Most Americans already know that money holds an outsized influence in politics, but not everyone knows that there are viable solutions aimed at solving this problem already taking root in Washington, D.C. and in state capitols across the country. For the past three months, the Democracy For All Video Challenge, a video contest led by People For the American Way and Say No to Big Money, has encouraged Americans from all walks of life to produce short videos portraying the problem of money in politics and the need for an amendment to overturn Supreme Court cases like Citizens United - using music, humor, drama and other forms of creativity.
Since August, each week one video submitted to the contest has won a $1,000 weekly prize. Following the end of the contest (this Wednesday) five $5,000 category prizes and one $25,000 grand prize will also be awarded. A all-star panel of judges including Michael Moore, Norman Lear, Dolores Huerta and Kathleen Turner will select the grand prize winner.
This week’s winner, titled “It’s Viral,” was produced by comedians Lee Camp and Negin Farsad. The video provides an entertaining look at how to harness the public’s attention around money in politics and why we must overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United. It pokes fun at what it takes for a video to go viral, showing everything from a cute kitten and baby to an exploding soda bottle. The video also features a host of familiar faces, from ice cream icons Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, better known as Ben & Jerry, to The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel. The underlying message is the importance of preserving our democracy and getting big money out of politics.
The Democracy For All Video Challenge is part of a broader movement calling for solutions to big money in politics. In particular, reform groups and members of Congress alike are coming together to build support for a constitutional amendment - the Democracy For All amendment - which would allow Congress and state legislatures to enact commonsense restrictions on the amount that can be spent to influence elections. Amending the Constitution is a monumental task, requiring a 2/3 majority of Congress and ¾ of the states. But it’s already happened 27 times in the history of this country, and an enormous amount of organizing has already happened so that it can happen once again. Just since 2010, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United, sixteen states, 650 towns and cities and more than five million people have gone on record in support of an amendment.
Public opinion is clear: the majority of Americans believe there is too much money in politics and support solutions to address this problem. Undoubtedly it will take a massive, sustained effort to turn the tide in favor of “We the People” over wealthy individuals and corporations. However, encouraging creative activism about the need for solutions to big money in politics, as the Democracy For All Video Challenge has done, can provide a powerful foundation that the pro-democracy movement can continue to build on.