Money in politics may be out of control, but around the country reforms aimed at addressing the problem are beginning to take root. Just this week, voters in Maine and Seattle passed measures to help level the playing field in their state and local elections so that the voices of everyday people can be heard amidst an avalanche of big money. This milestone is particularly significant as these reform referendums are the first of their kind to be passed in a post-Citizens United election landscape. These victories were the result of a collaborative effort between regional and national organizations to educate the public and turn out the vote, and they reinforce what is already increasingly clear: people are sick and tired of big money interests dominating the political process.
In addition to passing campaign finance reforms on the state and local level, the growing pro-democracy movement is also gaining momentum in the push to overturn Supreme Court cases like Citizens United through an amendment to the Constitution. The leading proposal in Congress to do this - the Democracy For All amendment - currently has 138 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate. Moreover, sixteen states, 650 municipalities and more than five million people have already gone on record in support of an amendment. All of this grassroots organizing has occurred since 2010, the year Citizens United was handed down.
Building on this momentum, Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way - with the support of a broad coalition of organizations - have spearheaded a video contest known as the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge calling for short videos portraying the social, economic and environmental implications of unchecked money in politics while connecting the dots to the need for an amendment. The contest launched in August and continues until December 2. It includes a $1,000 prize awarded each week to one Weekly Winner, in addition to a $25,000 grand prize and five $5,000 category prizes to be awarded at the end of the contest. The campaign is backed by more than 150 organizations, including good government, environmental, social and economic reform groups.
The tenth $1,000 weekly prize goes to comedian, musician and stay-at-home dad Matt Dundas for his video “Money in Politics is Out of Control,” a hilarious rant about our broken campaign finance system with a convincing call-to-action to support the Democracy For All amendment.
There are just four more weekly $1,000 prizes left to award, in addition to the category and grand prizes. However, the real value of this contest is already becoming clear: these stories - of ordinary people from all walks of life taking a stand against big money in politics - can inspire others to join the growing movement.