Thursday night the St. Pete City Council agreed to support a Move to Amend resolution in support of grass-roots action. The resolution was brought to the table by members of Awake Pinellas and its affiliate, Move to Amend Pinellas County. The motion to pass it was proposed by City Councilwoman Darden Rice.
More than 20 activists dressed in bright red Move to Amend T-shirts filled the chambers and sat patiently for three hours awaiting their turn to speak. The goal of the Move to Amend movement is to oppose recent Federal Supreme Court rulings such as the 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, where it was ruled that corporations are people; and this year’s McCutheon vs. FEC case, in which the capping of aggregate campaign contributions was invalidated.
They also propose to amend the Constitution in order to “establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” The resolution also calls for the regulation of political action committees and a return to a participatory democracy in which voters have a sense of trust in their Government.
“One of the stalwarts of Democracy is that one person equal’s one vote," says Ashley Green, a member of the group. "Plutocracy is a government dictated by the wealthy. An infinite number of dollars equals one vote, not one person. A corporation and an infinite number of dollars is one vote. That’s kind of scary.”
Such resolutions have already been passed by local governments and municipalities all over the country. Activists stressed that the issue is non-partisan. According to The New Yorker's Jill Lepore n her recent article,
“The Crooked and the Dead,” four out of five people support campaign finance reform.
“One way to amend the constitution, way down the road, is to get a two-thirds vote from both houses of Congress, so that the support of this grassroots effort sends a message to Congress about how our people feel," said Councilwoman Rice. "The anger over laws that favor the elite is what has fueled grassroots movements, whether it’s the Tea Party or The Occupy Movement.”
Bruce Nissen, a member of Awake Pinellas, said that the amount of money flooding into our electoral political system has jumped to levels previously unheard of. “The trends are widespread in Florida and elsewhere. Elected officials have to spend at least four hours a day soliciting money, just to stay competitive in a National election.”
“I’m afraid not to say that our Republic is in great danger," Councilman Karl Nurse said somewhat ominously. "We are talking about people rich almost beyond belief, billionaires have the ability to dominate our public discourse. We are really at a point that if we don’t fix this, I worry for the future of our Republic. We are on the edge of looking back and saying, “What happened?””