THE BLOG

Why I'm Spending $900 Million in 2016 -- And You Should Too

02/10/2015 08:26 am ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015
Sasha_Suzi via Getty Images

As an American citizen, I believe that it is my responsibility to participate fully and actively in the democratic process and to stand up for the policies and values I believe in. That is why I have decided to spend $900 million on the 2016 election, and why I encourage everyone who cares about democracy to do the same.

I must admit, I had not originally planned to spend $900 million on the 2016 election. As recently as last month, I had planned on spending a significantly more modest sum, in the range of -- say -- fifty bucks. But then I read that the Koch Brothers had announced plans to spend $900 million on the 2016 elections, and I realized the extent to which I was shirking my own responsibilities as a citizen.

You see, $900 million may sound like a lot of money. But according to the Supreme Court, it's not. It's a lot of speech. And speech is the very lifeblood of our democracy. It is through speech that we represent our interests, argue for our beliefs, and settle our disputes. The Koch Brothers understand this. Their unprecedented commitment to purchase $900 million worth of speech stands as a shining example of engaged citizenship and democratic participation.

Yet tragically it seems that few of us are prepared to emulate the Koch brothers' example. On the contrary, in spite of the vital need for robust political engagement on issues from security to the economy to the environment -- issues that affect all of us -- the average American seems content to engage in as little as $25 or $50 worth of speech per election, which in the context of the Koch's $900 million in loquaciousness is basically no speech at all.

We can do better, and we must. Indeed, we must each do $900 million better if we are to return our democracy to full and vibrant health, for surely the Founding Fathers intended that all citizens should have a voice in the a public square, a chance to be heard by our fellow citizens and representatives. That is why the constitution guarantees every one of us, regardless of race, sex, religion, or income level, an equal right to spend $900 million on speech. But it is up to us to exercise that right -- or cede our political fortunes to those who do.

I have heard the excuses: "I'm too busy." "Politics just doesn't interest me." "I don't have $900 million." The list goes on. But the truth is, if you believe in America, then there really is no excuse for not spending $900 million and joining the great American experiment that is our democracy.

So if you are frustrated at the gridlock in Washington, don't just wait and hope things improve. Stand up and speak $900 million worth of your mind! If you are a worker struggling to support your family on wages that have stagnated for years, don't give in to hopelessness. America needs to hear $900 million worth of your story! If you're concerned about growing inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics, don't wait for others to act. Be the $900 million of change you want to see in the world.

Together, we can speak trillions of dollars worth of truth to power. The choice is ours to make. But in making that choice, we must never forget the immortal words of the ancients, now permanently enshrined in law by our Supreme Court: Pecunia loquitur, merda taurorum ambulat.