I WAS BORN right after World War II. It was a time of extreme optimism, confidence and hope. As I grew into adulthood, many in my generation, myself included, were naïve enough to think we could take democracy for granted. We were lulled into complacency by believing that democracy, at least here in America, is so powerful that she would work for us always, even without much effort on our part.
She won’t and she can’t, because when “We the People” aren’t consistently attentive and vigilant to democracy, then the powerful corporate interests and wealthy elite gladly take over — and take over they have.
For this reason, I am writing to thank our New Hampshire congressional delegation in Washington, Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster, for supporting and co-sponsoring the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1), a comprehensive democracy reform bill, proposed to allow the voice of everyday citizens to be heard again and to protect our democratic institutions that have been under attack for a number of years. A republic cannot stand strong without healthy democratic institutions supporting it.
Many of the issues addressed in this act are very important to me, but none more important than the call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution; an amendment to stop wealthy individuals and large corporations from drowning out the voices of the rest of us with excessive, secret, and often foreign donations in our elections. A constitutional amendment is sorely needed at this time in our history to re-institute the power of state and federal government to set reasonable limits on campaign spending as was true prior to 2010.
I have a very personal interest in seeing this amendment passed. Nowhere is the need for this constitutional amendment more evident than in the tragic story of the opioid crisis in our country and particularly here in New Hampshire. We are now all aware that over the past 10 years political donations from the pharmaceutical industry grew excessively and in secret. As the amount of donations rose year-by-year, the quality and amount of legislative regulation on pharmaceutical corporations weakened law by law. Coincidence? I don’t think so. We now have evidence that the pharmaceutical industry pushed opioids out into our communities even as they had specific evidence that these drugs were addictive and dangerous to our children. But the tycoons of the pharmaceutical industry didn’t care, and legislators were too dependent on the donations of the pharmaceutical corporations to listen to the voices of voters calling for passage of federal regulations to stop them. Only the bottom line mattered, not the lives of our children and grandchildren.
Too many New Hampshire families have lost a beloved family member to this travesty. My family included. My grandson, a young man just beginning a welding internship, became caught up in the horror of opioid drugs and then on to heroin. He never had a chance to continue with his internship because his battle with addiction led him to take his own life instead.
Today, there are so very many other families suffering from the addiction enabled by the pharmaceutical industry. This is one of the many reasons why I urgently want to see the For the People Act enacted. It is all so very clear to me. No meaningful, effective, and long-lasting legislation to promote the “common good” will ever be passed again unless we take action to fix our broken politics. No laws to truly protect our environment, or our health, or our safety, or our financial well-being are possible until voters like myself are first able to convince legislators to do everything in their power to root out the corrupting influence of excessive and secret money in politics. And for that we ultimately need to pass the For the People Act and amend the U.S. Constitution.
To Senators Shaheen and Hassan, and Representatives Kuster and Pappas, I say thank you for supporting your constituents with your co-sponsorship of the For the People Act. I realize that large corporate interests will be working against its passage, and that big and secret money will be spent to stop the For the People Act and to ruin your campaign. I ask that you stay strong and continue to support your constituents.
To my fellow New Hampshire voters, I say contact your congressional representatives now and let them know that you have their backs.