Jeff Clements: How People, Not Money, can Govern America

Ryan Honeyman
4 min readSep 14, 2022

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Corporations, wealthy donors, and special interest groups have always had a disproportionate impact on elections, but their sway has dramatically increased since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010 with negative repercussions for the fight against political corruption and American democracy itself.

Today’s guest is Jeff Clements, who serves as President of American Promise, a fast-growing, cross-partisan network of Americans working to win the next amendment to the US Constitution so that people, not money, govern America. Jeff has practiced law for three decades in public service and private practice and is the author of Corporations Are Not People: Reclaiming Democracy From Big Money and Global Corporations, a must-read for anyone who is sick and tired of the reign of corporate super-citizens in American politics.

In this discussion, Jeff outlines the strange history of the Citizens United ruling, the ongoing destructive effects that it is having, and the growing movement to reverse it. We take a look at the damage done to America and its people by the concentrated political power of billionaires and global corporations that spend money to dominate debate and influence election outcomes. We also explore some of the creative strategies and tools that the American people are using to renew democracy and curb unbalanced corporate power. Make sure to tune in today to learn more!

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Key Points From This Episode:

  • Insight into Jeff’s legal background and what led him to American Promise. [0:03:24]
  • Examining the broad support for a bipartisan constitutional amendment to get big money out of politics and restore democratic power to the people. [0:08:55]
  • A non-partisan look at the massive, multibillion dollar operation that we call elections. [0:14:06]
  • The real threat of oligarchy as the ‘donor class’ becomes increasingly concentrated. [0:20:18]
  • Attainable timelines and outcomes for American Promise that transcend politics. [0:22:24]
  • Writing the 28th Amendment and American Promise’s strategy for earning support. [0:26:45]
  • How to join American Promise’s network of civically responsible business leaders. [0:32:18]
  • Understanding why we require a systemic solution for a systemic problem. [0:37:41]
  • The deeper significance of working toward a shared bipartisan vision for America. [0:38:53]

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Tweetables:

“Free speech [and] equal representation in our political system are both values that belong to all Americans. We have the ability and the right to enact reasonable, effective regulations of corporate money and other money in elections.” — @ClementsJeff [0:08:17]

“In a very divided time, you have to unite republicans, democrats, independents. You have to get wins along the way. [You have to] build massive pressure to overcome the immense obstacle that is Congress; and we are doing that. We’re doing all those things.” — @ClementsJeff [0:13:40]

“The level of cynicism and nastiness of this stuff is not just to be bemoaned because it’s ridiculous or offensive. It actually has an impact on our political system.” — @ClementsJeff [0:19:28]

“The concentration of the money is as big a problem as the amount and how it’s spent.” — @ClementsJeff [0:22:19]

“Some of our most impactful advocates are local and national businesspeople who are managing their businesses for impact and improvement of environment and society.” — @ClementsJeff [0:33:03]

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Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Jeff Clements on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-clements/

Jeff Clements on Twitter: https://twitter.com/clementsjeff

Corporations Are Not People: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781626562103

American Promise: https://americanpromise.net/

American Promise Business Network: https://americanpromise.net/business-network/

National Citizen Leadership Conference: https://nclc.info/

High Conflict: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781982128562

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Ryan Honeyman

Partner at LIFT Economy. B Corp Nerd. Coauthor of “The B Corp Handbook” and "The Next Economy MBA." Co-host of "Beyond the B" and "Next Economy Now" podcasts.