"They Know We Know It." Get Politicians on the Record About Corruption
"There's another challenge that we must address and it is the corrupting force of the vast sums of money necessary to run for office. The unending chase for money I believe threatens to steal our democracy itself."
No, that's not a quote from the President Obama's State of the Union address. But it is from a recent speech by the newest member of his cabinet: John Kerry.
We both were struck by Kerry's candidness and eloquence on the matter of money in politics as he gave his farewell address to the Senate, where he has spent the last 28 years of his life.
We were so struck, in fact, that we - and our good friends at HuffPost, including Arianna - need your help.
We're calling it the On the Record Project.
We need to get every member of the House and Senate on the record about the force "that threatens to steal our democracy itself."
We can no longer afford to have our public officials remain silent on this crucial issue. They should no longer be allowed to duck it, or to act is if there is no mandate to fix the problem.
In fact, the mandate couldn't be clearer. Year after year, poll after poll has shown that we, the people, are sickened by the way in which money corrodes and corrupts our democracy. In a Gallup poll last July, 87% of us said that reducing government corruption should be an "extremely important" or "very important" priority for the president. It ranked second on a list a dozen - from improving education to strengthening national security -- just below job creation (which came in #1, at 92%).
Corruption. It's a strong word. But that's how vast majorities of us see it, and now Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that we're not nuts: "I've used the word 'corrupting' and I want to be very clear about it. I mean by it not the corruption of individuals but a corruption of a system itself that all of us are forced to participate in against our will: The alliance of money and the interests that it represents, the access that it affords to those who have it at the expense of those who don't, the agenda that it changes or sets by virtue of its power is steadily silencing the voice of the vast majority of Americans who have a much harder time competing or who can't compete at all."
We Americans are not the type of people who have ever allowed our collective voice to be steadily silenced. Other countries may have a higher tolerance for such muting of the masses, but not us. And it's time to speak up, and to get every one of our elected representatives to speak up, too. Do they agree or disagree with 87% of us? Do they think John Kerry's reflections, informed by three decades of service on Capitol Hill, are accurate or not?
To help manage the On the Record Project, HuffPost has set up a system for all of us to help get every member of Congress on the record.
It's simple enough, but will require some guts and persistence to pull it off.
Here's what we need you to do:
Go to a gathering that your representative or senator is attending and ask him/her:
In his farewell speech, John Kerry said that the "unending chase for money" in politics has led to the "corruption" of the political system. He said everyone knows it, but nothing is done. Yet the Supreme Court, with its Citizens United decision, argued that money doesn't corrupt. What is your view on this? Do you believe that the "unending chase for money" has corrupted politics?
Record their answers to both questions on video. Use your cell phone or whatever device you want and then post it with the other videos so that we have an exact record of what they said.