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Vision: 8 Ways We're Making America a Better Place -- in Spite of the Disasters Coming out of Washington

We can have the kind of economy, government, environment, and country we want, if we keep pushing, organizing, building, and otherwise doing the work of democracy.

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7. Amend the Constitution.

Amending is not easy to do, though it's hardly impossible (twelve amendments were added in the past century), and it is the definitive way to halt the Court's enthronement of corporate money. Also, the very attempt to amend can be a big positive, for the process educates and enlists people in a historic democratic cause that is worthy of them.

Several pro-amendment coalitions have come together to work on this important issue. FreeSpeechForPeople.org includes Public Citizen, Voter Action, the Center for Corporate Policy, and the American Independent Business Alliance. The MovetoAmend.org coalition includes such groups as the Program on Corporations and Law in Democracy (POCLAD), the Alliance for Democracy, Family Farm Defenders, Reclaim Democracy, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Media and Democracy, and the Liberty Tree Foundation. The coalitions press for a broader approach that would eliminate the fiction of 'corporate personhood,' explicitly stating that only humans are persons with constitutional rights. MoveOn.org, Common Cause, People for the American Way, and other groups are also working on this issue.

8. Clean Elections.

Long overdue, this would bring the public financing alternative (which a growing number of states and cities have successfully implemented) to all Congressional elections. Maine, North Carolina, Arizona, and New Mexico are among the pioneers of this system, which disarms the corrupt, pay-to-play lobbyists by giving candidates the ability to forego the corporate campaign funds that influence peddlers dole out in exchange for legislative favors. This is a game-changing, structural reform that works, which is why it's getting vehement opposition from Republicans and only lip service from the Obamacans.

Despite this, the idea is on the move. Thanks to a grassroots coalition organized through FixCongressFirst.org and to a national network of clean election experts and organizers called PublicCampaign.org, the Fair Elections Now Act is moving through Congress. It has over 25 co-sponsors in the Senate and 160 co-sponsors in the House. The bill made it out of a House committee last month.

Shine Where You Are

The message here is simple: we can have the kind of economy, government, environment, and country we want... IF we keep pushing, organizing, building, and otherwise doing the work of democracy. Producing change we really can believe in is up to us--not to Obama or the Democratic Party. They are not the progressive movement, we are.

It's never easy to confront the corporate order, to challenge the moneyed powers. As Henrik Ibsen instructed us long ago: "Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth."

But fight we must, for freedom, truth, justice, and democracy don't just happen. We The People have to produce them. The good news is that even when the national political scene momentarily darkens, we can be thankful for the thousands of candles, torches, and other lights beaming with such promise all across the country, lit by people like you. In fact, you're probably already one of those hopeful beams, so we're thankful for you, too. If not, become one, and join with others to keep America's grassroots shining bright.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the new book, " Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow ." (Wiley, March 2008) He publishes the monthly " Hightower Lowdown ," co-edited by Phillip Frazer.

 
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