Stamp Stampede is a grassroots campaign mobilizing people across the country to stamp messages on American currency in support of passing a constitutional amendment to Get Money Out of Politics. Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, spearheads the campaign. They promote stamping through the distribution of rubber stamps, public stamping activities and national tours in the Stamp Mobile. The rubber stamps include different messages, such as: "Money is not free speech," "Not to be used for bribing politicians," "Corporations are not people; amend the Constitution," and "The system isn’t broken, it's fixed."
Stamp money out of politics
The Stamp Stampede campaign launched in October 2012. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, outside groups, candidates, political parties and Political Action Committees spent over US$6 billion in the 2012 elections, the highest expenditure of any US election. The Stamp Stampede supports a proposed 28th amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and other Supreme Court cases. The proposed amendment declares that money is not free speech and corporations are not people. The Stamp Stampede works in partnership with other groups including American Promise, Move to Amend, Public Citizen and People for the American Way.
On average, dollar bills stay in circulation for five years and pass through approximately 1,750 hands. As Ben Cohen told Wired: "It's a really effective way of breaking through the clutter and interacting with people...I see it as a really cost-effective form of guerrilla marketing." The campaign concluded that every dollar bill is seen by an average of 875 people, meaning that if 100 people stamped ten dollars a day for a year, the messages would reach over 300 million people. Ben Cohen describes it as a "petition on steroids". The campaign drew inspiration from Where's George? which has marked and tracked over 215 million dollars since 1998.
The Stamp Mobile, or Amend-o-Matic, is a Rube Goldberg device mounted on the back of moving van. It was conceived by Ben and Alan Rorie. Users insert a dollar bill, which is then stamped with one of four different messages before being returned to the user. The first national tour was disrupted by Hurricane Sandy and mechanical problems, but the tour was scheduled to continue in 2013.
According to the legal opinion posted on the Stamp Stampede website, the campaign is legal. In an interview with Pioneer Magazine, Ben Cohen notes "It's a fairly commonly held view that putting marks on dollar bills is not legal, but that's not the case." Stamp Stampede argues that the stamping of U.S. currency is protected as "expressive conduct" under the First Amendment as long as it does not promote a specific candidate or business.
- "Stamp Stampede Website".
- NATHAN HURST (2012-10-15). "Ben Cohen's Crazy Money-Marking Contraption". Wired. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- KEN PICARD (2012-11-21). "Ben Cohen Has a Plan to Purge Money from Politics: Stamp It Out". Seven Days. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- "Center for Responsive Politics".
- "Bipartisan case for a Constitutional amendment on campaign finance".
- Pioneer Staff (2012-11-20). "The Ice Cream Man Drives a New Truck". Pioneer Magazine. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- "Move to Amend Website".
- Sarah Meehan (April 4, 2016). "Ben & Jerry give political art contraption to AVAM". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 21, 2017.