From Sea to Shining Sea, Americans Organize to Renew, Reclaim Democracy

30 of your fellow American citizens gather at the Larkspur Cafe in Sitka, Alaska to plan for the 2-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision.

Last night, We, the People mobilized to fight back and reclaim our Constitution and our democracy for its human citizens, the ones who vote in elections and to whom our representatives are supposed to be accountable.

On January 21, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court unleashed a roaring torrent of unlimited corporate money into our elections in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. In so doing, they twisted the First Amendment far from its intended, long-understood meaning and undermined the very essence of American democracy.

Yesterday evening, more than 200 groups of Americans gathered in living rooms, university classrooms, interfaith centers, cafes, and more than a dozen Occupy sites to join Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a coalition of organizations working toward a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s outrageous ruling.

And they did more than listen to the Senator and the others on the live stream. They sat down and began planning how to organize in their own communities, and brainstorming grassroots ideas for a Nationwide Day of Action on January 21, 2012 (the two-year anniversary of Citizens United).

The only word that can be used to describe what we’re feeling here right now at the Democracy is For People campaign is “exhilarated.” Tired, but exhilarated… and inspired.

From Senator Sanders’ determined and inspiring words, to the citizens in Boulder, Colorado and Missoula, Montana, who have already passed referenda challenging corporate personhood (by 3-to-1 margins!), there was a lot of motivation for moving forward.

People are planning and organizing in 42 states across the nation. We’ve heard amazing things about last night’s gatherings already. And we’ll be posting here at CitizenVox.org to update readers on some of them as more reports come in.

Amending the Constitution is a difficult task (as it should be). And as Charles Pierce pointed out last week on his Esquire blog, “thanks to the very decision against which this amendment is aimed, the political process to pass it will be as open to corporate money-bombing as any other political process in this country will be for the foreseeable future.”

Yet Americans, and our democracy, are resilient. It was that resilience and energy that Bill Moyers talked about in his keynote address at Public Citizen’s 40th anniversary celebration last month, noting how past generations of Americans have overcome extreme concentrations of wealth and power that undermined democracy, in the process ensuring reforms and constitutional amendments that made us a more perfect Union.

Moyers closed his address by encouraging us all to “Remember: Democracy doesn’t begin at the top; it begins at the bottom, when flesh-and-blood human beings fight to rekindle the patriot’s dream.” Join us in that undertaking. Together we can amend the Constitution to ensure that corporate money is no longer allowed to dominate our politics.

Let’s get to work.

Sean Siperstein is a Legal Fellow with the Democracy is For People campaign.