Student creates organization to foster fair politics, encourage voting, offer internships
Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan organization, emerged on campus a month ago, but the group’s president, Nicole Hanson, said students are already expressing interest.
The organization’s goal is to “get big money out of politics,” according to the Democracy Matters Web site.
“We’re trying to promote clean and fair elections and make it possible for politicians to run elections without taking money from big corporations,” Hanson said.
By refusing donations from corporations, Hanson said politicians don’t have to answer to those corporations and instead can answer to the public.
“The public is a larger percent of the people, but they don’t get a voice because they don’t have as much money as these big corporations,” she said.
Democracy Matters won’t be supporting a particular candidate in the upcoming presidential election because it’s a nonpartisan group, but Hanson said the organization will sponsor activities for students before the election.
Some of the activities include a voter registration drive starting within the next few weeks, Hanson said.
“We want people to know they can register here on campus,” she said. “If we have enough people involved, we’re going to try to drive people where they need to vote, because some students, especially freshmen, don’t have any way to get where they need to go.”
Other activities include various movie nights and poster-making parties, but the group’s major event will occur next semester.
“We want to do some sort of concert to get some local groups out on the quad and let them show their talents while we get our message out,” Hanson said.
As a campus-based project of nonpartisan lobbying group Common Cause, Democracy Matters offers internships to students interested in starting a Democracy Matters chapter at their schools. As an intern, Hanson gets paid to run a chapter at Bradley.
“I liked [the group’s] message and I wanted to be a part of spreading it,” Hanson said.
She said Democracy Matters has been successful since it’s inception on campus.
“We have a core group of about 15 students who are really committed to being involved,” she said. “We’re starting to get the word out, and people are wanting to know more about what it is we stand for.”
Junior organizational communication major Jenny Durham said she likes the group’s mission, but isn’t sure it will accomplish its goals.
“In theory, taking big money out of politics is a great idea – more people’s voices will be heard,” she said. “But in reality, there’s no other way for politicians to get enough money to support a humongous campaign. They have to rely on those corporations to give them huge donations to reach enough people to get their votes.”