Free Speech For People (FSFP) and Money Out Voters In (MOVI) hosted a house party on Sunday, April 10, at the home of actress Debra Winger in Los Angeles, California. FSFP and MOVI discussed the latest updates on the fight to defend our democracy, including FSFP’s work in the courts to challenge big money in politics and unchecked corporate power and our joint work in California on a ballot measure calling for a 28th Amendment to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy.

Speakers for the event included Debra Winger, Congressman Ted Lieu, Free Speech For People Co-Founder and Board Chair Jeff Clements, and Michele Sutter, Co-Founder of Money Out Voters In.

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(FSFP Co-Founder and Board Chair Jeff Clements, Congressman Ted Lieu, Actress Debra Winger, and FSFP Co-Founder and President John Bonifaz at our LA house party on April 10, 2016, at Debra Winger’s home. Photo courtesy of Barry Levine.)

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33rd District) spoke to the urgency of overhauling our broken campaign finance system, focusing on the opportunity for people in California cast their votes in support of a 28th Amendment.

Tweets below captured moments from the speakers.

Debra Winger, who generously opened her home for the event, spoke on the shifting tides of our democracy and the silencing effect of money in politics. The full text of Debra’s remarks is shared below:

“In 1974, Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann introduced an influential theory she called the Spiral of Silence. In it, she takes a look at the political and social behavior of the time.

The theory suggested that individuals, afraid of feeling isolated, monitor their environments to see whether their beliefs align with or contradict the ‘ambient majority’ opinion. And then, her theory says, that when one senses a climate of opinion that has shifted away from their own, that person’s willingness to speak out is reduced. Over time, this leads to silence, a spiraling down of minority attitudes and it poses an existential threat to healthy democratic discourse.

Now, six years after the Citizens United decision, we’re seeing that, in fact, what the Supreme Court decision said about lifting certain restrictions on corporate campaign contributions enabling greater free speech has actually had the opposite effect, in the state and local elections with the highest level of unrestricted corporate money flow – individual donations to candidates reached their lowest level in decades.

It’s as if the more we sense the tidal waves of money poured into the waters around us, the weaker our individual voices feel.

But we’re here because the tides are shifting – this coming week there will be sit-ins to protest the role of money in politics – our conversations have all been happening against the backdrop of a lively primary season that has brought these and other issues to the forefront and has involved millions of new voters.

But even as the political debate intensifies we have to be careful not to pour our individual voices only into the choice between candidates – instead it becomes even more important to speak openly about our concerns – many of which we find to be shared across the political spectrum, in new and interesting ways so that we can perhaps write our way out of the fiction of our current spiral and into the reality of WE THE PEOPLE.”

Jeff Clements, the third speaker for the evening, introduced our work in the courts to challenge the influence of big money and unchecked corporate power.  And, he talked about our ongoing work helping to lead the growing national movement for a 28th Amendment.

Michele Sutter, co-founder of MOVI, closed out the speakers with a passionate appeal to guests to get involved with the California ballot measure calling for a 28th Amendment.  Michele shared a history of the ballot measure, including: its removal by the California Supreme Court from the November 2014 ballot; our victory before the California Supreme Court this past January reversing that prior ruling; and our current work in the California Legislature to restore the measure to the November 2016 ballot for voters to have their say.

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(Actress Debra Winger, Congressman Ted Lieu, MOVI Co-Founder Michele Sutter, and Actress Mimi Kennedy at our LA house party on April 10, 2016, at Debra Winger’s home. Photo courtesy of Barry Levine.)

Our Los Angeles house party was a huge success and a great opportunity to connect long-time supporters to those new to the dialogue.

We thank Debra Winger for graciously hosting us and for standing with us in this fight to reclaim our democracy.