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Amendment 1 would empower The People

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Originally published in St. Louis American on October 18, 2018.

Since my early days of political awareness, all the administrations of U.S. presidents have been tainted with racism and corruption, from John F. Kennedy to Trump. (I’ll take the first black president out for obvious reasons.) Former Congressman Bill Clay gives us the all the proof we need in his latest book, “U.S. Presidents: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Pimples, Warts and All.”

Clay talks about the contracts on America (not with America) by these administrations. The attacks on working families, especially families of color, through laws and policies often veiled until we feel the punch. Like Reagan’s War on Drugs. Like Clinton’s double-whammy of welfare reform and the infamous crime bill. Like Trump’s big tax break for his rich buddies. And since Clay’s book is an assessment from a black perspective, he illuminates the damaging impact of these elected officials on black people, their lives and their futures.

While black folks have been in constant battles for their dignity and human rights, we have come to have low expectations of elected officials, from the ward level up to the Oval Office. And that’s even when our votes put them in office or when they look like us. There is a line that is being crossed, and we see far too many of those politicians at the public trough. The rich keep getting bigger breaks while working people are getting less and less. We’re sick and tired of trying to compete with the likes of Corporations United for what should be guaranteed benefits as citizens.

Come now Amendment 1 on the November 6 ballot statewide in Missouri – a citizens’ attempt to rein in corruption at the state level. Over 300,000 signatures were collected to qualify CLEAN Missouri for the November 6 ballot. Citizens want more integrity, transparency and accountability – and less partisan gerrymandering – in a government by the people and for the people.

Voting Yes on Amendment 1 takes a hefty swipe at lobbying gifts in a state which has few restrictions. Almost 70 percent of $8.5 million worth of gifts that come to our lawmakers are allegedly said to go to legitimate legislative bodies like caucuses, making the money more difficult to track.

Opponents of Amendment 1 are using misinformation around the redistricting portion of the ballot initiative.  They are telling black communities that maps could be drawn where they would get a white person representing their majority-black district. White, rural communities are being told they will get a black rep. The old tricks of divide-and-conquer can’t derail our democracy train.

Black people want more power not less—economic and political. We want more democracy not less. We want more protections and benefits from our local, state and federal government than what we’re getting now.

The passage of Amendment 1 will not totally eliminate corruption or our lawmakers getting goodies from lobbyists who often represent interests in conflict with the majority of their constituents. It will not get us the perfect state district maps after the 2020 census. But Amendment 1 moves us closer to maximizing the participation and empowering of citizens who want more from their government. It will ease the well-heeled corporate boot on our necks. For now.

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