By Andrew Gibson
This Saturday, our nation celebrates the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This day should be used to reflect on the ideals and principles upon which this country was founded so as to remind us of the work still to be done in order to achieve goals enshrined in that all-important document.
The Declaration of Independence affirms America’s self-governance. It states that “governments […] derive[e] their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and that all are treated equal under the law. As Public Citizen strives to ensure that all citizens are represented in the halls of power, our members and supporters should keep the founders’ philosophy in mind as we celebrate America’s birthday with our family and friends.
To restore our democracy so all citizens are able to have an equal voice, Public Citizen, through its Democracy is for People Campaign, is fighting to establish a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. In addition, we work to advocate for public financing of elections, disclosure of political spending, and other solutions to level the playing field between average voters and the ultra-rich. One of our current campaigns calls on President Obama to issue an executive order to require federal contractors to disclose their political spending.
The right to a trial by jury was a right that the signers of the Declaration of Independence believed was integral to a just society. In fact, the absence of this right was listed as one of the “repeated injuries and usurpations” levied against the English Crown. Today, Public Citizen continues to fight for this right. Many corporations now include forced arbitration clauses in contracts and user agreements in order to prevent customers from holding them accountable in a court of law, including by joining in a class action lawsuit with other harmed individuals. Public Citizen has lead the charge against this harmful practice by encouraging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ban forced arbitration in financial contracts, and advocating for legislation to do the same.
Protection of individual rights against reckless corporations extends to other areas of Public Citizen’s advocacy, such as public health and worker safety laws. Our work ensures consumer product safety, advocates for single-payer healthcare, and strengthens worker safety standards. This work crosses a variety of policy areas, and is essential because a healthy citizenry is necessary for a prosperous political community.
In considering the anniversary of this nation’s Independence Day, Public Citizen and our members are committed to continuing our work in the interests of everyday citizens and our shared democracy. We have seen corporatism erode our ability to hold corporations accountable and we are determined to fight the assaults on consumer rights.
We hope you feel equally committed to the work that we do and all of us at Public Citizen appreciate your continued support.
Happy Fourth of July!
Andrew Gibson is an intern with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division