Washington, D.C., hit near-record high temperatures on Wednesday. But that didn’t discourage more than a hundred dedicated activists from making the two-mile walk from Dupont Circle to the headquarters of Crossroads GPS, one of those outside groups spending millions of dollars to sway the elections. These brave souls were marching to demand that Crossroads co-founder and GOP strategist Karl Rove be held accountable for selling out our democracy to the highest bidder.
As we journeyed together through the streets of our nation’s capital, I heard people talking about lots of different issues—from jobs and retirement to health care and elections. Ultimately, however, most of their grievances boiled down to a single word: fairness. These folks were out in the scorching heat because they believe that American democracy is about every citizen having a voice in government. Not about how many dollars a person (real or corporate) can spend on TV and radio ads.
At our destination, all one had to do was look around to see what real democracy looks like. It’s not the small group of people who were upstairs in an air conditioned room, figuring out how to manipulate voters into favoring the candidates that corporations want in office. Democracy is those who cared about their country enough to brave the heat for a chance to shout in the streets that people, not corporations, should have the power in our system.
Crossroads GPS, along with its sister group, Super PAC American Crossroads, has a stated goal of spending $240 million this election cycle. The Crossroads groups have become a symbol of how corporate money undermines democracy.
So when Public Citizen President Robert Weissman took the bullhorn and asked the assembled crowd whose country this was, they didn’t reply “Chevron” or “Pfizer.” Instead, they triumphantly declared that this is “our country.”
This group of passionate men and women clearly understood the corrupting impact of big money on our political system. When big banks and multinational oil conglomerates help get members of Congress and the president elected, the resulting policies, not surprisingly, are tailored to help those corporate campaign funders. The public is left out. That means our environment is more polluted, our jobs are shipped offshore, our food is less safe, our financial system is not safeguarded from risky speculation and so much more.
Because of its tax status, Crossroads GPS doesn’t have to disclose its donors, which we believe is an abuse of the tax system. So at Public Citizen, we are working hard to make the system more transparent by fighting to pass the DISCLOSE Act and more fair by getting Congress to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. We see these measures as a foundation for returning our democracy back to where it belongs—with the people.
The march made clear that momentum is growing. It’s obvious that those who doubted that Americans would support a constitutional amendment were wrong. Find out how you can take back our democracy by visiting DemocracyIsForPeople.org.