About Faith In Ohio Faith in Ohio is a political organizing campaign—faith-based and statewide. The mission is to Own Our Democracy. Wealthy individuals and corporations control our politics. Only the faith community has the organized power to return elections to the people. Our citizen-initiated constitutional amendment will finance elections through public vouchers—$50 for every registered voter to distribute to any candidates, political parties, or initiatives of their choice. Once passed, public financing will overtake corrupt private financing by a 3:1 margin.
Our Institutional Partners We seek to assemble institutional leadership from the following good government, community, and faith organizations: RootStrikers Common Cause Ohio Ohio Prophetic Voices Ohio Organizing Collaborative Our Faith, Our Vote EL@M (Election Law at Moritz) Greater Cleveland Congregations B.R.E.A.D. Congregations (Columbus) Toledans United for Social Action First Church Columbus Vermilion United Church of Christ Congregational Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative Northeast Ohio Alliance of Hope (NOAH) The AMOS Project (Cincinnati Congregations)
Our Prayer: Democracy Resurrected Government controls us. But we do not control government. Soon it will be too late. Out of control, we stopped paying attention. Out of interest, we lost responsibility. In Communion— Hope emerges. Organizing, we connect with one another. United, we declare ownership. Responsible, we buy back elections. Financed, the people control the politicians. Liberated, we beacon the world.
Our Faith In Ohio Is God's Grace Resurrected in Democracy
Table of Contents 4
Introduction to Faith In Ohio
Democracy: A Beautiful Myth
The Money Primary: Crux of American Power
Protesting Corruption Denies the Deeper Crisis
The True Illness of Our Democracy: Dread
Faith In Ohio’s Political/Spiritual Solution
The Amendment: Publicly Financed Elections
Assessing the Amendment’s Impact
The Plan to Pass the Amendment
Will Citizens Rise to the Occasion?
Faith In Ohio Agape Meal Services
Our Faith In Ohio—Hope for Democracy
Works Cited: Our Intellectual Foundation
Introduction to Faith In Ohio Faith In Ohio’s mission is to Own Our Democracy. To Own Our Democracy we must pursue legislative and spiritual action. Legislatively, we will amend the Constitution of Ohio to create publicly financed elections. Our historic Own Our Democracy amendment will make Ohio the first state in America to publicly fund elections with vouchers—$50 for every registered voter to distribute to any candidates, political parties, or initiatives of their choice. Once passed, public financing will overwhelm private financing by a 3:1 margin. To pass our Constitutional amendment we are appealing directly to voters. We are organizing 1,000 leaders from Ohio faith communities and colleges—collecting 500,000 signatures—to put a citizen-initiated amendment on the March 2016 statewide ballot. Campaign finance reform is not enough to build a true democracy. A deeper spiritual illness plagues our politics. Voters are in despair over the state of politics. And our despair has made us ignorant and apathetic. We have disconnected, not because we actually cannot effect political change, but because we feel that we cannot change politics. So, even more important than our legislative action, we seek to build civic spirituality in Ohio. Through this civic spirituality, citizens experience communion via political engagement. Political communion is a new practice of love, whereby we graciously extend our gifts throughout our whole body politic. Within this state of communion, we realize a civic power we never knew we possessed. Once empowered over the electoral process, we hope voters extend our civic communion: to economic, education, environmental, and health reform. Our model of Owning Our Democracy will be a beacon of hope to the rest of our nation and the world.
Democracy: A Beautiful Myth As Americans, we are born into a profoundly spiritual understanding of democracy. The American Revolution, the dawn of modern Democracy, was inspired by a shockingly idealistic democratic vision. Mocked for his naiveté, Thomas Jefferson struck the a devastating blow to political cynicism. At America’s birth, Jefferson declared that democracy is a political expression of God’s Grace: A civic order rooted in our shared spiritual experience of equality, freedom, and happiness. Millions of Americans have given their lives trying to make this inspired declaration a reality. Yet, the birth of American democracy was only possible because we were radically idealistic and relentlessly realistic. The brilliance of our founders was their realization that true democracy is an elusive myth—our society’s most noble spiritual aspiration, which can never be fully realized. In fact, the Declaration of Independence’s soaring idealism is only meaningful because it is balanced by our Constitution’s grounded realism—a fearless recognition of our inherent political sinfulness. Human nature is such that every individual’s political efforts are always self-serving. The theologian Reinhold Niebuhr described the self-corrupting nature of individuals in democracy: “The disposition to hid self-interest behind the façade of pretended devotion to values transcending self-interest is well-near universal. Man is a curious creature with so strong a sense of obligation to his fellows that he cannot pursue his own interests without pretending to serve his fellow men”. To successfully acquire power, political agents must become experts at concealing self-interest in this way. The Federalist Papers, the bedrock of our Constitution, argue that a successful democracy must assume all political behaviors proceed from the sort of subtle corruption Niebuhr describes. So the structure of a smart democracy will force political actors to serve the public interest in order to serve their own interest.
Our Constitution was infused with many practical measures— like the separation of powers—aimed at accomplishing just this end. But in the 18th century, our founding fathers could not anticipate how campaign finance would become the primary means by which political power is exercised. So, in the 21st century, it is incumbent upon us to follow our Founders’ example and reform campaign finance in such a way that politicians can only serve their own interest—i.e. getting elected—by serving the public’s interest. To blame America’s democratic impurities wholly on corrupt politicians and corrupt special interests, though, is naïve. In fact, our democracy has a much deeper problem than corruption. The hard truth is that democracy has never really existed anywhere in the world. Nowhere has an entire citizenry ever built up enough civic capital—broad-based public knowledge and civic activism—to run a real democracy. We falsely idealize democratic pasts—like early America or ancient Greece—which were, more accurately, a small collection of elite individuals pretending to represent the broader public interest. Just the sort of false democracy we have today. The monumental task of empowering the broader public to meaningfully exercise democracy has never occurred in human history. As political philosopher Roberto Unger describes, “What we have around us is not a system founded on a rational plan. It is not a machine, built according to a blueprint we are able only partly to divine. It is just an institutional and ideological settlement, a partial and temporary interruption of fighting, a compromise not just among group interests but also between group interests and collective possibilities. The discovery that we are dealing with a ramshackle settlement rather than a law like system invites a question. The question is: What is the alternative?” Like our most cherished faith traditions, the language of ‘democracy’ is everywhere, but the spiritual power of democracy is fading before our very eyes. How can we resurrect our democracy? We must begin with an honest account of the mess we are in.
Politics in the 21st Century: A Donor-‐Centered Democracy
Elite political donors, not the voting public, choose the direction of American politics. A dominant class of political elite has effectively neutralized our right to vote. Political elites run a secretive system—centered in campaign finance—by which elections are effectively determined in advance. Elections are not competitions. They are coronations. In these coronations, the winners of a secretive, elitist competition cruise to victory because of their staggering financial advantage. Most general elections are coronations because the political class has remapped electoral districts in order to ensure that incumbents do not face competitive opponents. Gerrymandering means that the winner of any given districts’ majority party’s primary is nearly guaranteed victory in the general election. Since the winner of the majority party’s primary is almost guaranteed election in the general, it would seem that party primaries are the primary locus of power in our political system. However, primaries themselves are effectively pre-determined coronations masquerading as an electoral competition. Primaries are merely coronations because the winner of the ‘Money Primary’ almost always wins the Party’s Primary. In our current electoral system, whoever raises the most money wins the election. And those who win elections rewrite the rules by which elections are contested. Tragically, those with the money have rewritten the rules in such a way that as few elections as possible are ever contested at all. In this way, our right to vote has been neutralized. We have been cut off from our Democratic power. Worse still, most of us don’t even know it. If political power is not won through electoral competition, how is it won? In American politics, politicians gain power, not by winning over voters in the election, but by winning over donors.
The Money Primary: Crux of American Power Long before political candidates engage in meaningful public debate, they are busy at the true work of winning the election—the Money Primary. Before the first public dialogue of our democracy begins—the primary election—candidates meet with top-tier donors to sell them on a governing vision. Donors give money based on how closely the candidates adhere to the donors’ ideological agendas. An especially charismatic candidate can sell donors on a governing agenda the candidate truly believes in. Less talented candidates make more of an effort to accommodate their political priorities to those of the donors. Though only the latter scenario immediately strikes us as corruption, the mere existence of the money primary is the greatest corruption of our civic society. Why is the Money Primary such a corrupting process? What’s so bad about good people (candidates) collecting money from other good people (donors) based on their shared ideals? The Money Primary is such a horrible corruption because it excludes 99% of the population from having any meaningful impact on democratic outcomes. Serious candidates for elected office appraise their odds of winning an election before they publicly throw their hat in the ring. The way candidates appraise these odds is by comparing how much money they can raise with that of their opponents. So during the Money Primary, before the public is even included in the debate, the vast majority of serious opposition candidates drop out. Only in rare cases do two candidates with significantly different governing agendas emerge from the Money Primary. In this way our governing agenda is determined before the election begins—during the Money Primary. In this system, an elite segment of wealthy donors determine the governing agenda of both the Democratic and the Republican Party. Our votes barely matter.
Protesting Corruption Denies the Deeper Crisis Up to this point, none of this argument concerning the state of our democracy feels unfamiliar. We all agree that politicians and wealthy individuals engage in a corrupting quid pro quo. But, if we hope to truly reform our democracy, we must start thinking differently. In our public dialogue, when we do talk about our democratic dysfunction, we place blame exclusively on ‘corrupt politicians’ and ‘special interests’. Since we blame these two parties for our democratic failures, we believe that the path towards true democracy is to limit financial contributions. We think, “if only there was less money in politics, elections would be so much more democratic”. In truth, we don’t spend nearly enough money on politics. By way of example, Campaign Finance Reform experts Ian Ayres and Bruce Ackerman tell us that auto manufacturers spend four times more money marketing vehicles than our democracy spends marketing candidates and issues. Are cars a more important consumer choice than the direction of our society? To blame the failures of our democracy on politicians and special interests is childish. The difference between a child and an adult is a matter of perspective. Children run from responsibility. Adults embrace responsibility. Children, when confused, create symbols— bogeymen—to blame their fears on. Adults analyze their confusion to understand the deeper causes. We will never fix our democracy so long as we choose to think about politics like children. Unfortunately, corruption is not the true illness of our democracy. Corruption is merely a symptom of the real illness. We must summon the courage to embrace our democratic responsibilities and analyze our confusion. We must confront the true illness of our democracy.
The True Illness of Our Democracy: Dread We must have the courage to be honest about the biggest problem facing our democracy: Voters are powerless. We are ignorant and apathetic. When we stop anthropomorphizing exploitative social dynamics—i.e. blaming the bogeymen of the 1% for intentionally creating an exploitative world order—we realize that social transformation is not as easy as popularly conceived. We cannot change the world-order by merely giving what the 1% has to the 99%. The 99% must create their own power and democratic capital. Only when we mature our socio-political worldview in this way does it become possible to actually change social systems. Two-thirds of Americans can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice. Almost half of Americans can’t name the Vice President. Can you even name both of your representatives in the state legislature? Fortunately, voters are ignorant but we’re not stupid. We are apathetic but we’re not lazy. We are powerless but we’re not weak. Voter ambivalence is a spiritual condition. We live in dread because we do not feel we have the ability to change the system that shapes our lives. This dread is so deeply embedded, our fear is so pervasive and all consuming, that we cannot even see it anymore. We don’t even know that we are afraid of our lack of power. We fear that average citizens actually shouldn’t be trusted with the responsibilities of government. We are powerless precisely because we fear that we are so ignorant and apathetic that we shouldn’t be trusted with the same influence as the political elite. We have the ability to empower ourselves. In any given election voters could pass initiatives, independently of politicians, to give us power over the democratic elite. Spiritual dread prevents us from claiming the democratic power that is our American birthright.
Civic Liberation Organizing is a spiritual discipline. Communing with one another, we become empowered to shape our own world for the first time in our lives. Only through organizing can we become free. Organizing must start from where the world is, not where we would like it to be. In organizing for democratic resurrection, we must take into account the whole scope of our democratic problem—voter apathy and government corruption—and then begin to work for change from the root of the problem—civic dread. Community organizing is America’s great civic religion. Organizing has not yet produced transformative systemic change. But, all over the country, organizing has produced transformative spiritual change. At its core, organizing is primarily concerned with liberating the human soul. The human spirit becomes liberated when we experience the power to shape and determine the system that has previously shaped our lives in ways we could not control. Once we have such an experience—of holding power over that which formerly held power over us—we realize that we have lived our entire lives being controlled by something we could not even see. We realize that we have been living half-lives—blinded to the way that our political system determines our job, income, education, family life, everything. And when we finally see the power that politics has over us, and we see the power that we can have over politics, we become free in a way that we could not have even conceptualized before. If we hope to overcome America’s deep-seeded existential dread, we must seek civic liberation. To be civically liberated we must commune with one another. Together, we must claim ownership of our democratic birthright. Religious practice is instructive for facilitating such civic liberation. At its core, ritual is about creating an experience. Through religious ritual we experience, in a small controlled environment, a beautiful way of life that we hope to manifest in the larger world.
A Political/Spiritual Solution Faith In Ohio believes that democratic resurrection must be both a political and spiritual process. The beauty of the Faith In Ohio campaign is that we accomplish both of these objectives at the same time. Our organizing campaign simultaneously heals the systemic and spiritual wounds of our democracy. Politically, we attack our democracy’s primary systemic issue—the exclusive electoral power of an elite minority of the population—through an historic amendment to the Ohio Constitution—the Own Our Democracy Amendment. This amendment revolutionizes campaign finance by empowering registered voters with public vouchers. Through these $50 public vouchers, average registered voters will have a 3:1 funding advantage over the electoral elite. Spiritually, we attack our democracy’s primary existential issue—our despair over our lack of power—by communing voters with one another. Our organizing activities are infused with an explicit spiritual practice. In keeping with the earliest worship practices of the Christian movement, our leaders engage in interfaith dinner services. At these dinner services, leaders share stories of civic empowerment, pray, and discuss their hopes and dreams for democratic transformation. Through this religious ritual we experience, in a small controlled environment, a beautiful way of life that we hope to manifest in the larger world. Informed by ritual, we collect signatures, to concretely gather political power for our voter initiated amendment. Pairing political and spiritual transformation together, Faith In Ohio seeks to unlock the political power of Ohio’s faith community. As Ohio’s largest collection of organized individuals, the faith community should be the most powerful political force in the state. Unfortunately, civic apathy and ideological polarity has made the Ohio faith community politically powerless. Through our bipartisan, interfaith campaign, we hope to unite conservative and liberal faith communities under a shared banner: Faith In Ohio
The Own Our Democracy Amendment: Publicly Financed Elections The essential nuts and bolts of the Faith In Ohio amendment: •Every registered voter is given a public voucher for $50 which they can choose to distribute to any combination of candidates, political parties, or issues of their choice. •To receive public voucher funds a candidate for office must forego all private donations in excess of $100. Why is this particular amendment the most effective means for democratic rejuvenation? The great strength of the Own Our Democracy Amendment is that it opens up electoral politics to the innovative power of the free market. Currently, American electoral politics are insulated from meaningful competition and choice. The Own Our Democracy Amendment maximizes competition among candidates for office. There will be more candidates with meaningfully different ideas competing against each other on a level playing field. And the amendment maximizes choice among the voters. Voters will be able to exercise the power of choice continually and repeatedly. At four of five (or seven) separate times during an election cycle voters can weigh in on the election (by contributing funds) rather than weighing in just once (on the first Tuesday of November). The most essential economic principle is that maximizing choice and competition creates the strongest possible economy. American business leads the world because our entrepreneurs operate in the economic system with most choice and competition. After we pass the Own Our Democracy Amendment, American democracy will lead the world the world as well. Voters will have more levels of
choice (opportunities to weigh in on the election) and more power of choice (in politics, money is power). And the voters’ increased capacity of choice will create dramatic surge of competition among candidates for elected office. We will see more candidates for office (especially candidates outside the mainstream Democratic-Republican political monopoly) with a viable chance of winning, engage in a much more meaningful debate, that is ultimately decided by a much broader section of the population. Contrary to popular perception, the problem with our democracy is not that too much money is being spent. Shockingly, the problem is that not enough money is being spent! More specifically, as the wrong people are buying elections left and right (pun intended), the right people—average citizens—are not spending anywhere near enough money. We know from our own life experience that sometimes the decision processes we spend the most energy on turn out to be the most shallow. The key is to structure our democratic decision making process in such a way that the energy (i.e. money) we spend propels us into a deeper, more insightful conversation. Realizing that campaign finance is the crux on which democratic power is decided, the top legal and political minds in America have spent decades trying to devise an ideal system by which to fund campaigns. The Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case seemed to make campaign finance reform impossible because it made it illegal to cap electoral spending. However, the most innovative and comprehensive campaign finance reform remedy remains untouched by this decision. In Voting with Dollars, a pair of Yale professors first realized that the problem with campaign finance was more of a ‘bottom-up’ issue rather than a ‘top-down’ issue. Essentially, they argue that the most effective way to reform elections is to give the little people more money than the big people. That way, politicians will need to cater their message to average voters in order to raise the money needed to win elections. And, simultaneously, average voters will have a much greater incentive to become civically informed and active, because they now have the power to control electoral outcomes.
Recently, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig has made significant improvements to the Voting with Dollars system. His book, Republic Lost, outlines a campaign finance system of providing every registered voter with a $50 public voucher as the most effective way to reform electoral politics. Lessig’s plan has a few essential qualities that make it a much more comprehensive and viable campaign finance reform system than other proposed alternatives. Most importantly, a public voucher plan sidesteps constitutional prohibitions that have invalidated past reforms and it “does not allow ‘your money’ to be used to support speech you don’t believe in” (p 228). In other words, a public voucher system avoids the partisan and constitutional pitfalls that have sunk every other electoral reform effort. Faith In Ohio honors the fact that all effective legislation is written by citizens with special expertise for a very specific, everchanging context. Too many nobly intended organizing campaigns have failed because of their naiveté regarding policy nuance. For this reason, Faith In Ohio will assemble a committee of citizen experts to write our constitutional amendment. These experts— Dr. Lessig, Ohio State Law professors specializing in electoral law, and Republican and Democratic legislative aides—will be charged with writing an amendment that meets certain essential democratic outcomes. Most significantly, the amendment must provide every registered voter with a sufficiently large voucher so that electoral power dynamics are dramatically shifted to the grassroots. These outcomes are detailed in p 15-17. A committee of Faith In Ohio leaders—pastors, parishioners, and citizens—will vote to approve the policy committees’ draft.
Assessing the Impact of our Amendment: Three Essential Outcomes
If Faith In Ohio’s Own Our Democracy Amendment is to truly revolutionize American democracy it must achieve three essential outcomes. The Amendment-Writing Committee will be charged with meeting these three prerogatives: 1. Provide citizens a 3:1 funding advantage over the current financing system. Enable citizens to dominate the MoneyPrimary, thus establishing an endless referendum-response loop between voters and elected officials. 2. Ensure that grassroots, reform-minded candidates can viably contend for office. 3. Ensure that elected officials’ self-interest is powerfully wedded to the interest of the broader public. Faith In Ohio recognizes the need to be relentlessly self-critical and realistic. In keeping with this spirit, an informed, intelligent critic would identify three major pitfalls that might prevent the Own Our Democracy Amendment from being a successful policy. The three greatest potential pitfalls of our amendment are: 1. Grassroots candidates cannot raise sufficient funds to be viable candidates 2. Private financing creatively responds (i.e. triples) and overpowers public funds anyway. 3. Average voters do not rise to the occasion and become more engaged and informed citizens. This third pitfall is the most likely pitfall of Faith In Ohio. As such it warrants a more extensive and developed analysis (p 24-29). On p 16-18 we analyze the potential to meet these three essential outcomes while avoiding the first two pitfalls.
The Electoral Viability of Publicly Funded Candidates The most powerful way to reform our civic society would be to ensure that our brightest, most empathetic citizens could win grassroots campaigns for elected office. The Own Our Democracy
Amendment’s publicly funded electoral system will make this idealistic vision a reality. One variable, above all, determines whether or not a candidate for office has a viable chance of winning: how much money they raise. For every elected office there is a ‘viability hurdle’—an amount of money that, if raised, means the candidate can reasonably compete for the win. Candidates who raise enough money to meet this hurdle often win. Those who don’t reach this viability hurdle, almost always lose. For Ohio State Representatives, for example, this viability hurdle is somewhere between $30,000-40,000. In our current campaign finance system, this hurdle is too high for average citizens to reach. In order to raise this much money, most candidates either rely on their own individual wealth or the wealth of their friends, family, and associates. In essence, the viability hurdle is high enough that only wealthy individuals, or people with close relationships with wealthy individuals, can reasonably expect to win elections. With public vouchers, the playing field is leveled. Grassroots candidates, relying solely on public vouchers, will finally be able to raise enough money to become electorally viable. To raise $40,000 a candidate would need to receive 800 fullvouchers ($50), 1600 half-vouchers ($25), or 3200 quarter-vouchers ($12.50). Effective networking, communications, and personal contact should enable a skilled grassroots candidate to collect enough voucher funds to be electorally viable. Such fundraising enables approximately four direct connections to primary voters: 2 direct mailers, 1 TV, and 1 radio or print. In our democratic system, primary victors are usually effective winners of the general election as well (p 7). All told, skilled grassroots candidates can use public funds to become viable winners.
Privately-Funded Candidates Hit a Threshold of Diminishing Returns
2012 was supposed to be the year that mega-donors finally took absolute control over elections. But something unexpected happened. Super PACS proved to be less influential in the 2012 election than expected. Their curious lack of influence on the most high-powered races demonstrated that there is a point at which excessive campaign expenditures stop working. Ohio voters, in particular, were so inundated with politicking that they started to tune out the excessive ads and doorknockers in the high-powered Presidential and US Senate Race. US Senate candidates Josh Mandel and Sherrod Brown, for example, both shattered statewide campaign finance records. But studies show that their ads had relatively little persuasive impact on voters. The fact that excessive private financing can only take a candidate so far is great news for the Faith In Ohio method of public finance. It shows that public financing can be highly efficient even if it merely ensures viability without guaranteeing a financial advantage. Ultimately, a candidates’ campaign finances are much more important in terms of ensuring viability rather than dominating their opponent. In other words, when it comes to campaign finance, it is much more important to hit a minimum floor level than it is to raise the roof through maximum funding. Consequently, while candidates with elite fundraising networks will always enjoy a significant advantage, grassroots candidates who take advantage of public financing will always have the opportunity to compete for the win. Even in the most lopsided competitions, the publicly financed candidate will at least force the electoral debate to focus on issues of primary concern to the public—itself, an historic improvement.
Amendment Facts and Figures Ohio Campaign Finance Totals: Campaign Finance Expenditures 20061: $100,144,276 Campaign Finance Expenditures 20081: $56,703,052
Campaign Finance Expenditures 20101: $135,252,572 Biannual Finance Available from Vouchers: $385,000,000 Total Campaign Finance Expenditures of Electoral Winners2 Mayor (Vermilion, pop: 10,000): $5,000 — 100 vouchers (in full) State Representative2: $40,000 — 800 vouchers State Senate2: $60,000 — 1200 vouchers Lieutenant Governor: $433,701 — 8,674 vouchers Mayor (Cleveland): $623,601 — 12,472 vouchers Ohio Secretary of State: $741,302 — 14,826 vouchers US House Representative (Ohio): $1,126,336.5 — 22,527 vouchers Governor3: $17,200,000 — 344,000 vouchers US Senate3 (Ohio): $20,525,795.5 — 410,516 vouchers Tax Burden per Citizen of the Own Our Democracy Amendment $ 52 Tax Burden Accrued to Public by Special Interest Spending Incalculably high. By way of example, “in 2009 the Cato Institute estimated that the US Congress spent $90 Billion on corporate welfare. Corporate welfare, as they defined it, was ‘subsidies and regulatory protections that lawmakers confer on certain businesses and industries’”4. Such a figure doesn’t begin to estimate the hundreds of billions of dollars that electoral corruption costs voters in the fields of education, taxes, healthcare, agriculture and military spending. Simply put, the $52 Ohio taxpayers invest in publicly financing elections would produce a remarkable return on investment.
Plan to Pass the Amendment Faith In Ohio plans to pass our Own Our Democracy Amendment independently of elected officials, through a citizeninitiated constitutional amendment. 1
Campaign finance data: http://www.followthemoney.org/press/ReportView.phtml?r=469 For these offices, representative samples were taken. 3 For these races, it is essential to note that the primary is the key hurdle and costs significantly less. 4 Lawrence Lessig, Republic Lost, p 229 2
To put our amendment on the ballot we will collect 500,000 signatures throughout the state of Ohio. Of these signatures, Ohio state law requires that “signatures must have been obtained from at least 44 of the 88 counties in Ohio. From each of these 44 counties, there must be signatures equal to at least five percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election”5. Such a signature gathering effort requires a massive organizational effort. Special interest groups pay million dollar fees to professional signature gathering firms to complete the process. Faith In Ohio plans to accomplish what million-dollar special interest campaigns purchase through a volunteer effort. Such a grassroots organizing campaign will require remarkable heart, ingenuity, and perseverance. But our campaign has one asset, that’s considerably more powerful than the special interests’ money: Faith. This is the basic organizing model we will employ to put the Own Our Democracy Amendment on the ballot: 1. Build relationships with 50 faith partners—44 congregations in our target counties and 6 of Ohio’s largest, most socially engaged congregations. 2. Organize a presence on 12 Ohio college campuses. 3. From our institutional partners, develop 1,000 leaders. 4. Faith In Ohio leaders, coordinating volunteers, collect signatures at very large public events: county fairs, festivals, and sporting events.
Organizing Plan From May 2013 to March 2016 Faith In Ohio will recruit and develop 1,000 leaders across the state of Ohio, collecting 500,000 signatures in 44 counties. There are two essential components of our organizing: Leader recruitment/development and Signature Gathering. Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g 5
Â Faith In Ohio leaders will be recruited from two primary types of institutions: faith communities and colleges. Every Sunday morning, Faith In Ohioâ€™s organizer will lead a Faith In Ohio worship service for a different congregation. Beginning from this worship service, our organizer will network throughout the community, seeking out individuals with a passion for civic engagement and faith development. At the end of the week, the organizer will bring together these leaders for an Agape Meal Service (see p 22). Our organizer will also network through college communities seeking potential leaders. By offering guest lectures and networking through Greek organizations, service groups, campus faith groups, and political clubs, our organizer will connect to young adults with a passion for civic engagement. Our college leaders will be invited to the same Agape Meal services. Faith In Ohio leaders, after training and engaging in spiritual development, will direct signature gathering events. These signature events will occur at large public gatherings of over 10,000 people. Such events include county fairs, festivals, and large sporting events. In our first year, Faith In Ohio will operate with one paid organizer. This year will be largely oriented towards building institutional relationships. Additionally, our organizer will travel across the state in an old RV collecting signatures at fairs and festivals across the state and conducting impromptu Agape Meal Services. This first year we aspire to collect 50,000 signatures. After demonstrating a year of successful relationship building to our donors, we will hire two additional organizers our second year. In the second year we aspire to collect 150,000 signatures. In our third year we will hire three more organizers and, with the number of institutional partners and trained leaders at its peak, collect the last 300,000 signatures.
Will Citizens Rise to the Occasion? The entire success of Faith In Ohio rests upon a single Â
question: Will citizens rise to the occasion and embrace their democratic responsibilities? If Faith In Ohio was merely a political organizing campaign then the answer to this question would likely be no. Political organizing does not transcend citizen apathy because it does not address the most fundamental causes of our apathy. We cannot yet devote ourselves to civic engagement because we do not feel like we have the power to impact change that we really believe in. In response to the true cause of citizens’ apathy, Faith In Ohio’s organizing campaign is infused with a spiritual practice aimed at defusing civic dread. We hope to tear down civic dread by replacing it with an active practice of civic spirituality. Civic spirituality is, in a sense, a system of belief. At its core, civic spirituality believes that our society’s political functioning should be an expression of our most cherished spiritual values. But, more importantly, civic spirituality is a practice or a way of life. The primary practice of civic spirituality is organizing. Through organizing we experience communion with those we share society with. We realize that the bonds of love extend far beyond our families and our immediate social circles. We experience a new practice of love—one that extends through the political system to people that we will never meet. In this way, we realize a deeper practice of love than we ever thought possible. Remembering the Faith In Ohio prayer, the core of civic spirituality is this: Communing as one body, awakens boundless power. Such democratic Communion is God’s Grace finally Incarnate in politics. Once citizens experience this democratic communion, we can be confident that they will joyfully embrace their civic responsibilities.
Organizing Philosophy Our Organizing Philosophy is modeled on the Christian ideal of servanthood: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,
though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him (Philippians 2: 5-9)
In keeping with the ideal of servanthood, the institutional hierarchy we seek to embody illustrates our organizing philosophy: Citizens are served by Volunteers, who are served by Leaders, who are served by The organizer By the Christian ideal of servanthood, true leaders constantly revoke the power they have in order to empower others. Faith In Ohio’s organizer is primarily responsible for serving the leaders. Specifically the organizer works to make sure that leaders enjoy a life-giving spiritual connection through their work on the campaign. To this end, the organizer facilitates Agape Meals, helps leaders learn more about the political nuances of Faith In Ohio, helps leaders articulate their own theological connection to civic engagement, and equips them with practical organizing skills. Faith In Ohio’s leaders are responsible for serving volunteers. Leaders recruit volunteers from their social networks—school, church, etc. More important than recruitment, leaders are responsible for ensuring that volunteers enjoy a life-giving spiritual connection through their work on the campaign. To this end, leaders inform volunteers of the Mission and Vision of Faith In Ohio, lead Agape Meals for volunteers, and help create meaning at signature gathering events—for example by leading prayer or discussion.
Leadership Development The spiritual development of our leaders is, by far, the most important component of Faith In Ohio. We hope our leaders grow spiritually through Faith In Ohio in the following ways:
Experience the Divine through Civic Communion: Feel, in this way, that each human individual is but a finger or toe of a larger, interconnected organism. And to deepen our sense of purpose by further devoting our lives to justice. Grow as spiritual leaders: Help facilitate a similar spiritual connection for volunteers. And learn to make explicit connections between their own faith traditions and the practice of democracy—and then help others do the same. Learn how to Exercise Democratic Power: To be able to see the means by which electoral power is acquired and exercised. So that leaders can use these methods of power to promote causes of love and justice. One of our dreams is that, once the Own Our Democracy Amendment is passed, our leaders will be among the first grassroots candidates for elected office.
To achieve these ends, Faith In Ohio employs two primary leader development practices: Agape Meal Services and SignatureGathering Events. We trust that leadership is inherent within each individual. As such, leadership is best cultivated, not through teaching, but through experience. During our Agape Meal Services, leaders are invited to explore their own sense of civic spirituality in a generous environment of communion. They, then lead their own Agape Meal Services with friends and family, helping volunteers make the same spiritual connection. During signature-gathering events, leaders learn how to exercise political power. They then exercise their own civic leadership by managing small teams of volunteers. Here, leadership development meets the real world, as leaders endeavor to create a joyful spiritual experience for both volunteers and citizen signatories.
Leader Responsibilities Faith In Ohio leaders learn how to lead the campaign by first participating with the organizer in an Agape Meal service and a signature-gathering event. After these two participatory experiences, and a 1-on-1 meeting with the organizer, leaders get to work leading
their own events. Leaders’ primary responsibility is to recruit and manage a team of eight volunteers to gather 5,000 signatures. The organizer works with the leader to develop a plan of action for this effort. For the sake of illustration, here is a plan of action developed by a leader in Vermilion: 1.
Identify Five Signature-Gathering Events in the County: Fish Festival—30,000 people. Vermilion. 6/17 Vermilion Triathlon—20,000 people. Vermilion 7/9 Erie County Fair (day 1)—50,000 people. Sandusky. 9/2 Erie County Fair (day 3)—50,000 people. Sandusky. 9/2 Wooly Bear Festival—40,000 people. Vermilion. 10/4
Recruit 8 Volunteers: Volunteers are usually family or friends from church or school.
Hold an Information/Training Session for 8 Volunteers: Using the Briefing Book the leader develops a lesson, designed specifically for their volunteers, on the Faith In Ohio campaign. Writing the lesson is a learning opportunity for the leader as well. Typically, the session is a one-hour meeting after church. 4.
Coordinate Five Signature Gathering Events: Make sure four volunteers attend each event and that each volunteer, in addition to the leader, collects 200 signatures (1,000 signatures per event= 5,000 total signatures). 5.
Hold A Concluding Agape Meal Service Invite all eight volunteers. Encourage volunteers to make explicit theological connections to the campaign and enjoy the experience of civic communion.
Faith In Ohio Agape Meal Services Faith In Ohio seeks to develop leaders’ and volunteers’ inert civic spirituality through Agape Meal Services.
Agape is a Greek word that Christians use to describe a deep love of communal fellowship. The earliest Christian worship services were Agape meals where participants from all social stations communed together by praying, sharing stories, and discussing the nature of God’s love. Contemporary Christianity’s practice of Communion is historically derived from these Agape Meals. In this spirit, Faith In Ohio brings together its leaders in regular Agape Meal services. During these Agape Meals we pray, share a story of civic spirituality, and discuss our own spiritual connections to civic engagement.
Through these meals we develop a spiritual Communion of civic leaders that stretches across the state of Ohio. And we deepen our sense of spiritual connection to civic engagement. In the spirit of spiritual unity, our Agape meals are decidedly interfaith services. We hope to unite conservative Christians, liberal Christians, atheists, Jews, Muslims, and agnostics at the same table of civic Communion. Through such diversity we deepen our appreciation of the richness and ever-expanding power of civic unity.
Faith In Ohio: Hope for Democracy Faith In Ohio is much more than a campaign to pass an amendment. We are a movement to recover something precious that
has been lost: Hope for democracy. Without hope, our democracy is lost. Without hope, individual citizens live their lives with a subtle, omnipresent sense of dread. With hope, our democratic possibilities are endless. We might finally heal the generations-old wounds of our society that, until now, we lacked the democratic capacity to tackle: like education, budget, environmental, and financial reform. If we pass our amendment, and if Own Our Democracy proves to be a success, Ohio will become a beacon of hope to the entire world. We will become the most democratic society of our size in human history. Most importantly, Ohio will become the sort of society in which we experience God’s Grace through democracy.
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