Gallup recently asked Americans what issues the next president should prioritize. The #2 result was "reducing corruption in the federal government," which came in at a robust 87% percent. Only job creation is a higher priority at 92% (Tackling the national debt was a close third at 86%). In a related finding, public approval of Congress ties an all-time low of 10%. A quiet consensus has formed. Our fellow citizens want the corruption to end and they need a solution.
The recent Gallup study follows related public opinion studies, notably those done by Pew Research in recent years. In 2010 Pew got specific about discovering what it was that citizens disliked about our political leaders.
When asked about a series of criticisms of elected officials in Washington – that they care only about their careers, are influenced by special interests, are unwilling to compromise, and are profligate and out-of-touch – large majorities (no fewer than 76%) agree with each of the statements.
But the Pew research only told us that a consensus about corruption had emerged. We didn't know how important these issues were to people. Now, with this latest Gallup study, it's clear. Americans place corruption near the very top of their concerns about their country.
The information from Gallup has important implications for us. As readers familiar with our plan know, we intend to recruit a team of highly credible progressives and conservatives who will, in turn, create a constitutional amendment that will end the institutionalized corruption plaguing our republic. The amendment will 1) replace the current special-interest-funded campaign finance system with a clean elections system 2) enact congressional term limits, and 3) end the practice of gerrymandering. Other reforms may also be included.
Amending the Constitution is hard. It's about the most difficult thing to do in American politics, so most reform groups - even groups that are very richly funded - stay away from this challenge. But to avoid the challenge of amending the Constitution is to fail to solve the problem. If a massive surge of resources and voter energy one day gets a Congress to take meaningful steps, then those steps will surely be undone by a future Congress. Resources and energy must be focused intensely for a period of time to achieve change that is permanent, structural and thus constitutional.
The proposal must come from the people and at the right moment be forced through Congress or through an Article V Constitutional Convention. It means turning reform into a political weapon, arming true citizen-legislators with the amendment, and hammering at incumbent careerists who resist. It will take multiple elections cycles. Given the power of incumbency it sounds daunting, but there is no other way.
The Gallup survey data gives us new hope because it tells us that the American people hunger for reform. They yearn for a solution. Given what we now know, the right proposed amendment could catch fire and drive this process faster and more forcefully than most people think possible. It doesn't matter how long it takes. We must get started.
The key is a wise and comprehensive proposed amendment written by credible conservative and progressive leaders. The amendment must be so attractive , and so powerfully reflective of the popular reform consensus, that no sensible politician will dare oppose it.
In terms of recruiting the leaders, we are getting close. Watch the headlines in the coming year, and you will see that we will be "the little reform group that could."
In the meantime, please join us and consider making a financial contribution. Americans United to Rebuild Democracy is an all-volunteer organization at this time and pay no salaries. This will have to change. We need resources now to ramp up. Every penny goes to mission-critical activities. We can do this, and we will. Please help.