By Azor Cole, American Promise Citizen Empowerment Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wyoming and Massachusetts are states often as far apart in their politics as they are geographically. But today, citizen leaders in both states are rallying around the same goal: Ballot initiatives to advance the 28th Amendment to secure our rights to fair, free elections so that people, not money, govern America.
Americans from all political parties agree that getting money out of politics is something we need to work together to achieve.
"The most rewarding part of the process has been connecting with people all over the state, from widely different backgrounds, and finding an issue we can all agree on," says Ken Chestek, Law Professor and Chair of Wyoming Promise. "I hate the polarization that we all see in our politics. We need to be able to talk to each other, in a civil and respectful way, in order to solve our many problems. This issue is one where both sides can agree."
Wyoming Promise, the volunteer group spearheading this historic effort, have the support of former Wyoming Senator, Alan Simpson (R).
"We must get this 'dark money' out of our political system by amending our Constitution to declare that corporations are not people and money is not speech," says Senator Simpson, a conservative and member of the American Promise Advisory Council.
2,000 miles to the East, Massachusetts citizen leaders volunteering with People Govern, Not Money are fighting the same fight.
"This campaign has energized, organized, [and] focused hundreds of people on a single fundamental task," says Nancy Heselton, member of People Govern, Not Money.
The ballot initiative process is powerful - It's not supposed to be easy, and citizen leaders from Wyoming Promise and People Govern, Not Money have embraced the challenge.
"The process has been much like a home cook tossed into a battle of the Iron Chefs with the theme ingredient 'people power' rather than pickled peppers," says Dr. Liz Tighe, concerned citizen and social psychologist working on the People Govern, Not Money ballot initiative. "It's heartening to know that others share the concern about the Citizens United decision and support passing a constitutional amendment to overturn it."
Democracy is a beautiful thing, and a pervading theme from both WY and MA camps is civic duty.
Says Tighe, "It's 'on us', as they say. If it's broke, we broke it. It's our responsibility to fix it."