Democracy, in this case, means getting money, especially dark and anonymous money, out of politics. One Pissed Off Liberal wrote a diary about this Thursday and, after my diary on the signing of SB 27 on Friday, I realized that this was my new cause as well. Not to mention the fact that the illustrious Shockwave helped organize the event and invited me to come for it.
I suspect that this is the only coverage of the event you'll find on the interwebs today, at least from the conventional news media (and, at 8:45 AM PDT, this is indeed the case), so now I'm making my debut as a citizen journalist. It's a TREMENDOUSLY worthy cause, and getting money out of politics is something else that California can take the lead in even if in at least one case it's following Vermont.
This is City Hall Park before the start of the kickoff event:
To make it clear, this march is a co-production. 99Rise is the overall organizer of this event. Its mission?
We're building the nationwide movement waging nonviolent struggle to get big money out of American politics.Activism, yes. There are three organizations, each with a specific objective, supporting it. These are WolfPac, Cenk Uygur's project to get money out of politics by passing a constitutional amendment (the 28th) that overturns Citizens United, Money Out Voters In (MOVI), supporting the objectives that WolfPac supports but on a state level, and the California Clean Money Campaign, which works on getting money out of and shining a light on the contributors to the California ballot initiative process.
Representatives of each group spoke to the assembled group - I'd say 40-50 of us. So did a couple of political candidates: Marianne Williamson, running for Congress in the 33rd district as an independent to the left of the Democratic party, and Derek Cressman, a Democratic candidate for the office of Secretary of State. The collective message was very clear: GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS.
Marianne Williamson spoke first. She made it clear that she thinks that Citizens United and McCutcheon have tilted the playing field so much that this is no longer government for, of, and by the people, but government for, of, and by a few of the people, and that this has happened by fiat. NO conversation on a national level. She proposed that since the 1830s there have been several causes that have impelled a generation, or at least some members of it, to action: the abolitionist movement, women's suffrage, the Vietnam war, and that money in politics is this generation's Vietnam war. This generation can't wimp out of it, she said, and it was clear from the people assembled that this generation won't have to fight for their cause alone. Then we had music from the political hard rock band Rooftop Revolutionaries. Three songs, and, since I'm a boomer, I only recognized one of them: Creedence Clearwater Revival's Fortunate Son. Very appropriate for the occasion.
We heard from the three groups as well. Alison Hartson, speaking for WolfPac, reminded us that amendments to the Constitution don't have to be initiated by Congress, and that if 34 states agree, a convention may be called to propose amendments. Vermont has become the first state to endorse such a convention, and 10 other states (California is one of them, and the legislation is labeled AJR 1) are working on this. Michelle Sutter of MOVI notes that a study conducted by the political science departments at Princeton and Northwestern Universities is about to be released that will show that big money donors get their political objectives met 100% of the time. MOVI distributed a map.
The rally concluded with a stump speech by Derek Cressman, who is, as his campaign website says,
running for Secretary of State to make sure your vote counts and your voice is heard. The voices of the people should not be drowned out by corporations or billionaires. When secretive, out-of-state groups funneled $11 million into California’s 2012 elections, I blew the whistle and got record fines for two front groups in the Koch Brothers big money political network.He will work for MUCH more than just access.
Then, the group marched off toward Burbank, the goal of the first day's march. This is an IMPORTANT step in the struggle to undo the damage caused by the Roberts Court with Citizens United and McCutcheon. I would have marched but I had papers to grade waiting for me at home. For those of you who live in North Los Angeles County and the Central Valley, here's the march route as it is so far.
An auspicious beginning in support of an important objective.