Q&A with Cenk Uygur, Host and Founder of The Young Turks

At this year’s National Citizen Leadership Conference in Washington D.C., we got the chance to ask citizen leaders from across the nation key questions about why they support a 28th Amendment to ensure fair elections and get big money out of politics.

Cenk Uygur—founder of The Young Turks and Wolf-PAC, a fellow organization working toward the 28th Amendment—joined us at the conference and spoke with Citizen Empowerment Coordinator Wambui Gatheru about why he supports a 28th Amendment to get money out of politics.

Wambui Gatheru: What’s one issue you want to solve with the passage of the 28th Amendment?

Cenk Uygur: The reason that I care so much about getting money out of politics is because it affects every issue, every priority, but most importantly democracy itself. And that is what is most frustrating to me. So it is both the meta-issue and the thing that affects all other issues. We see it in issue after issue. Take gun control: 93 percent of Americans want federal background checks. What kind of a country do we live in if 93 percent want it, and they don’t get it? Well, I know the answer, and it isn’t democracy.

WG: So we can use the 28th Amendment as groundwork for fixing other issues?

CU: Absolutely. Both on economic justice and social justice, all progress is getting blocked because [elected officials] literally don’t care about their voters. What gets them elected 19 out of 20 times in Congress is whoever has the most money. Not whether they’re conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. Whoever has more money wins, so then they rationally, logically think, “I’ve got to go get my bribes. If I don’t get bribes, I don’t win. I have to have more money. Where’s most of the money? Corporate donors and billionaires, so I’m going to go serve them.” They don’t serve us. If we don’t fix that, we’re never going to win on any other issues.

WG: What kind of America do you see once the 28th Amendment is passed?

CU: An America that already existed. It’s not a utopia. It’s not Lala Land. It’s real. From 1930 to 1970, roughly speaking about 40 years, we had what even conservatives acknowledged as the Golden Age of America. Franklin Roosevelt did the New Deal where we said, “We’re not just going to care about the oligarchs. We are going to care about all Americans.” That gave us all new programs to help the middle class. At that point, money had not taken over politics. On the domestic front, productivity skyrocketed, and our wages matched productivity. That was a moment in time when they actually cared about votes and voters.