Working for change in the shadows

Opinion: Columns

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Terry Grace

During the close of the recent legislative session in Springfield, there was a beacon of light on the last day. Thanks to the efforts of a lot of good people, the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 27. It made Illinois the 14th state to go on the record asking our U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The 2010 Citizens United decision has resulted in SuperPACs, billionaires, and 501(c)(4)s pouring billions of dollars into political campaigns. The CU decision dramatically tilted the political playing field.

The passage of SJR 27 was an example of committed people working collaboratively for an objective, with the support of some good politicians. Yes, they do exist — on both sides of the aisle! (Our cause is non-partisan.) State Sen. Don Harmon was very helpful in steering it through the Illinois Senate. Many supportive politicians are committed to a fairer, more representative government than we are
now experiencing.

What does this mean? Well, how do you feel about the gridlock and dysfunction we are experiencing in our government? Are your interests being addressed? In my judgment, our government is being strangled by the unquenchable desire for campaign $$$! Due to the 2010 Citizens United decision, campaign finance limits were almost eliminated. Now powerful corporations and the SuperRich can only be countered by millions of involved citizens. Countering all this $$$ is almost impossible in House elections or elections at the state or local levels. SJR 27 strongly supports a major effort for serious campaign finance reform that will give government at all levels the opportunity to function for the benefit of "We the People," and not just for the extremely wealthy and very powerful interests!

Twelve states have passed resolutions of support for this movement, and Colorado and Montana passed state-wide referenda. Several hundred cities, towns, and other government units have also passed similar resolutions or referenda in support of overturning Citizens United. Oak Park passed a strong referendum with 85+ percent support. New York, L.A., Atlanta, Portland, and Chicago along with many others, have all passed resolutions. This is a large and rapidly growing national movement involving many organizations.

So what has all of this growth and effort of our movement gotten us in coverage from the media? Zilch! When Chicago passed a strong resolution by unanimous consent earlier this year, most of our own members had no idea it had happened. Why? The announcement appeared in media snippets of maybe two sentences in a few small publications or for a few seconds on a couple of small radio stations. Our primary source of media has been our own social media, e-mail, and letters to the editor. Larger media sources have ignored this movement.

One can only speculate as to the reason for this news blackout of what is a fairly large, growing national movement. My guess is two-fold:

  1. Campaign advertising stimulated by the Citizens United decision has been a financial windfall for the large media sources.
  2. Most larger media resources are owned by large corporate conglomerates, and they do not want to see their power and influence diminished. The outcome has been that our movement is toiling in obscurity.

Educating the public about our concerns is difficult. The issues are nuanced and complex. The apparent news blackout continues, but we are not going away. The coalition that worked for passage of SJR 27 included Move To Amend, Move On, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Illinois PIRG, and others. We are committed to this cause because until campaign finance issues are effectively resolved, every other political issue is over-powered by the influence of money. We feel our country and its freedoms are for all of "We the People," not just the select few.

Oak Park resident Terry Grace is coordinator of Near West Suburban Move To Amend.

Reader Comments

8 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Shirley Lundin from Indian Head Park, IL  

Posted: July 3rd, 2013 11:12 AM

Hurrah for Terry! A recent analysis of Citizens United* indicates that about 15% of all federal spending in the recent election was channeled by anonymous groups or unlimited donations authorized by the SCOTUS decision. Both Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens dissented. The decision was a huge mistake and has nothing to do with George Soros. Thank you for fighting for this amendment, Terry. Maybe it's time for a major newspaper to do some editorializing. (*Reference can be supplied.)

rj  

Posted: June 30th, 2013 5:58 PM

Terry, Sorry no conspiracy here- Mr Ryerson & I are not one & the same. My previous comments are indeed facts, no paranoia here. You far out leftists are now the fringe as more & more people realize this country is clearly being manipulated by a select few for a select few. The fact that you bemoan 'super rich' & Soros is the Dems 'super rich' puppetmaster is another example of leftist hypocrisy. Drop the talking points & start facing reality, lest you clearly belong in the useful idiot camp.

Terry Grace  

Posted: June 30th, 2013 1:34 PM

rj, interesting way of avoiding identification--although I suspect you may be the Mr. Ryerson who commented earlier. Your conspiracy theories are most unique, and not fact-based. I'm thinking your information sources are Glenn Beck and similar ilk of irrationality. It's unfortunate that this kind of paranoid discourse is so prominent in our country at this time. It used to be isolated on the fringes. You will believe what you choose to believe, but rest assured, naive, I'm not.

rj  

Posted: June 29th, 2013 2:23 PM

Terry, An apt title- "working for change in the shadows" - you are very naive or approve of the George Soros Foundation Network at the helm of his Shadow Democratic Party via his Open Society Institute. He's dispensed more than $5B to labor unions, non profit activist groups & 'think' tanks whose agenda is to transform our Constitutional Republic into a cesspool of socialism. Of course you have the support of Soros' MoveOn. Laughable the problem is not Citizens United or the Kochs. It's Soros.

Bob Innocenzi  

Posted: June 29th, 2013 10:40 AM

I certainly do agree that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision should be overturned, but I do realize this extends to pubic employee unions as well as Big Corporations. Of course public employee unions have nothing near the money and resources of Big Corporations.

Terry Grace from Oak Park  

Posted: June 28th, 2013 1:34 PM

Mr. Ryerson makes some very large assumptive leaps in his comment that felt rather stereotypical of a right-wing knee-jerk response with all the depth of a shallow puddle. Somehow, Mr. R was able to overlook that our movement is non-partisan. That we sought, and obtained bi-partisan support in both the House and the Senate. We had co-sponsors from BOTH parties. Lastly, our movement DOES include the regulation of union money in elections. As usual, more blather, huh, Mr. R.

Theresa  

Posted: June 27th, 2013 2:51 PM

Thanks for taking the time to write this article Terry, another example of democracy requiring us to not sit back and wait for something to happen, or for someone else to do the hard work of learning about an issue. I hope that what people take away from this is that individuals are making this happen, not unions, not well funded think tanks. Take the time to register to vote, and stay as informed as possible. It is worth it.

ned ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: June 27th, 2013 12:15 PM

This article would have more credibility if in addition to corporations; it mentioned public employee unions. So, instead of a genuine plea, we get talking points from the left about how the rich and powerful hold sway over the American electorate. What blather.

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