Last week PFAW, in collaboration with more than 60 partners, collected the five millionth petition signature calling for a constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics. This ambitious goal was reached just in time for the 5th anniversary of Citizens United on January 21, a feat that involved extensive coordination on the part of dozens of organizations representing environmental, labor, social and economic justice, business, faith-based groups, as well as other organizations working on issues affected by big money in politics.
The five million petition signatures demonstrate the growing grassroots support for a constitutional amendment. Both the number of petitions and the number of organizations collecting signatures have increased significantly in recent months, an indicator of the growing call for an amendment. In June of 2014, the Senate held a committee hearing on the Democracy for All amendment, at which point two million petition signatures, collected by 12 organizations, were delivered. In September of 2014, when the Senate brought the Democracy for All amendment to the floor for a week of debate, more than three million signatures, collected by 25 organizations, were delivered. And now most recently, by the 5th anniversary of Citizens United last week, more than 60 organizations collaborated to gather over five million petition signatures calling for a constitutional amendment.
Collecting petitions is one small step in what will be a long journey to amend the constitution and create a government of, by and for the people. Passing an amendment was never intended to be easy. The enormous legislative hurdles – approval from 2/3 of Congress and ¾ of the states – makes the Herculean task of passing an amendment seem nearly impossible. Fortunately, the great social movements of American history, such as the women’s suffrage movement and civil rights movement, have proven that it is indeed possible. Women and African Americans winning the right to vote by amending the Constitution demonstrates that when enough people come together and dedicate themselves to righting an injustice, “We the people” are able to enact fundamental reform and change the course of history.
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