Faith In Ohio Briefing Book (rough draft)

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Faith In Ohio Briefing Book (rough draft)

Text of Faith In Ohio Briefing Book (rough draft)

  • Briefing Book

  • About Faith In Ohio

    Faith in Ohio is a faith-based, statewide, political organizing campaign.

    Wealthy individuals and corporations control our politics. Only the faith community has the organized power to return elections to the people. Our citizen-initiated constitutional amendment will finance elections through public vouchers$50 for every registered voter to distribute to any candidates, political parties, or initiatives of their choice. Once passed, public financing will overtake corrupt private financing by a 3:1 margin.

    Our Institutional Partners We seek to assemble institutional leadership from the following good government, community, and faith organizations:

    RootStrikers Common Cause Ohio Ohio Prophetic Voices Ohio Organizing Collaborative Our Faith, Our Vote EL@M (Election Law at Moritz) Greater Cleveland Congregations B.R.E.A.D. Congregations (Columbus) Toledans United for Social Action First Church Columbus Vermilion United Church of Christ Congregational Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative Northeast Ohio Alliance of Hope (NOAH) The AMOS Project (Cincinnati Congregations)

  • Democracy Resurrected

    Government shapes our world. But we cannot shape our government.

    We've reached the tipping point:

    Two-thirds of our world suffers in poverty And our planet is being destroyed.

    Yet we cannot imagine controlling this system.

    Out of control, we dull our fear. Disempowered, we become apathetic.

    Apathetic, we become ignorant. Communing as one body-- Hope emerges.

    Organizing, we awaken our power. Empowered, we declare ownership. Responsible, we buy back elections. Financed, politicians need our blessing.

    Liberated, we beacon the world.

    Our Faith In Ohio Is God's Grace, finally manifest in politics.

  • Table of Contents 4 Introduction to Faith In Ohio 5-6 Democracy: A Beautiful Myth 7 Donor-Centered Democracy 8 The Money Primary: Crux of American Power 9 Protesting Corruption Denies the Deeper Crisis 10 The True Illness of Our Democracy: Dread 11 Civic Liberation 12 Faith In Ohios Political/Spiritual Solution 13-14 The Amendment: Publicly Financed Elections 15-18 Assessing the Amendments Impact 19 The Plan to Pass the Amendment 20 Organizing Plan 21 Will Citizens Rise to the Occasion? 22 Organizing Philosophy 23 Leadership Development 24 Leader Responsibilities 25 Faith In Ohio Agape Meal Services 26 Our Faith In OhioHope for Democracy 27 Works Cited: Our Intellectual Foundation

  • Introduction to Faith In Ohio Faith In Ohios vision is democracy resurrected. Democratic resurrection requires legislative and spiritual


    Legislatively, we will amend the Constitution of Ohio to create publicly financed elections. Our historic Voter-Centered Democracy Amendment will make Ohio the first state in America to publicly fund elections with vouchers$50 for every registered voter to distribute to any candidates, political parties, or initiatives of their choice. Once passed, public financing will overwhelm private financing by a 3:1 margin.

    To pass our Constitutional amendment we are appealing directly to voters. We are organizing 1,000 leaders from Ohio faith communities and collegescollecting 500,000 signaturesto put a citizen-initiated amendment on the March 2016 statewide ballot. Campaign finance reform is not enough to build a true democracy. A deeper spiritual illness plagues our politics. Voters are in despair over the state of politics. And our despair has made us ignorant and apathetic. We have disconnected, not because we actually cannot effect political change, but because we feel that we cannot change politics. So, even more important than our legislative action, we seek to build civic spirituality in Ohio. Through this civic spirituality, citizens experience communion via political engagement. Political communion is a new practice of love, whereby we graciously extend our gifts throughout our whole body politic. Within this state of communion, we realize a civic power we never knew we possessed.

    Once empowered over the electoral process, we hope voters extend our civic communion: to economic, education, environmental, and health reform.

    Our model of voter-centered democracy will be a beacon of hope to the rest of our nation and the world.

  • Democracy: A Beautiful Myth As Americans, we are born into a profoundly spiritual

    understanding of democracy. The American Revolution, the dawn of modern Democracy, was inspired by a shockingly idealistic democratic vision. Mocked for his naivet, Thomas Jefferson struck the a devastating blow to political cynicism.

    At Americas birth, Jefferson declared that democracy is a political expression of Gods Grace: A civic order rooted in our shared spiritual experience of equality, freedom, and happiness.

    Millions of Americans have given their lives trying to make this inspired declaration a reality.

    Yet, the birth of American democracy was only possible because we were radically idealistic and relentlessly realistic. The brilliance of our founders was their realization that true democracy is an elusive mythour societys most noble spiritual aspiration, which can never be fully realized. In fact, the Declaration of Independences soaring idealism is only meaningful because it is balanced by our Constitutions grounded realisma fearless recognition of our inherent political sinfulness.

    Human nature is such that every individuals political efforts are always self-serving. The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr described the self-corrupting nature of individuals in democracy: The disposition to hid self-interest behind the faade of pretended devotion to values transcending self-interest is well-near universal. Man is a curious creature with so strong a sense of obligation to his fellows that he cannot pursue his own interests without pretending to serve his fellow men. To successfully acquire power, political agents must become experts at concealing self-interest in this way. The Federalist Papers, the bedrock of our Constitution, argue that a successful democracy must assume all political behaviors proceed from the sort of subtle corruption Niebuhr describes.

    So the structure of a smart democracy will force political actors to serve the public interest in order to serve their own interest.

  • Our Constitution was infused with many practical measureslike the separation of powersaimed at accomplishing just this end. But in the 18th century, our founding fathers could not anticipate how campaign finance would become the primary means by which political power is exercised. So, in the 21st century, it is incumbent upon us to follow our Founders example and reform campaign finance in such a way that politicians can only serve their own interesti.e. getting electedby serving the publics interest.

    To blame Americas democratic impurities wholly on corrupt politicians and corrupt special interests, though, is nave. In fact, our democracy has a much deeper problem than corruption.

    The hard truth is that democracy has never really existed anywhere in the world. Nowhere has an entire citizenry ever built up enough civic capitalbroad-based public knowledge and civic activismto run a real democracy. We falsely idealize democratic pastslike early America or ancient Greecewhich were, more accurately, a small collection of elite individuals pretending to represent the broader public interest. Just the sort of false democracy we have today.

    The monumental task of empowering the broader public to meaningfully exercise democracy has never occurred in human history. As political philosopher Roberto Unger describes, What we have around us is not a system founded on a rational plan. It is not a machine, built according to a blueprint we are able only partly to divine. It is just an institutional and ideological settlement, a partial and temporary interruption of fighting, a compromise not just among group interests but also between group interests and collective possibilities. The discovery that we are dealing with a ramshackle settlement rather than a law like system invites a question. The question is: What is the alternative?

    Like our most cherished faith traditions, the language of democracy is everywhere, but the spiritual power of democracy is fading before our very eyes.

    How can we resurrect our democracy? We must begin with an honest account of the mess we are in.

  • Politics in the 21st Century: A Donor-Centered Democracy Elite political donors, not the voting public, choose the

    direction of American politics. A dominant class of political elite has effectively neutralized our right to vote. Political elites run a secretive systemcentered in campaign financeby which elections are effectively determined in advance. Elections are not competitions. They are coronations. In these coronations, the winners of a secretive, elitist competition cruise to victory because of their staggering financial advantage. Most general elections are coronations because the political class has remapped electoral districts in order to ensure that incumbents do not face competitive opponents. Gerrymandering means that the winner of any given districts majority partys primary is nearly guaranteed victory in the general election. Since the winner of the majority partys primary is almost guaranteed election in the general, it would seem that party primaries are the primary locus of power in our political system. However, primaries themselves are effectively pre-determined coronations masquerading as an electoral competition. Primaries are merely coronations because the winner of the Money Primary almost always wins the Partys Primary.

    In our cu