BY DR. BENJAMIN F. CHAVIS, JR.
The growing Occupy the Dream movement for economic equality and empowerment has correctly determined that one of its top priorities is to support passage of a constitutional amendment to make all federal elections publicly financed. The constitutional amendment will be effective in the campaign to confront income inequality and economic injustice that is a direct result of the cruel manipulation of the political process by the 1 percent.
American democracy, especially from the experience and perspective of African-Americans, has always been a reflection of our struggle to get the right to vote.
Impacts us all
This is not just a matter of urgent concern for Black people alone. The systematic denial of the democratic right to equal economic opportunity has already consigned millions of Americans to the severe hardships of unemployment, housing foreclosures, inadequate health care, cynicism, and massive hopelessness. The money-controlled political system that aids and abets the hijacking of American democracy has also led to the apartheid-like disproportionate incarceration of men, women and children.
American democracy is now in serious jeopardy from the political abuse and neglect of the 1 percent who disproportionately control the wealth of the nation. Too many of our elected officials are brought out and paid off to do the regressive bidding of their financial masters.
Democracy is being undermined more each day as a result of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case two years ago permitting corporations to use their money to pay for unlimited broadcasting of game-changing political advertisements. That is why we have to pass the following constitutional amendment:
• Section1. All elections for president and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
• Section 2. The Congress shall, by statue, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Section.
• Section 3. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
• Section 4. This article shall be inoperative unless it is ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in several States, as provided by the Constitution.
Let your congressperson know that you support the legislation. Occupy the Dream, www.occupythedream.org, is mobilizing across the country to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of economic equality for all.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis is senior advisor to the Black Alliance for Educational Options and president of Education Online Services Corporation.