Ordinary Americans are facing hard times. Strange, isn’t it, because the stock market is up, corporate profits are at a record high and the rich are getting richer.
But working people aren’t sharing in this economic good news. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Wages continue to stagnate. Workers haven’t seen a real increase in wages for 40 years. We worry about finding a job, how to help our children go to college and whether we’ll be able to retire.
We need economic justice in our country, and the only way we will get there is with all of us working together in new ways.
A new partnership called the Democracy Initiative is starting to make that happen. Workers, people of faith, community activists, civil rights and immigrant groups, students and many more are coming together to fight for real democracy. We’re partnering with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and National People’s Action to break through the barriers and gain economic and social justice for all.
In small towns and urban communities, we are standing together against banks that are continuing their predatory lending and illegal foreclosures. We are marching for immigration reform. We are standing with miners who have had their retirement security stolen. We are fighting for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and to achieve retirement security for ordinary Americans.
We are asking: Is this what democracy looks like?
Democracy doesn’t look anything like our current election process, which is dominated by corporate America as never before in the history of our nation. More than $7 billion was spent during the last election cycle, an increase of $1 billion over the previous cycle.
This massive amount of spending, overwhelmingly by corporate groups and shadow organizations doing their bidding, was allowed by the disastrous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 called Citizens United. The decision said that corporations are people and are entitled to free speech rights. The decision went on to equate speech with money so these groups can spend millions of dollars — anonymously — to influence elections anywhere in the country.
Iowans are proud of their grass roots involvement in the election process. The system enables citizens to hear directly from the candidates and participate in the caucuses. That citizen involvement is being drowned even here by an obscene flood of money in our democratic process. We must end the corrosive influence of big-money contributions.
Democracy doesn’t look like the obstruction that is the rule in today’s U.S. Senate.
Too many measures, like setting a fair interest rate for student loans or programs for repairing collapsing bridges or protecting consumers from predatory lenders, don’t get a minute’s debate on the floor of what is supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body.
With each day, protections for consumers, the environment, workers and citizens seeking justice in our courts become harder to attain. If the U.S. Senate can’t even debate ideas about climate change and unjust home foreclosures, how will we move forward? Is this what democracy looks like?
The growing attack on voting rights is another block to real democracy. Instead of trying to restrict voting hours and close polling places, we should adopt universal registration, as so many countries have, so that people can exercise their right to vote and not be turned away by a right-wing agenda.
That’s why, whether we’re black, white or brown, young or old, living in a rural community or a big city, we are working together for real change that will build our democracy.
We see all too clearly the barriers that prevent progress for ordinary Americans. But we are aiming high for the democracy and economic and social justice that all of us deserve.
Join the Fight!
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