American Life Featured Contributors

Growing Grassroots Groups

Citizens United
Written by Cindy A Matthews


With so much attention focused on inconsequential things such as presidential debates (minus all but two of the candidates), Americans often forget that real change is instituted not from the top down, but from the bottom up. Bernie Sanders emphasized this point repeatedly during his campaign rallies. “Not Bernie Sanders, not any president can change things–only you can,” was perhaps his most consistent talking point. We are the political revolution–not the establishment candidates who spend hundreds of millions of dollars on negative TV and radio commercials, online advertising, and trolling. We the people are the only group who can make lasting positive changes to our corrupt system.

And so Bernie’s dream grassroots organization was born. Our Revolution has thrived in its early months and recently raised over $2 million in one week, for progressive candidates running for a variety of down ticket offices. It is sponsoring landmark legislation in Colorado to bring universal health care to all people in the state, regardless of income or pre-existing conditions. It is helping to bring pharmaceutical pricing under control in California. The power of the people is strong and, when our energy is focused where it can make the biggest difference, it often does.

Our local chapter, Our Revolution in Northwest Ohio, has been busy, lately, as well. There are so many things in need of change in our area. The breadth of the actions proposed are fascinating. The following are two examples.

Working against big money in politics (essentially dismantling the Citizens United ruling on a state-by-state basis) is the Move to Amend organization in the Toledo area. Move to Amend says corporations aren’t people and don’t have the same rights as human beings, such as free speech. Similar initiatives have been passed in over 30 separate municipalities, so far.

A particularly-gratifying part of the Toledo Move to Amend initiative is that the mayor and the city council must hold a “Democracy Day” hearing each year, where citizens can voice their complaints against big money in politics and government.  The mayor must then write and sign a letter summarizing the citizens’ concerns about the abuse of big money and present it their elected representatives in Congress, whether she/he agrees with the people or not. It will emphasize the need for a U.S. constitutional amendment outlawing the Citizens United ruling, once and for all.

Toledoans for Safe Water is drafting a charter amendment to the city’s charter that states all residents have the right to safe drinking water. Those corporations, businesses or individuals who are found to be polluting the city’s water supply can be held accountable for their actions and forced to pay fines and enact remediation to clean the water they’ve polluted. Toledo’s water supply comes from Lake Erie, which made international news two summers ago when a toxic algae bloom effectively shut down the area’s water supply. Drinking water for a half million people had to be trucked in for a considerable period of time. (Flint, Michigan isn’t the only US city with a sketchy water supply. These two cases are just the tip of the iceberg.)

Since Lake Erie is part of the Great Lakes system and borders Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well the Canadian province of Ontario, there are tens of millions of people who deserve a voice in protecting their water supply from polluters. Similar “rights of nature” laws have been passed in other countries to protect natural resources and the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights” may become the first of many in North America.

These examples are but two of many local progressive grassroots actions happening. Think of how many others are taking place, or will take place soon, all across America! Far from being powerless, we the people have the capabilities to tackle the issues nearest and dearest to us, such as the right of proper representation in government without the influence of big money and the right to clean water supplies.

Together we can create a better world. No amount of buffoonery or warmonger debate demagoguery can take away our vision for a future to believe in. And with the help of the Green Party in the White House, we can be assured there will be a better tomorrow. As Dr. Jill Stein says, “It’s in our hands.”


Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues–The Bernie Blog:

Photo Credit:  Susan Montgomery /

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Cindy A Matthews

Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of The Bernie Blog.