DISCUSSION GROUPS

 A good method for examining the ideas presented in Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America is to organize a discussion group of approximately five to ten people, preferably with individuals of differing political views. Members of the group would read a chapter or two and then meet, perhaps weekly or biweekly, to discuss the ideas presented in those chapters and explore possible actions they might take as a result of their reading and discussion.

Below are suggested questions for each chapter that a group might use to stimulate discussion. Use them or feel free to come up with your own set of questions.

Introduction

  1. What is meant by Big Money?
  2. What has been the response of Americans to Big Money taking over our government?
  3. What has been your personal response? Why have you responded as you have?
  4. How do you feel about Big Money’s control of our government, the policies that have resulted from that control and the impact they have on the lives of most Americans?
  5. Why haven’t Americans fought back against Big Money’s takeover of our government?
  6. What prevents you from fighting back?

Chapter One – The Great American Challenge

  1. What is the great political challenge of our time? Why?
  2. What is a plutocracy? Is the United States a plutocracy? Why or why not?
  3. What has been the most effective method that Americans have consistently employed to create dramatic shifts in society and improve people’s lives? Why?
  4. How can we use our sense of connectedness as Americans to meet this great challenge?
  5. As an American do you value your right to self-determination and self-governance? If so, do you have a responsibility to fight Big Money in order for the people to take control of our government?
  6. How can you touch something deeper in yourself that you could call on or would inspire you to meet this challenge?

Chapter Two – Big Money at the Helm

  1. Do our elected officials truly represent the interests of the American people? Why or why not?
  2. Why did our representatives vote to guarantee risky Wall Street ventures after what those same bankers had done in 2008 to crash America’s economy?
  3. Is Sen. Warren correct when she says the system is rigged? Why or why not?
  4. How does Big Money corrupt our political system and what are the destructive effects it has had on our nation?
  5. How would the country be different if our government truly represented the needs and desires of the American people?
  6. How did corporations get so much political power?
  7. How does corporate political power affect you personally? How do you feel about it?

Chapter Three – America Out of Balance

  1. In the development of our public policies, should the common good receive at least as much consideration as the interests of big business? Why or why not?
  2. How great is income inequality in the United States?
  3. How unbalanced/unfair are American laws and policies due to the power of corporate America?
  4. How might employing the principle of balance improve our political process and public policies?
  5. What can we learn from how the ACA was developed and the other examples in this chapter?
  6. How might applying the principle of balance in your life affect Big Money’s grip on America?

Chapter Four – The Lobbying Racket

  1. Should average Americans on all sides of an issue have as much of an opportunity as corporate lobbyists to be heard by our representatives prior to Congress’s voting on public policy? Does the same hold true for Executive Branch decisions?
  2. Who ultimately pays for the lobbying that corporations do? Is that right?
  3. How does lobbying corrupt government policymaking?
  4. What is the revolving door in Washington and how does it influence government?
  5. Should former government officials be permitted to use the influence and contacts they’ve acquired as public employees, paid by the taxpayers, for their private profit?
  6. What is ALEC and how does it corrupt state legislative lawmaking?
  7. Does the way lobbying influences federal and state lawmaking negatively impact your life? How or why not?

Chapter Five — Money Equals Influence and Power

  1. Should Big Money have greater influence in our elections and over our government’s policies than the voters and the American public? Why or why not?
  2. Is money the same as speech and are corporations really people?
  3. Do Big Money and big corporations unduly or unfairly influence the political process?
  4. Should corporations, which by law have the sole purpose of maximizing profits for their shareholders, have the same rights as people under the First Amendment?
  5. Should the amount of money people or corporations contribute to candidates determine the amount of influence they have in an election or with government officials once elected?
  6. Are you going to accept Big Money’s takeover of our country, or will you join in building a democracy movement and actively work to put control of our government in the hands of the people?

Chapter Six – Building a Democracy Movement

  1. Why does a mass movement provide the best opportunity for successfully reviving democracy in America?
  2. Why do people join mass movements?
  3. What are the common elements of mass movements that make them successful?
  4. What are the obstacles to building a successful mass movement?
  5. What obstacles get in your way of becoming actively involved in building a democracy movement?

Chapter Seven — Overcoming Obstacles to Building an Effective Democracy Movement

  1.  How can you overcome each of the obstacles to building an effective democracy movement noted in Chapter Six?
  2. What are the common goals that the movement must focus on? Why?
  3. Are we in a crisis situation that calls for an immediate, extraordinary response?
  4. How could the success of the Democracy Movement benefit you personally?
  5. Is fear preventing you from getting involved in the Democracy Movement?
  6. What would it take for you to become actively involved in building the Democracy Movement?

Chapter Eight – Reviving Democracy in America

  1. What is citizen equality? What does it mean to you in your life?
  2. What is your response to the Call to Revive Democracy in America and the invitation to join the Democracy Movement?
  3. What do you think of the proposed mission and goals of the Democracy Movement?
  4. Can we unite everyone under one coordinated movement? What will it take?
  5. Why must gerrymandering and the Electoral College be eliminated?
  6. How can we protect and strengthen voters’ rights?
  7. Are you willing to help build the Democracy Movement to make these changes in our political system?

Chapter Nine – The Way Forward

  1. Can the American people come together, eliminate the corrupting influence of money in our government and build a truly representative democracy before Big Money has virtually total control of our country?
  2. How can the emerging Democracy Movement persuade millions of disaffected Americans that their active involvement in the political process will make a transformative difference?
  3. What’s the relationship between income inequality and political inequality?
  4. How do we instill in ourselves and each other the revolutionary spirit needed to revive democracy in America?
  5. Are you willing to help organize a DOC, a democracy organizing committee, in your community? If yes, what steps will you take? If no, why not?
  6. What could a DOC achieve in your community in 2016?
  7. Can the Democracy Movement build on its 2016 actions and become stronger and more effective beyond 2016? Will you help do that?

Chapter Ten – We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

  1. Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone; devote time, energy and resources; and forcefully fight for major reforms to revive democracy in America?
  2. What are Big Money’s flawed values?
  3. What unconventional strategies and tactics might the Democracy Movement employ against Big Money?
  4. Do you believe that the underdog, the people, can come together and defeat the giant, Big Money?
  5. Is the United States at a crossroads? What are our choices?
  6. Are you willing to help spread the message of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America? How?

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