The first amendment to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Of the five rights spoken of in this amendment the last one “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is seldom spoken of. It essentially says that as citizens of the United States, if we have issue with our government we are permitted to bring these issues to the government and be heard.
This is a fundamental principle of English Common Law. It dates back to the Magna Carta; it is addressed in the Declaration of Independence in the line:
“In every stage of these Oppressions We have petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
In the mid 1830’s there were 130,000 requests to the Congress to advocate for the end to slavery. In fact in 1836 the Congress imposed a “Gag Rule” that tabled all anti-slavery petitions. John Quincy Adams and members of the House were able in 1844 to repeal this gag rule citing that it ran contrary to the rights granted in the first amendment.
In our early years of our Union and even during the Civil War and beyond, citizens of the United States were able to petition the government for redress of grievances with little obstruction. They were not only able to go directly to Congress to meet with their House or Senate member, they were able to proceed to the White House and meet with the President himself.
In today’s world, in theory you have the right to contact your member of the House or Senate via letter, text, phone, fax, email, etc. In reality very few of these “petitions” make it to that member. Instead they end up with some aid. The same is true for the President. Lobbyists have first crack and have time scheduled to meet with our “representatives” in Congress, sadly very few of us poor ordinary citizens share in that perk.
The recent election and the fact that nearly $6,000,000,000.00 was spent on the midterms gave me an idea. Most of this money actually came from a few billionaires, corporate executives (both foreign and domestic) that thanks to Citizen’s United can provide unlimited funds to our representatives to spend for campaigning to get us ordinary people to vote for them. These handful of people control the “free speech” in the form of money to get certain people of their choosing elected to the government to serve. Whether they serve their constituents or those who provide them money on a national level is something left to the imagination of the beholder.
The Koch brothers funded 44,000 political ads for their candidates in 2014:
To the tune of over $100,000,000.00:
They are obviously one of the major coordinators of our representatives in Congress and State Houses across the country. Another lobbying group, The National Rifle Association spent $11,500,000.00 on Senate and Governor Races across the country in 2014:
And the list goes on. Major corporations, lobbying groups and billionaires funding friendly Senate, House, Governor, State House candidates across the country who are simply expected to cater to their redress of grievances. Open Secrets is a good site to get a bigger picture, though still incomplete due to Citizen’s United about these organizations and people:
So rather wasting time talking to a low level aid in Washington DC or your State capital to petition your government for a redress of grievances as guaranteed by the first amendment of the United States Constitution, why not go straight to the source? Let’s contact these people and organizations directly. They have the resources, the money, the staff to hear our issues with government and they obviously have more power over them than the people they theoretically represent.
So you have issues about Climate Change, Polluted Water, Air, and Land. Destroyed infrastructure petition Koch Industries at:
You have issues about Gun Sense, Gun Violence, Lack of full Universal Background Checks, Keeping weapons away from criminals, mentally disturbed, foreign nationals, contact the NRA at:
Check out Open Secrets, see what organizations and people fund which candidates on which issue and if it’s an issue you wish to petition the government for redress, contact the donor base regularly, insistently and get your family and friends to join in. Send them your letters, faxes, texts, call them, and go see them in person. Hey, these are the guys funding your government so they should be able to hear from you regarding you first amendment right to petition for redress. To deny you such a right would be unconstitutional.
Let’s get started on this now and through to 2016 and beyond. They want to own our government; they need to listen to us.