Political Corruption Activism Opportunities

  • Demand Modernized Elections and Restore the VRA via @BrennanCenter

    It turns out FDR was wrong when he said “nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except themselves.” This year, 16 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election that disproportionately impact seniors, people of color, young people, and low-income individuals.

    16 million registered voters in the US don’t have the current government-issued ID needed to vote. In Texas alone, more than 600,000 registered voters won’t be able to cast a ballot. In just a few years, we’ve cut more than 5% of the US population out of our democratic process, and the vast impact of these new voter suppression laws are probably why 69% of Americans are actually against voter ID laws.

    We’re even making things difficult for those who actually can vote. Our antiquated election system causes long, discouraging wait times, and 43 states have voting machines more than a decade old - practically relics in the tech years. 

    To remedy our broken democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice outlines 8 detailed actions to fix our system, including overturning Citizens United, establishing small donor public financing, ending partisan gerrymandering and restoring the right to vote for those with past criminal convictions. We know you’re already working on those things, so here is today’s activism focus: 

    1. Restore the Voting Rights Act by telling your legislators to pass the Rights Amendment Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act, both currently in front of them, to stop voter suppression laws and redistricting.
    2. Tell your legislators that you demand a modern election system.

    A modernized election system would include allowing automatic and secure voter registration for every eligible voter when they interact with state government agencies (with an option to decline), offering online voter registration, allowing people to register or update their information at the polls, replacing outdated voting machines, and expanding early voting. This isn’t earth shaking stuff. In fact, bills that will launch automatic voter registration just passed in West Virginia and Vermont, and Illinois and Maryland are considering voter reform proposals right now. 

    So, if making sure America is actually a democracy is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about how to Demand Modernized Elections and Restoring the Voting Rights Act via social media so that others in your network can spread the word too.

    Let’s fight like our right to vote depends on it, because sadly it does. 



    Contact your legislators to demand modernized elections and urge them to vote for the Rights Amendment Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the Voting Rights Act. 

    Sign the Brennan Center for Justice’s change.org petition “Tell Congress it’s time to Automatically Register Every American to Vote.”

    Follow @BrennanCenter on Twitter for the latest updates on public policy and issues of democracy and justice.

    Sources/Further Reading: 

    The Brennan Center for Justice Election 2016 (via the Brennan Center)

    Restore the Voting Rights Act (via the Brennan Center)

    Wanted: 21st Century Elections (via the Brennan Center)

    Modernize Voter Registrations (via the Brennan Center)

    Why is it so hard to vote in America? And what can we do to fix it? (via the Brennan Center)

    Voting Laws Roundup 2016 (via the Brennan Center)

    Hear the Segment in Context: 

    Episode #1009: "Battle for the Ballot" (Voting Rights)

    Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

  • The Call for a Voting Renaissance and Mass Non-violent Mobilization to Stand Up to Trump via @MoveOn

    First we thought it was a publicity stunt or maybe an art project. Then we told ourselves no one would vote for him and laughed at his absurdity. But then one day we woke up to find that he is the clear front runner for the Republican Presidential Nomination.

    Donald Trump - the crass, loud-mouth, reality TV show star/fascist - now has a real shot at becoming the next president of the United States, and it’s not funny anymore. From the moment he began his campaign, Trump’s hateful rhetoric has stoked the embers of racism, bigotry, violence, fascism, misogyny, and xenophobia in our country and brought a full fledged fire of hatred roaring back to life.

    This week, MoveOn.org, in collaboration with other progressive organizations, published an open letter to the American public on medium.com calling for a movement of citizens to unite in standing up to Trump’s hateful and dangerous rhetoric, saying…

    “We cannot afford to underestimate him until it’s too late, as many Republicans now regret having done during the primaries. If we wait to see how things shake out to make our plans, it’ll be too late and November will come sooner than anyone thinks.”

    MoveOn is calling for three types of local and personal actions to stop Trump:

    1) Non-violent mobilization and organizing against his hate rhetoric in your city streets, on social media, or in letters to the editor.

    2) Asking every media outlet, corporation, and office-holder — from the school board on up to Congress and from your local news up to cable news — to condemn Trump’s racism, misogyny and xenophobia that was born out of an environment they helped create.

    3) A voting renaissance to stop Trump and build an even more powerful progressive majority, an effort that requires massive volunteer power to door-knock, phone bank and have real conversations with all types of voters.  

    The open letter concludes by saying, “If we stand together in this moment across movements and build together we will not only stop Trump, but continue to create a country that protects and respects the dignity and humanity of all people and allows us all to prosper and thrive.”

    The segment notes include all the links to the letter and related information, as well as additional resources, and, as always, this and every activism segment we produce is archived and organized under the activism tab at Best of the Left dot com. So, if standing up to fascism is of at least a passing interest to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about this campaign’s call to action via social media so that others in your network can get involved too. 

    If we stand-up together we have the power to make Donald Trump the thing he hates the most — a loser. Now that would really be “terrific.”




    Read, sign and share MoveOn.org's open letter.

    Follow @MoveOn on Twitter for the latest updates on the campaign and other actions to stand up to Trump's dangerous rhetoric.

    Use the hashtags #LoveTrumpsHate and #STOPTRUMP on social media. 

    Donate to the MoveOn.org "Stand Up to Trump" campaign to support their efforts. 

    Sources/further reading:

    Democrats Sound Alarm Against Trump (via Politico)

    Liberal Groups to Launch Campaign to Defeat Donald Trump (via USA Today)

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #999 http://www.bestoftheleft.com/_999_fascism

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.

  • Democracy Awakening - Nationwide Mobilization to Protect the Vote via @DemAwakening

    For the better part of the 20th century we saw barriers to citizens’ voting rights knocked down, but so far the 21st century has been all about putting them back up. This country is now blatantly suppressing the voting rights of people of color, seniors, students, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, and low-income Americans, and has stripped any remaining power from those who actually can exercise their vote thanks to big money. 

    If we want to change the course of this century, then we have to demand action now.  

    This April 16th to 18th, join Democracy Awakening 2016 - a nationwide movement that will converge on state capitals and Washington, D.C. for an array of actions, including demonstrations, teach-ins, direct action trainings, music, a Rally for Democracy, and pressing for a Congress of Conscience through non-violent direct action and advocacy.

    Watch and share the official Democracy Awakening video:

    Democracy Awakening is mobilizing to demand a nation where voting rights are protected and the integrity of the vote is not undermined by big money. Your actions will support reform measures to restore previously struck-down protections against voting discrimination, update the Voting Rights Act of 1965, modernize voter registration, and prevent deceptive practices keeping people from voting, just to name a few. You will also be fighting for “The Democracy for all Amendment”  - a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and allow elected representatives to set commonsense limits on money in elections. 

    Sign up to take part in and/or volunteer for this nationwide mobilization at democracyawakening.org.

    Fighting for every voice to be heard and every vote to be counted is as American as apple pie, so don’t get complacent - get angry and get your voice back. Remember, it’s only a democracy if it works for everyone.



    Visit democracyawakening.org to sign up as a volunteer to help organize this event or to participate in April. 

    Follow @DemAwakening on Twitter and on Facebook for the latest updates on the campaign. 

    Engage with the movement to restore the Voting Rights Act via #RestoretheVRA on social media.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Voting Rights - and Wrongs: We're in the midst of the biggest rollback of the rights to vote since Jim Crow" (via Sojourners)

    "North Carolina Exemplifies National Battles Over Voting Laws" (via The New York Times)

    "Six Pieces of a Real Democracy Movement We've Never Had Before" (via HuffPost Politics)


    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #998 http://www.bestoftheleft.com/_998_voting_rights

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.

  • #DemocracySpring - March and Sit-in to Save Democracy via @DemSpring

    Today’s activism: Democracy Spring - a march and sit-in of historic proportions to save our democracy.

    If you’re sick and tired of big money holding our democracy hostage, get involved with Democracy Spring. This isn’t an ask to sign a petition or to call your congress-person (though, keep doing those things), this campaign has the potential to be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation. 

    This April 2nd, thousands will come together to march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, to the U.S Capitol in Washington DC, where a peaceful massive sit-in will take place April 11th-16th to... 

    “...demand a Congress that will take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.”

    According to Democracy Spring, over 2,000 people have already pledged to risk arrest. A coalition of over 50 organizations are working together to lead this effort and will provide necessary training and legal support to all who join. 

    Getting money out of politics is not just a progressive issue - this is perhaps the one issue that brings people together across ideological divides. Working together to fix this problem is how we heal from the fractured, polarized world we currently live in. It’s time to take action! 



    Visit democracyspring.org to sign up as a volunteer to help organize this event, pledge your participation in April, or donate. 

    Follow @DemSpring on Twitter for the latest updates on the campaign. 

    Engage with the campaign via #DemocracySpring on social media.

    Donate to support the campaign at democracyspring.org/donate

    Questions? Visit the Democracy Spring FAQ page

    Sources/further reading:

    "Open Letter: Let's Sit-in to Save Democracy from the Billionaire Class" via The Nation 


    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #996 http://www.bestoftheleft.com/_996_heart_of_dark_money_money_in_politics 

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.

  • Stamp Money Out Of Politics w/@BenAndJerrys @StampStampede — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Stamp Money Out Of Politics with Ben and Jerrys.

    Ben & Jerry have created a fantastically simple tool for building popular support to fight money in politics: they’re putting the message right on their money.

    In an op-ed for CNN, they explained why they Stamp Stampede as only a pair of ice-cream connoisseur could:

    "Democracy is the triple-deluxe droolworthy idea that the people can govern and be governed in turn, that We the People are the author and the subject of the law. In America, it's the idea that we can elect representatives who will rise above self-interest and work on behalf of the common good. We need a stampede to rout the special interests who have corralled Congress. And that's what we're doing.”

    At StampStampede.org you can buy your stamps with phrases like "Not to be used for bribing politicians" and "Stamp money out of politics.” Then, you just start labeling your money — a practice which is completely legal and outlined on the website for those concerned about defacing federal property. A quick scan of the guidelines before deploying your stamp will also make sure you’re marking a part of the bill that won’t get it flagged by the Federal Reserve's and put out of circulation.

    You can even get stamps with messages that support some of Stamp Stampede's partner organizations like WolfPAC and People For The American Way or tailor your message to address your specific concerns.

    Stamp Stampede has a tumblr of people — some of them famous and even some legislators — posing with their newly labeled money and with already labeled dollars that they’ve received from the bank or as change. You can post yours to social media or send it to Stamp Stampede using the hashtag #GetMoneyOut.

    This may sound like a very small act, but it’s a powerful one. The CNN op-ed laid out some pretty impressive numbers:

    "The average dollar exchanges hands 875 times. That means if a thousand people stamp one dollar a day for a year, the message would be seen more than 300 million times. If 10,000 people do it, the message would be seen more than 3 billion times.”

    Stamp Stampede can already boast having over 60,000 participants. If just a fraction of Best of the Left listeners joined in, we could put the effort to overturn Citizens United in people’s hands billions of times in 2016.


    Get your stamps/get involved with: Stamp Stampede

    Share your marked money with: StampStampede’s social media feeds

    Follow the #GetMoneyOutthread

    Sources/further reading:

    "Here's How Ben & Jerry's Co-Founder Wants To Stamp Money Out Of Politics” via Huffington Post

    "Stamp stampede on your dollar -- for democracy” by Ben & Jerry

    "Stamp Money Out of Politics – STAMP STAMPEDE” via Democracy Matters

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #977 "Legal corruption and how to fix it (Money in Politics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Automatic Voter Registration via @BrennanCenter — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Automatic Voter Registration.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have enacted new voting restrictions in the last five years. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election.

    As these voter disenfranchisements have spread, however, a handful of states are attempting to expand access to the ballot. Oregon passed automatic voter registration in March and California followed suit last week. New Jersey’s legislature sent their bill to the governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.

    After Governor Jerry Brown signed the law, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla tweeted an obvious, but apparently necessary declaration: “Democracy is stronger when more citizens can vote!”

    As voting rights guru Ari Berman reported at The Nation this week:

    "You’d think that would be a truism in a democracy, but unfortunately far too many states under Republican control have enacted new laws making it harder to vote in recent years. From 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states...It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a quarter of Americans–51 million citizens–are not registered to vote. Let’s hope more states follow the model of California.”

    There is a push — lead by the Brennan Center — for national automatic voter registration. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced The Automatic Voter Registration Act this summer and 45 cosponsors have signed on in support. There are also a number of bills circulating through state legislatures that would eliminate the barrier of having to affirmatively register to vote.

    Voter expansion has leaked into the presidential race with candidate Hillary Clinton calling for widespread reform and criticizing republican candidates for supporting restrictions. Right now is THE time to raise awareness and push the issue on a national level.

    You can find the full list of bills in the Brennan Center’s "Automatic Voter Registration” post which is part of their “Voting Rights and Elections” section of the “Issues” tab at BrennanCenter.org, or by clicking the link in the segment notes. Use ContactingTheCongress.org to drop your national representatives a note asking them to support The Automatic Voter Registration Act and find your state reps at OpenStates.Org to support voter expansion where you live.


    Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws

    Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation

    "Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times

    "Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill

    "Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal

    "Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times

    "Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #961 "Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #WeWantDebate in #Election2016 via @Lessig2016 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Let Lessig Debate.

    If you haven’t heard — and with the media blackout you likely haven’t, Lawrence Lessig is running for president. He’s running on a single issue: campaign reform. He’s said that he wants to hold office for a very brief period of time, telling U.S. News & World Report: "My vice president, I want to be president as soon as possible.”

    Lessig’s plan would be to enact election reform within the first year and then turn the office over to his running mate, but he’s resisting the term “protest candidate.” He wants to run and win, calling Congress “the fundamental weakness in our democracy,” largely because of political corruption.

    Lessig would make voter registration automatic, get rid of photo I.D. requirements and change Election Day to a weekend for better accessibility. He would also restructure congressional elections by creating multi-member districts and restricting government officials’ ability to become lobbyists.

    He’s certainly not the only person who thinks that no other issue is solvable until there’s a radical fix to the system that doesn’t just allow candidates to be purchased, but demands they spend at least as much time fundraising as governing just to stay in office. However, despite a fast start to his campaign, Lessig is not likely to be allowed in the Democratic debates.

    You can sign his campaign's “Let Lessig Debate" petition at Lessig2016.us to let the Democratic National Committee and corporate media know you want the democratic debates to be, well, democratic. Lessig spoke at the New Hampshire Party Convention along with the other candidates and he’s raised over $1 million in under a month from close to 10,000 people — surely there is room for his voice in the debates.

    It’s unlikely that without Lessig’s presence, the foundational issue of election reform will be addressed at all. So, whether you would support him as the nominee or not, take the time to sign the petition at Lessig2016.us to ensure that the other candidates and the media cannot ignore our broken system.


    SIGN the petition: Let Lessig Debate! from the Lessig2016 campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Democrat Debate Controversy: Will Lawrence Lessig Be Included?” via Forbes

    "Larry Lessig Seeks A Single Issue, Single Year Presidency” via U.S.News and World Report

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #957 "Citizens demanding equal power (Money in politics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: MayDay PAC's #Leaders4Reform.

    Last year, in order to change how our elections are funded, Lawrence Lessig launched “the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — MayDay.US. He was shrugged off by mainstream press and his grand idea seemed impossible even to those who hoped he would succeed.

    Then something incredible happened.

    "We raised the initial $1 million in 13 days, rather than 30," Lessig wrote at Medium. "That was matched two weeks later, and then we launched the second campaign. Thirty days after that, we crossed the $5 million mark...By the end of our campaign, we had raised $11 million of the $12 million that we had planned, with more than 50,000 donors from almost every state in the union.”

    When that monetary success didn’t translate into wins in the voting booth in November, Lessig decided to relaunch with the goal of winning over current members of the House and Senate in order to pass legislation now. With a bill introduced in the Senate and 151 of the 218 House members needed to guarantee a reform majority, that goal looks increasingly within reach.

    At MayDay.US you can contribute to the momentum of identifying leaders for reform and support the Fair Elections Now Act, Senator Dick Durbin’s bill which has added twenty co-sponsors less than a month after being introduced.

    From the MayDay.US home page you can record a voice message in support of reform legislation which MayDay will deliver to key members of Congress, call your representatives directly using their handy script, view the full list of Leaders for Fundamental Reform, and encourage those not yet signed on to join the fight via social media using the hashtag #Leaders4Reform.

    MayDay still plans to target and support pro-reform candidates for Congress next year; they simply aren’t sitting on their hands in the meantime. Lessig’s ability to adapt and continue with their mission is just one more reason to support the work MayDay is doing.


    S.1538 - Fair Elections Now Act

    Follow-up/new Action: #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS

    Leave a message for Congress: Citizen Recording Studio

    Build a bigger #Leaders4Reform coalition: Call your representatives

    Sources/additional glimmers of hope:

    "The 'Super PAC to End Super PACs' Makes a Strategic Retreat” at Bloomberg Politics

    "We tried. We learned. We’re trying something new: Mayday.US, v2” by Lawrence Lessig

    "Frodo Baggins for President” by Lawrence Lessig

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #937 "Making progress on our biggest problem (Money in Politics)"

    Revisit the original action/segment:

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Real Representative Democracy via @FairVote - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Real Representative Democracy — FairVote.org.

    Our country's election process is broken. No one listening to this podcast needed election 2014’s mixed results or record low voter turn out to persuade them that our democracy’s fundamental tenet could use a tune-up. World War II was raging last time we had turn out this low and certainly a lack of trust in the system is contributing to the apathy epidemic.

    But what if we could give American democracy an upgrade? That’s the optimistic — yet entirely feasible — goal of the organization Fair Vote.

    According to FairVote.org, their mission "advances systemic electoral reform to achieve a fully participatory and truly representative democracy that respects every vote and every voice in every election...We promote ranked choice voting (“instant runoff”), a constitutionally protected right to vote, a national popular vote for president, and, most fundamentally, fair representation voting forms of proportional representation.”

    They’ve already succeeded in getting enough jurisdictions to pass legislation supporting a popular vote for the president to equal almost two-thirds of the electoral votes needed to win the White House — an accomplishment that makes Fair Vote’s next set of concrete goals seem within reach.

    “Representation 2020” seeks gender parity in elected representation. Women only make up 18% of Congress and hold under a quarter of state legislative seats — a stat that puts the U.S. well behind Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, China and Vietnam. We rank 80th in female elected officials — which should be a source of national embarrassment.

    And the “Reform 2020” campaign seeks to end gerrymandering, make voting an explicit Constitutional right, bring about a national popular vote for the presidency and uphold voter choice and majority rule through ranked choice voting.

    Run off voting is already implemented in San Francisco and Oakland, California; Portland, Maine; and Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. None of these city legislatures fell apart when ballot accommodations were made to make room for third party and independent candidates with built-in back-up selections for cautious voters. Even as a push for reforms nationally moves slowly but steadily, this is particular democracy enhancement is one you can demand of your local city councils and state houses.

    Get involved by supporting the Fair Vote’s goals for 2020, following FairVote on social media and spreading the word about election reform, tracking pending legislation, and signing their periodic petitions.

    Don’t let your anger at the broken system keep you home on election day. Instead, use it as motivation to make our democracy stronger and fight to reduce apathy by getting us closer to having every vote count and be counted.


    Get involved with Fair Vote

    Follow FairVote on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Reform 2020

    Representation 2020

    Sources/further reading:

    "Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest since WWII” via The Washington Post

    "The Gender Gap: Percentage of Women in Government Worldwide. We're Number One, Right? Not So Much…” via Daily Kos

    ”Jim Crow Returns: millions of minority voters threatened by electoral purge by Greg Palast at Al Jazeera America

    Watch: Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) on Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture discussing #Election2014 result reliability.

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #877 "Hair of the dog (Election)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

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