Powered Up! Inspiring Takeaways from the National Citizen Leadership Conference

We leave the NCLC fired up as citizens to join with our fellow Americans across the nation to take back our country from big money and pass the 28th amendment. Here were some of the conference’s most empowering moments.

Last weekend, hundreds of citizen leaders joined lawmakers, business leaders and journalists in Washington D.C. to work together, find inspiration, and plan our next steps to pass an amendment to get big money out of politics and save our republic. Discussions were lively, thought-provoking and empowering. Everyone left with new ideas about how we could help in the fight for the 28th amendment.

We were ecstatic to see so many citizen leaders dedicated to restoring democracy and giving power back to the people. Citizens traveled from across the nation—California, Florida, Washington, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Illinois, New York, Alabama and many more states were represented. Together, we marched to the Capitol to tell our elected officials that We the People should govern, not Big Money.

Many Perspectives, One Voice

Throughout the event, both citizen leaders and speakers shared their personal reasons for supporting a 28th amendment and discussed the concerns they hear from their fellow citizens about money in politics. Some were passionate about protecting the environment; others wanted to level the playing field in the economic market; still others wanted to protect free speech and freedom of information. Everyone agreed, though, that the root of these issues is money in politics. Wealthy donors dictate our politicians’ priorities, and politicians spend more time pandering to Big Money than legislating on behalf of the American people.

Journalist Bill Moyers said, “This is the fight for our lives because the republic is fighting for its life.”

Former Chief White House Ethics Counsel and candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota Richard Painter said, “Both political parties are complicit, and we need to put a stop to it.”

Hopeful for Tomorrow

Despite the bleakness of our current situation, the spirit of the conference was hopefulness. Everyone there is now more certain than ever that we can pass an amendment to get money out of politics—because we are more committed than ever to working together toward this historic cause. We are well on our way: 19 states and over 800 cities have sent resolutions to Congress calling for the 28th amendment, 75 percent of Americans support an amendment to get money out of politics according to a study conducted by the University of Maryland—and the numbers just keep growing.

Federal Election Commission Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub said, “People like you turning out and turning out your friends can make the difference.”

Vice President of Center for American Progress Michele Jawando said, “While Citizens United is the law of the land today, it does not always have to be that way.”

President of Our Revolution and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner said, “Imagine a world where people have the power. Imagine it because that is the world we are going to create.”

Regardless of partisan ideology, occupation or background, the majority of citizens want Congress to regulate campaign contributions, so we need to band together. In many states, our American Promise Associations (APAs) have grown so large they have split into multiple APAs. In St. Louis, around 200 people attended our “Writing the 28th Amendment” town hall tour to give their input on what should be included in the amendment. On the last day of NCLC, Lobby Day, citizen leaders held more than 70 meetings with lawmakers and Congressional staff asking them to support the 28th amendment.

Across the country, resolutions for the 28th amendment have been passed by vast margins when citizens are allowed to vote on them. In Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, 84 percent of voters approved 28th amendment resolutions. In Colorado and Montana, voters passed ballot initiatives for the amendment by 75 percent.

Listening to all the success stories coming from our APAs and hearing everyone's plans for advancing the 28th in their community strengthened our determination and showed that we, the American people, can—and will—get money out of politics.