The New York Times recently brought to light an unsettling statistic: out of the more than 300 million Americans who live and pay taxes in this country, a mere 158 families have contributed more than half of all donations to presidential candidates in the 2016 cycle thus far. In what is supposed to be a representative democracy, these numbers are a clear sign of a nation gone astray. Unchecked, unlimited and undisclosed money in politics in the wake of Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United has created a political system that caters increasingly to "the donor class" -- the one percent of the one percent -- at the expense of everyone else.
To help amplify more voices in support of a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United, People For the American Way has teamed up with Say No to Big Money, with the backing of more than 150 organizations, to produce the $64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge. This campaign is encouraging people from all walks of life, from students to musicians to filmmakers to activists, to create short videos that convey the social, economic and environmental costs of big money in politics and the need for a constitutional amendment. The contest launched in August and continues until December. With $1,000 awarded each Wednesday to a weekly winner, five category prizes of $5,000, and a grand prize of $25,000, the contest has already generated a diverse array of entries. Some entrants choose to link money in politics to other issues they care about, like climate change and student loan debt, while others use metaphors, music and humor to get their message across.
Take this week's winner. In the short video, voter after voter is prevented from casting a ballot unless they have cash to contribute, reflecting the feeling among many Americans of being shut out of a democracy increasingly controlled by big money interests.
Last week's winner made the case for a constitutional amendment by linking the problem of big money in politics with other major issues of our time, from economic inequality to climate change.
Other winning videos have looked at the impact of outsized corporate influence in elections using satire, original raps, and even mock FaceTime calls with viewers.
Anyone thirteen years of age or older can enter the contest. For example, this winning video was made by Simon Lundquist, a fifteen-year-old student.
From high school students to professional musicians, Americans across the country, most of whom have never before spoken out in support of a constitutional amendment, are sharing their creativity with the movement to get big money out of politics -- and our movement is stronger for it.