Green From the PEOPLE | Teen Ink

Green From the PEOPLE

December 19, 2019
By sarahozeki BRONZE, Carol Stream, Illinois
sarahozeki BRONZE, Carol Stream, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

On this day November 4th, 2019, I, Sarah Ozeki, am seventeen years old.

This means that in one year I will be able to cast my vote for the next President of the United States. In my eyes, it is seen as a tremendous responsibility as a citizen to do my research to pick the right candidate. So that is what I did last year. I immersed myself into the thick jungle that is American politics. It was hard to navigate through all the intertwined vines of our current political system, and I still get tangled up. I first found a clearing on issues that I was already familiar with, such as climate change. But, the vine that always grabbed my leg was why some politicians, especially Republicans, were unbelieving of this obvious global change and why they were unmoving in their stance to right human wrongs. Then, I discovered the answer. Money. I discovered that many candidates for office take money from Political Action Committees, commonly referred to PACs and Super PACs. PACs can raise “big money” for a candidate's campaign and “may receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions” according to the Federal Election Commission. But how do these corporate PACs have anything to do with Republicans’ beliefs in climate change? As quickly discerned the biggest role in politics is not the people, it is money. Money puppeteers the values that America’s lawmakers hold and pull the strings on the nation’s policies more than the will of the people. 

One glaring example of this injustice is Donald Trump, who takes money from the fossil fuel industry. Through PACs and Super PACs and even the companies themselves, Donald Trump received millions of dollars through contributions from the oil and gas sector to fund his 2016 campaign. But, supporting climate change would be a conflict of interest in his affairs with oil and gas companies. If Trump took steps to reverse the damage done to the Earth, he would effectively wound the companies he take money from. So, in order to keep the cash flowing Trump deregulates the fossil fuel industry so that he can stay in bed with these companies. I had lost hope in the nation’s government because if money controlled the values of American democracy, I knew that politicians would work hard to keep their pocketbooks full rather than the wellbeing of the country’s citizens. 

Then, my passion for politics was revitalized when I discovered politicians such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes, Bernie Sanders, and the not-so-well-known, Andrew Yang. These people gave hope to the grave and fundamentally corrupt side of politics I had discovered. They ran Grassroots campaigns. Meaning that they accept “pocket change” from the people. They did not rely on the millions of dollars that Corporate PACs promised. I first discovered Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she won a seat in the House of Representatives. She was especially appealing to me because she was a young woman from the working class who became a representative. And she the solution that grassroots campaigns pose to “big money” politics. Based on, Ocasio-Cortez raised 81.43 percent of her money from small individual contributions and was able to win the election. This way, she did not pledge her allegiance to big companies but instead pledged herself to real Americans who gave her money. One of her biggest accomplishments includes legislature such as the Green-New Deal. This bill takes massive strides towards preventing the melting of the earth’s ice caps, forest fires in California, and Hurricanes every other month. Trump’s climate accomplishments include rejecting the Paris Climate Agreement. 

Another person who helped instill hope in my faith in the nation’s democracy is Bernie Sanders, one of the biggest candidate for the Democratic Party, is running a grassroots campaign. According to, in the third quarter, Sanders is out fundraising Joe Biden, who takes “big money”, by nearly fourteen million dollars. Fourteen million. Another example is Andrew Yang, who had no name recognition coming into the race, is now considered a real contender in the presidential election. He raised 9.9 million dollars in the third quarter and has raised 20 million dollars in the fourth quarter thus far. Candidates and politicians that raise money from small donations shed a beacon of light on the darkness that “big money” politics conjures. 

To be short, the government is supposed to be an institution run by the people and for the people in the United States. We are a representative democracy for crying out loud. That means that politicians in government should reflect the values and address the issues of the American people. Not just a select few that have money. Supporting candidates that run Grassroots campaigns is the way to abolish the era of “big money politics”.

The author's comments:

I wrote this piece because I wanted more people to be aware of when choosing a candidate to endorse for 2020. 

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