Since first discovering UUism through the UU Church of Vancouver (then called Michael Servetus Unitarian Universalist Fellowship) at the age of fifteen, I've been continually inspired by the way in which our tradition empowers us to come together and enact our religious values in the wider world through service, advocacy, and sacrifice.
After years of involvement, I completed my orientation for membership, and I was excited and galvanized to learn how deeply the UU commitment to social justice work goes- that during the civil rights movement of the sixties, more ministers came from UU congregations to support the nonviolent fight for racial equality than from any other denomination.
Now, there is a new civil rights struggle, one that affects all Americans and has a bearing on virtually every progressive cause UUs care about. The importance of reclaiming our democracy, of our right to an equal voice in our government, through a constitutional amendment and federal legislation to overturn Citizens United and allow for regulation of political spending was affirmed in an Action of Immediate Witness deliberated on and endorsed by our General Assembly in 2013.
99Rise, Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, WolfPAC, We Are Woman, and a growing coalition of organizations are currently organizing a historic mass civil disobedience campaign for next spring in Washington D.C., aimed at creating a national crisis moment around the corrupting influence of big money in politics and the urgent need for political equality.
And in just a week after our public launch, over 650 people have already pledged to risk arrest to make this pivotal moment a historic one in our country’s history.
This campaign has tremendous potential for intervening in the 2016 election, capturing major sustained media attention, propelling the issue of political equality and corruption to the center stage, and for creating a powerful mandate for candidates and current members of congress to support specific pro-democracy reforms which could be passed in 2017.
Just picture it: thousands of citizens gather on a Spring day in Philadelphia and issue a call to our elected representatives and candidates for concrete constitutional and legislative reforms to give us the democracy that is our right. As we march to D.C. over the course of the subsequent two weeks, our ranks swell and media coverage intensifies, putting pressure on those running for office to take a public stand for or against this popular mandate for real democracy.
If the reforms we need have not been achieved by our arrival at the capitol, our legislators will be responsible for sending wave after wave of peaceful Americans to jail, all in the service of a corrupt status quo.
A strong cohort of high-profile leaders have already pledged to risk arrest, including Mark Ruffalo, Lawrence Lessig, Zephyr Teachout, Ben Cohen, and Cenk Uygur. Over forty organizations have already endorsed, but we’re just getting started. We want many more organizations to join this coalition and help make this moment the watershed event we need to take back democracy for the people. Are you connected to a congregation or other social justice organization that could help with media, email blasts to members, or mobilization to get as many Washingtonians as we can to be a part of this historic moment in D.C. next April?
Can you risk arrest in D.C., or be there for any part of the march?
If any of the above is true, sign up at DemocracySpring.Org. You can also e-mail me at MathiasQuackenbush@gmail.com
This promises to be a turning point- we can make 2016 the year we came together and said NO to corruption, winning the democracy we'll need to face the environmental, peace, and social justice challenges that lie before us. But only if we get serious numbers involved. It starts with you.