From delicious ice cream created and marketed in a healthy, sustainable and socially responsible way, to a creative campaign to get money out of politics, Ben & Jerry’s lead the way
Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream has long been a standard at my house for delicious and decadent desserts. Ice cream that turns into a love fest for your taste buds and your overall feeling of well- being and satisfaction. It is a great weekend treat (perfect for a dessert on weekends only system) and provides and affordable luxurious get-away in place for one and all.
We all have our favorite falovors and there are plenty of great combinations to choose from (mine is New York Super Fudge Chunk, but I will not turn down Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Imagine Whirled Peace, Cheesecake Brownie (you get the theme here!) and…
While I can safely say that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (who launched Ben & Jerry’s in 1978), changed the way we think of ice cream and brought millions of us physical and emotional delights with their genius creations, they also set the standard for running a Values and Socially Conscious business, leading the way for others to follow. A few examples:
1. Original scoop shop made of recycled materials
2. “Green Team” focused on environmental education throughout the company
3. Company bus equipped with solar panels
4. Hormone-free milk in products
5. Commitment to reducing solid and dairy waste, recycling, and water and energy conservation in all facilities
But as meaningful as their contributions were and are to our culture and society, Ben Cohen’s new project to transform politics in America, will eclipse previous substantial contributions by a large margin, and then some.
The campaign Ben Cohen launched, kicked off by the Citizen United decision (which opened the door for unlimited sums to be spent by corporations/organizations on ads and other political tools with no disclosure of donors required), is focused on fully reforming the U.S. campaign finance law, via a constitutional amendment. The campaign is called “The Stampede” and it’s designed to create a movement and rally support for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and take money out of politics.
In a phone interview on Thursday September 4, 2014 with Salon staff political reporter Elias Isquith , Ben Cohen explained his campaign, status and goals. Here are a few highlights:
What it’s about – “Stampede is essentially a petition on steroids. We call it monetary Jiu-Jitsu. We’re using money to get money out of politics, and essentially we’re turning money into media. Stampede sells rubber stamps online, essentially at cost, and people buy one of those stamps and then they stamp messages on paper currency that says one of three major statements:
1. “Not to be used for bribing politicians, amend the Constitution”
2. “Stamp money out of politics, amend the Constitution”
3. “Not to be used for buying elections, amend the Constitution“
The beauty of this is…if you stamp a piece of money with your statement, 900 people see each bill that you stamp, as it gets put in circulation and passed from hand-to-hand. The numbers are kind of amazing: If one person stamps three bills a day for a year, that message gets seen by about a million people. It’s actually very powerful. As long as the Supreme Court rules money is speech, corporations and the wealthy are using it by giving piles of it to politicians to pass or not pass laws they want. Now, the rest of the people, [those] who don’t have money, can actually make their voice heard by using money to stamp a message out.
Role of Stampede – We have two jobs [in] The Stampede: One is to get more people to buy stamps, and the other is to motivate people who have stamps to keep stamping. The word we use is “TKITKOS” – the key is to keep on stamping. So we have partnerships with People for the American Way, with Public Citizen, with Root Striker, with Represent.us, with the New Hampshire Rebellion, etc. I’d say the huge majority of the major organizations that are working on this have promoted stamps to their members.
Disclosure vs. Money Out – I don’t think [disclosure] has a very significant effect on the situation. So, no, I would not feel satisfied with disclosure. I believe very strongly that in order to fix what the huge majority of people in the country would tell you is a broken system, we need to get money our of politics.
Democrats and Republicans, same? – Money does dominate both parties. The interesting thing is that, when you poll the population, 90-something percent of people want to get money out of politics…The grass roots of both parties really want to get money out of politics. But when you get to the leaders of the parties, the people in Congress, you’ve got most of the Democrats saying, “Yeah, let’s get money out of politics,” and you’ve got just about all of the Republicans–except about one or two–saying, “We can’t do that because money is free speech.”
Ben Cohen’s idea is to get states to test resolutions in favor of getting money out of politics (in favor of a constitutional amendment), which is the route for a constitutional convention. The other route is to call on Congress to pass the amendment. Are you in favor of a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics, and if so, which route is your preferred one?