Thanksgiving -- it's a time to give thanks, visit loved ones, decompress… and inevitably... talk politics around the dinner table.
Folks will probably have some strong opinions -- but everyone can probably agree: politicians care more about catering to donors than listening to voters.
We’ve all heard the common, discouraged response: “Our government is corrupted beyond repair, so why bother? Nobody will listen to us anyway.”
In the face of so much organized money and political power, it’s understandable why Cousin Jeremy or Aunt Sally might feel that way. Maybe they just didn’t get enough mashed potatoes -- but their defeatism doesn’t match the facts.
Over the past year, we’ve made more progress against the influence of big money in politics than ever before. But taking back democracy means we need everyone -- even your cynical in-laws -- to understand they really can make a difference.
Here’s what to tell the cynics this Thanksgiving:
Someone says… “Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything!”
The truth is… voters of every party are unified on getting big money out of politics. 92% of Democrats and 94% of Republicans agree in principle that big money is a problem.
And we agree on what to do about it too, with overwhelming cross-partisan support for reforms like campaign spending disclosure and citizen-funded elections.
Someone says… “Politicians say they’ll make government work on the campaign trail, then break promises in office.”
The truth is… we can make this election about real solutions that’ll restore balance to our system.
Activists like you are holding candidates accountable when they sell out to Super PACs, and giving them kudos when they include reforms like citizen-funded elections and full disclosure of political spending in their platforms. (You can become a sponsor right now.)
Someone says… “This Congress can’t get anything done, so how can reform happen?”
The truth is… state and local activists are winning huge democracy victories.
From automatic voter registration in Oregon and California, to landmark ballot measures to strengthen public financing in Maine and stop partisan gerrymandering in Ohio.
And just last week we helped preserve the popular Citizens Election Program in Connecticut when Senate leadership threatened cuts. We’re putting proven reforms in place and working to take them nationwide as resources allow.
Someone says… “You can’t trust anyone in Washington, they’re all corrupt.”
The truth is… okay that one might be true, but the real problem is a broken system, not bad people.
These days, candidates have to raise huge sums of money, often with strings attached, to stay competitive.
But that’s no reason to tune out -- we can and will change our system so good public servants can run for office without having to sell out.
Someone says… “Nobody cares about change, so why should I?
The truth is… together we’ve built a nationwide movement for democracy.
Instead of surrendering after Citizens United came down, you and others like you have used the 5 years since that ruling to educate, organize, and mobilize.
People power was behind every single win so far, and it shows no sign of stopping.
If you stop and take stock of how far we’ve come… there’s a lot to be proud of:
Don’t get us wrong -- there’s still plenty of reasons to mistrust politicians. But if we let that anger at a system that’s not working for us turn into resignation or cynicism, we’re playing right into wealthy donors’ hands.
The political operatives and lobbyists who are getting rich by hurting our democracy want nothing more than voters who are too distracted or discouraged to get involved. Instead, we’re working together to restore our democracy. And that’s really something to be thankful for.
So this Thanksgiving -- or anytime you’re talking about the path our country is on -- don’t let cynicism and resignation win the day. There’s a lot to be hopeful for -- so spread the good news!
Office: Common Cause National