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Why Do We Need A Billion Dollars?


The short answer is that we're trying to amend the U.S. Constitution by persuading a couple hundred million Americans to abandon partisanship and pressure Congress to do the right thing for the country.

These aren't going to be the kind of Constitutional changes that people with power and money are going to like. We're going to term limit Congress to twelve years and eliminate all contributions to federal campaigns and political parties except those made by individual living human beings, capped at less than $2000 a year.


Power and money.


The real power in Congress derives from seniority and partisanship-the longer you're in office and the more you cleave to the party line. This is the way to committee chairmanships and House and Senate leadership. Once you're Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader, you can singlehandedly decide what bills get voted on and what bills never see the light of day.

I've read the Constitution (you know, for fun), and I'm going to bet James Madison never intended to have some lifetime Senator stick a bill in his pocket to keep Congress from voting on it. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but this seems…unconstitutional. It sounds like veto power, which only the President is supposed to have. Madison probably never intended a lifetime Senator either. It's way too "Roman Republic of the first century BC", and we all know what happened to THEM.


Term limits for Congress.

The other amendment we want takes away the millions and billions of dollars that get donated to the Democratic and Republican parties, Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees, and the candidates for federal office themselves. This will keep parties from being able to decide who runs for office, who wins, and how they vote once in office. It will keep a Congressperson with a flush campaign war chest from handing a colleague a hundred thousand bucks for HIS campaign in exchange for his support. (Yes. They can do that).

They're not going to like that at all.

Neither are all the single-issue political groups and corporations who funnel money to both parties, not for any specific policy per se, but simply for the sake of having a federal legislator in their pocket for when they might need one. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but I'll bet James Madison never intended that either.

Partisanship and well-funded parties have taken away the average citizen's right to representation. When the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee can send an email to all the Democrats in Congress and tell them how to vote on a bill, the needs and wants of their constituents (that's you) aren't considered. When the Republican Speaker of the House says all Republicans vote nay, all Republicans vote nay.

These elected officials are supposed to be generals. The political parties have turned them into foot-soldiers.

James Madison isn't around for me to ask, but I'll bet he never intended that.

***


Now that I think about it, we probably need ten billion dollars.

The organizations that have a vested interest in maintaining America's toxic political status quo - the two major parties, the partisan media, and legions of single-issue SuperPACs - have way more than a billion dollars to work with. All this money is funding candidates, political campaigns, issue ads, partisan think tanks, university faculties, and the news you see on TV.

Their goal, in a nutshell, is to keep Americans divided. If we're busy fighting each other, we won't be fighting them.

Simple, but expensive.

There are somewhere between 150 and 200 million registered voters in this country. We need to reach every single one of them before the next election and convince them, much like George Washington had to do at Valley Forge, that the American cause of freedom and self-government is in danger of being lost. Only unity, discipline, and sacrifice will save it.

We need to persuade millions of Americans to abandon the partisanship they've clung to their entire lives. We need to remind the people of the United States what they're capable of when they speak in one voice and act as one nation. We need to show them that the governing of this country is their right and responsibility, and that they've given it away to people and organizations with narrow and self-serving interests. We need to let millions of Americans know that it doesn't have to be this way, and only they have the power to change it.

Simple, but expensive.

It is our intention to spend a billion dollars on TV ads in every major market. We will need to blanket every social media platform with our mission. We will need to persuade or pay nationally-known celebrities to star in commercials that talk about our issues.

We need Nebraska farmers and Ohio steelworkers and New York bankers and Main Street shop owners and cross-country truck drivers and working mothers and single fathers and deployed military members to hear this message and act on it all at the same time.

Every generation of Americans is given a burden to bear and a seemingly-insurmountable trial to overcome.

This is ours.




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 stacey.roberts@valleyforgeproject.org.

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