Nine years ago, Adonal Foyle, the veteran NBA center who played last year with the Orlando Magic, founded the national student organization, Democracy Matters.’ This year Democracy Matters will be making its message known right here at Boston University.
Foyle played most of his career in California with the Golden State Warriors before coming to Orlando in 2007. Throughout his career, he has earned a reputation 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,’ Foyle said. ‘They cared about the environment, about at-risk kids, about rising tuition, about all kinds of things. But they didn’t have a concrete way to work on changing things ‘- to really make a difference. Democracy Matters gives them that chance.’
Democracy Matters is totally non-partisan. That means it is independent from political party squabbling and doesn’t support candidates running for office. What it will be doing at Boston University is working to make sure that everyone ‘- especially young people ‘-have a say in our democracy.’
Foyle believes that the dominance of big special interest money is undermining our political system. So Democracy Matters students will be working on voter and same-day registration and on curbing the influence of corporate and big money contributions on politicians. Did you know that over $5 billion was spent on the election campaigns of 2008?’ Foyle wants elections to be about ideas; not about who can raise the most money. As he puts it: ‘We need to get big money out of politics and people back in. . . and we can do it!’
‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ A model that is already working well ‘- in Maine, Arizona, Connecticut, North Carolina and elsewhere ‘- is a public financing option. With it, ordinary citizens can run for office without having to raise money from special interests.’ Last November, eight people in Maine and four in Connecticut under the age of 30 were elected using the public financing option. Today over 80 percent of both legislatures are composed of people who haven’t taken a penny from big contributors. With this system, you too could run for office and get to change the things you are passionate about.
As Foyle says: ‘Whether you care about health care, education, the war in Afghanistan, college tuition, or the rising unemployment rate, Democracy Matters is the group for you. We want to make sure that the politicians making critical decisions are listening more to us than to their big funders.’ True democracy is within our grasp. All we have to do is reach out there and grab it.