Saturday, February 07, 2015

Our Story

Our Story

The Most Influential Man in America

Should more money = more speech?

If you agree that more money shouldn't equal more speech and that a small number of wealthy interests shouldn't control the fate of our country, then please join us and support The Most Influential Man in America campaign. With your donation, we'll use the funds to:
  • produce and release additional, upgraded videos and additional content for the campaign,
  • more widely share and promote these videos,
  • further develop our web presence and our outreach to give people more tools and ability to take action on this issue,
  • as well as support the work of our partner organization Money Out Voters In with their efforts to overturn Citizens United and bring about meaningful reforms to our campaign finance system.
The first-in funds will be used to produce the next videos in the series - roughly $6-7000.  But we have a stretch goal - and ambitions for the campaign's scope - that are much larger.  We're actually aiming to raise over $25,000.  Much of what we want to achieve with this larger financial target involves making the Most Influential Man website and social media presence more functional, informative and interactive to provide greater opportunities for people new to this issue to take action, plus creating a lot of additional content to keep the campaign going.

So if you're frustrated with the status quo and think that more money shouldn't equal more speech, please make a donation and help us get the big money influence out of politics.

As a thank you for your donation, we have some great perks, including bumper stickers and t-shirts to show your support for the campaign, an excellent documentary about money in politics - you can even come to the set of the next shoot or get a role in an upcoming spot!

Contributions to this campaign go to a 501c3 educational fund and are tax deductible to the full extent provided by law.

PLUS: if you support the goals of this campaign please help us get the word out - share this Indiegogo campaign and the original video below via your social media channels: http://youtu.be/9Xyu_gzgrOs



What is it? It is a series of political satire spots made to use humor and the reach of viral video to highlight the issue of unrestricted, undisclosed money in political campaigns and corporate influence over American politics - especially the unlimited campaign contributions made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010. 

Regardless of what issues you care about: whether it's the environment and climate change, the economy and rising inequality, even the recent budget standoffs or reforms to the tax code – the root cause of our inability to solve many of these problems is that our politicians listen primarily to the very small number of wealthy interests and individuals who largely finance their campaigns.

Until we change the system that gives large donors more voice than regular people, this dysfunction will continue. So rather than addressing any of these issues in particular, we're going after the root cause: big money in politics.

How big of a deal is this anyway?

(This next bit involves numbers and may make you angry. Proceed at your own risk).  Let's look at a pie chart (source: opensecrets.org):


This was in 2010 - the election year that the Citizens United decision was handed down by the Supreme Court.  Here we can see that already over 80% of election financing is coming from large donors, corporations and interest groups (I'm including candidate self-funding in that as clearly only wealthy candidates are able to self-fund to the tune of 11% of election spending).  Large donors giving over $2500 represent about 0.1% of the adult US population.

"Ok, so what?  What does that have to do with governance?"

Quite a bit actually.  A study conducted by Princeton and Northwestern Universities, looking at 20 years of policy and public opinion data, concluded this:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.
Perhaps this quote from the same study puts a finer point on it:

When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.

And here's the bottom line:
We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
So it seems who writes the checks really does matter when it comes to the decisions that actually get made.  The word that started getting used was Oligarchy.  And this was all before the Citizens United decision.
Here is a chart of Outside Spending (spending not by candidates or political parties)

(source: opensecrets.org)

Can you spot the elections that occurred after Citizens United?
Go back and look at the PAC slice of the pie from the 2010 chart above.  Then look again at this chart.  Now digest this: the Koch brothers have just announced that their political network plans to spend roughly $900 million on the 2016 election.  That is a number almost equal to the entire outside spending in the 2012 election cycle - even more, this is equal to the entire spending of each of the political parties in 2016 - and representing the viewpoint of a single economic interest.  To be clear: this point isn't about liberal vs conservative or to say "the Koch brothers are bad" - its about the concentration of political influence that our current system has made possible.  And we know that concentrating influence in this way has negative impacts on democratic outcomes.

Our system of election finance has become extremely broken.

Ok but, can anything really be done about it?

YES!  Right now there is an active groundswell of support to pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution overruling the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, overturning the notions that money is speech and that corporations have the same electoral rights as people. This would restore our ability to set reasonable limits on election spending to ensure everyone's equal representation that is the foundation and the promise of democracy.

There are also plenty of other bills and ballot measures both at the state and federal level that would seek to undo or limit some of the worst excesses of our current campaign finance system: from requiring disclosure of the source of Super PAC funds (so we know who's behind the political ads we see) to giving shareholders greater say over how corporations are using their political donations.

Are you aware of the call for a 28th Amendment?  Do you know about all the states and municipalities that are taking action?

Plenty of people are frustrated about the status quo.  But not enough are yet aware that real solutions to stem the flood of campaign money are on the table.  And if they're not aware, they can't demand change.

So where exactly do we fit into this?

Let's be real: is this series of satirical videos going to single-handedly change our campaign finance system or solve this problem?  Of course not.  But we can play an important role.

As John Nichols says in the excellent campaign finance documentary Pay2Play: "If you're going to challenge the money power, you better build people power."  This series was created specifically to be fun and sharable, to use satire and the reach of viral video to find and connect with an audience much broader than those who are already active or involved with this issue.  We will need to communicate beyond the choir if we are to build the people power necessary to challenge the money power of the established economic elites and business interests who currently dominate election finance, and thereby our political debate.  We hope you will help us to play our role with as loud a voice and as far of a reach as we can.

Please donate, share this campaign and

Stay active my friends.




~A.

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