Last week Free Speech For People traveled to Detroit for the 7th annual Netroots Nation conference featuring keynote speakers Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Rev. William Barber, the preacher behind North Carolina’s Moral Mondays.

The keynote speakers all made points to include our current campaign finance system and how it requires dire reform. When Warren discussed Citizens United and stated, “Corporations are not people” it brought the entire crowd to their feet. Watch her full keynote speech below.

This sentiment was felt and shared amongst the Netroots crowd throughout the conference, from attendees like Eric below, who hails from Chicago, IL.


 Eric Price, activist & App developer, shows his support wearing “Corporations Are Not People” button

There was also a panel dedicated to money in politics, led by People For The American Way’s Executive Vice President’s Marge Baker. It uniquely featured the perspective of current candidates running for office and their thoughts about the current system. A major theme of the panel focused on how candidates can and have won on public funding of their campaigns in the past.

As Derek Cressman, a candidate for Secretary of State in CA in 2014, noted that in light of the fact that people across political parties feel so strongly about big money’s influence on politics, that “candidates need to start running on the platform of campaign finance reform.” It also featured panelists Shenna Bellows, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine, Rick Weiland a Sioux Falls small businessman and the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in South Dakota, and Kelly Westlund who is running for Congress in Wisconsin.


Money In Politics Panel, Netroots Nation, 2014


Staff from Free Speech For People, 99Rise, People For The American Way, Demos, and Derek Cressman stand together in support of “One Person One Vote”

Outside of the conference, thousands of people from Detroit, Netroots Nation, as well as actor Mark Ruffalo, pictured below, joined together to protest the city’s water shut off for residents and businesses. The city ramped up the shutoffs as it seeks to collect an estimated $90 million in past-due water bills. Roughly 90,000 Detroit residents have outstanding accounts, with about 17,000 residents currently on payment plans. In just a day after the protest, the city has announced they will turn on the water for 15 days in light of the action to give residents the access to water they deserve.

From this it was clear that we can learn from the action at Netroots that when people come together, it can have direct impact. It can change the hearts and minds of those in power, to create real meaning for the people at large. It was so inspiring to see thousands of people come together around both ideas and action, and to see how it can translate and influence real change.

We look forward to bringing the new ideas learned from the conference into our work and continuing to uphold the collective aspiration shared by so many at Netroots and across the country around upholding values of justice and democracy.