Citizens in New Hampshire are working hard to make the Granite State the 20th state to formally call for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution. Since 2012, 82 local resolutions have been passed in support of the amendment in New Hampshire, thanks to the tireless efforts of its citizens across the state. Now these actions have made their way to the Capitol. On January 15, 2019, House Bill 504 was introduced to the New Hampshire state legislature, and state lawmakers will soon vote on the bill. In support of the bill, American Promise Advisory Board member Ella McGrail wrote an op-ed that was published in New Hampshire newspapers. Click here to find out what you can do to support HB 504, and read on to hear Ella's passionate case advocating for its passage.
By Ella McGrail
I’ve lived in New Hampshire all my life, and I’m reminded of why I love living here when the primary rolls around. We are a state that revels in our freedom of speech, because every four years the world’s eyes are on us and it’s our job to project the issues that Americans care about.
We have one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country, and while political disillusionment is high right now, when I participate in politics in our state the mood is celebratory. I’m constantly delighted by the creativity and passion New Hampshirites display at rallies and protests, whether it be expressed through music, speeches, or even costumes. We are a swing state where Republicans, Democrats, and all the people in between live in close quarters, and while civil discourse does often devolve into less productive conflict, I find that New Hampshire citizens usually embrace the spirit of bipartisanship. It’s touching to go to events—whether they be protests or family affairs—and witness people who think differently having productive conversations or simply coexisting peacefully. Not only are we a state full of opinionated voices, we are a state accustomed to and proud of the different view points and expertise those voices bring.
So four years ago during my sophomore year of high school, when I began to learn about money in politics and the threat it poses to the voices of the people, I was disturbed. Thanks to Supreme Court decisions like the 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC ruling, which found that money is a form of free speech and corporations are entitled to freedom of speech, corporations and the super wealthy are able to donate huge sums of money in lobbying funds and campaign expenditures and thus gain disproportionate influence over American politicians.
Exxon Mobil, for example, has shelled out millions of dollars to block climate change legislation. During the 2018 midterm elections billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Michael Bloomberg donated tens of millions of dollars to conservative and liberal candidates respectively.
In the United States House, approximately 90 percent of the candidates who spend the most money on their campaign win their election. Approximately 80 percent of the biggest spenders in the Senate win their election. It’s not always the case that the person who spends the most wins, but it’s a major factor, and to run a serious campaign at all a staggering amount of money needs to be raised. The average Democratic Senate candidate raised $3,792,559 for the 2018 midterm election, and the average Republican raised $1,729,613.
The result is that elected officials have to answer to their donors more than they have to answer to their constituents. The super wealthy receive greater representation than everyone else. Not only is this a gross example of income inequality, it is silencing the voices of the vast majority of the American people.
On Jan. 15, a bill was introduced to the New Hampshire state legislature that has major implications for our state and our country. If passed, House Bill 504 would make New Hampshire the 20th state to demand a 28th amendment to the Constitution, an amendment that would call upon Congress to regulate the role of money in politics. Section one of the bill reads:
“Congress and State Legislatures shall regulate the role of money in elections and governance to ensure transparency, prevent corruption, and protect against the buying of access to or influence over representatives. No such regulation shall be deemed in violation of freedom of speech rights in the Constitution of the United States or its Amendments.”
The bill also calls for an end to gerrymandering. To read the rest of the bill click here.
The fact that 19 states have already officially called for this amendment proves that Americans are sick of feeling powerless. Corporations are not citizens, the wealthy deserve no more or less representation than the rest of us, and while money may talk, in doing so it silences millions.
New Hampshire has not given up. We haven’t succumbed to the detachment and low voter turnouts that so many other states have fallen prey to. We care deeply about the issues that impact our country and our communities, and we’re loud about them. This is a moment where we have to defend our right to have a say in how our lives are run, and the right to correct the wrongs we see in the world, regardless of our party, opinion, or wealth.
The primaries aren’t for another year, but the time to be loud is now. Contact your state representative today and ask them to support HB 504.