and the people of the United States. Any time the country has been in trouble, average American citizens have risen to save the day. Setting aside partisanship, ideology, and our own ironclad beliefs is an act of courage, optimism, and patriotism, but that’s what America is all about. Or used to be.
10. A billion dollars? You can do a lot of damage with that kind of money. And what if Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos just writes a check for that? Now they’ve taken over your organization and can do whatever evil things they want! Well, sure - a billion dollars is a lot of money. The Valley Forge Project exists to do one thing – pass these two amendments. Once they are ratified, our organization will shut down forever. If a hundred million people each send us ten bucks or Warren Buffett writes us a check for a billion dollars tomorrow, the only thing they’ll get are two Constitutional amendments. We have no other purpose for being. We don’t want anything else.
11. The problems facing America are all the fault of Donald Trump, Joe Biden, George Bush, Barack Obama, the Democrats, the Republicans, and anyone who supports/opposes them. You have to get rid of them first! Thinking that half the country will spontaneously disappear or suddenly come around to our way of seeing things isn’t likely. America had a similar thought in the 1860’s, and that didn’t work out so well. We believe that most Americans are not evil or tribal or stupid or selfish or nearly as hyperpartisan as we are led to believe. We think that if presented with a couple of big ideas, Americans will get behind them. We believe that if the citizens are given a way to end the partisan dumpster fire of the last four decades or so, they will do it. Giving up is easy. Assuming nothing will ever change is comforting. Making change happen takes guts and work, and we believe the people of this country are ready and capable. We won’t give up on them.
12. I have strong partisan beliefs. I am certain that the party I don’t like is the root cause of everything that’s wrong with America and I’m not going to change my mind. Your whole “let’s unite in common purpose” is a deranged fantasy. So I’m guessing I’m not a good fit for The Valley Forge Project?
Sure you are. Passion is compelling. Your passion for politics and government is necessary, and we need all the knowledge you’ve gotten from having your eye on this particular ball for so long. You’ll come up with ideas we haven’t thought of and will have unique insights that can be of great help to our cause. Every American can have a part to play.
The only argument we’ll make about partisanship is that it will never change until we change it. Left and right have been battling it out for at least three decades now. We and the nation are the collateral damage. You might think that the worst Democrat is better than the best Republican or that the worst Republican is better than the best Democrat. That commitment to party loyalty is exactly what the political class of the United States has dreamed of since the parties were formed. Americans turning against each other is Christmas in November for career politicians, party hacks, and rich donors who only want money and power and whatever single issue dominates their ambition.
Blind, virulent, angry partisanship hands them America on a silver platter that we paid for. They don’t have to be reasonable or fair or work for the interests of a diverse citizenry. They can just spout partisan talking points, win elections, and do nothing. Ten years from now, twenty years from now, we’ll be having the same left-right fights we have today. The names will change, but the war goes on. As it did ten and twenty years ago. Until we change the conversation, no one will listen. We believe that the American people have it within their power to kick over the applecart of American politics and government that we’ve been living with for most of our lives. All it takes is to remind them that they own the apples, the cart, the wheels, and the road. We can do the impossible when we unite in common purpose. We’ve done it before.
We thank you for your interest and look forward to working together for the sake of the country.
Stacey Roberts is the author of “No One Left But All Of Us” and the founder and executive director of the Valley Forge Project. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.