How Student Activists are Sparking Efforts to Take Big Private Money out of American Politics

Source: Joan D. Mandle and Jay R. Mandle, Scholars Strategy Network, Civic Engagement, November 2014

The huge amounts of private and often secret money flooding into the U.S. political system undermine trust and broad participation in American democracy. When a tiny fraction of the population provides the lion’s share of funding for election campaigns, as is now the case in the United States, public policymaking becomes heavily biased toward wealthy contributors and repeatedly falls short of serving the common good.

A number of national reform organizations have emerged to address this problem – some founded decades ago – but they have made insufficient headway. Two difficulties plague their efforts. These organizations have not done much grassroots organizing and they have neglected young people. To address these shortcomings, we joined forces in 2001 with Adonal Foyle, a thirteen-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, to launch a national organization called Democracy Matters that stresses campus-based organizing.