Democracy Matters: basketball, politics, and you!

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By Joan Mandle

Ten years ago, Adonal Foyle, the veteran NBA center who played for 13 years with such teams as the Golden State Warriors and the Orlando Magic, founded a new non-partisan student organization, Democracy Matters. His idea was to give college students a voice in the important issues of the day.

Each year Democracy Matters selects 50 universities, and this year Union College is one of them.

Democracy Matters is totally non-partisan. At Union, Democracy Matters is working to make sure that everyone has a say in our democracy.

Foyle, who was the eighth pick in the first round of the 1997 draft, earned a reputation throughout his NBA career for being an outspoken advocate for political change.

“I started Democracy Matters because I knew that students weren’t apathetic about politics like everyone said. They cared about the environment, about at-risk kids, about rising tuition, about civil rights, about all kinds of things. But they didn’t have a concrete way to work for real change—to really make a difference. Democracy Matters gives them that chance,” Foyle says.

Democracy Matters believes that the dominance of big special interest money is undermining our political system. Democracy Matters students will be working to curb the influence of corporate and big money contributions on politicians. Did you know that during last presidential election that over five billion dollars was spent? Foyle wants elections to be about ideas and solving our country’s problems—not about who can raise the most money.

In Maine, Arizona, Connecticut, North Carolina and elsewhere ordinary citizens can run for office without having to raise money from special interests. In these states, candidates have an option to get public financing for their of campaigns so that ordinary Americans—not just the rich—can run for office. Young people are also elected to office.

With a public financing option in place, over 80% of some legislatures are composed of people who haven’t taken a penny from any big contributors or lobbyists. Just think, you too could run for office and get to change the things you are passionate about.

But Adonal and Democracy Matters at Union need your help right now to make this happen. Join us this year and learn what it feels like to make a real difference, and have fun doing it. If you’re interested please contact Union’s campus leaders, Gabriella Levine or Dudley Okongo, or check out www.democracymatters.org.

As Foyle says, “If you are worried about where Congress is taking us today, about rising tuition, about getting a job after college, and about lots of other issues, Democracy Matters is the group for you.”

We want your elected representatives to hear YOUR voice. We want to build a government of, by and for the American people—not one dominated by big corporate money.

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