SAVING OUR DEMOCRACY: CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM & VOTING RIGHTS

Our democracy is drowning in the polluted waters of money in politics. Financial special interests are killing our democracy. In order to save our democracy, we must achieve comprehensive campaign finance reform. Money in politics has rendered Congress stagnate and ineffective in response to peoples’ demand for responsible laws regarding issues such as education, health care, the environment, gun violence prevention, the privatization of our prisons, protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare, and rebuilding and modernizing our national infrastructure. Our ability to enact laws in the interest of the people is limited when policymakers listen to select and corrupt financial interests rather than the people they are supposed to represent. The Supreme Court decision in favor of Citizens United was a disaster for our democracy and has severely undermined the very purpose of Congress and the public’s trust in government. I support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and restrict the corrupting influence of money in politics.

I therefore support bills such as HR-1, the “For The People Act”, which passed the House in early 2019. We need more transparency and regulation of the obscene amount of money spent on elections by corporations and other special interest groups. Our democratic process is threatened by the money flowing into both parties for elections, and it must be reined in through sensible legislation such as HR-1. We also must also fight voter suppression and policies that disproportionately make it more difficult for young people, our working poor, and people of color to vote and participate in our democracy. Politics should never make it more difficult for citizens to exercise their right to vote.

Today, we are facing a national crisis that can best be defined as a lack of public trust in government and a lack of true representation for the people. The public’s eroding trust in government has been a problem for several decades now. [1]In 1973, according to Gallup polling, 42% of the country had a great deal of confidence or quite a lot of confidence in Congress as an institution. Today, just 11% of the country has a great deal of confidence or quite a lot of confidence in Congress. The average member of Congress is forced to spend inexcusable amounts of time each day calling donors for money than they do legislating, meeting with constituents, or learning about the key issues on which they are voting. Lobbyists wield too much power in Washington D.C. and in state capitals throughout the country. We must end the revolving door between people who serve in government and then obtain lucrative jobs as special interests lobbyists.

We need to be doing everything we can to assure that citizens are able to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. We must remove barriers that disenfranchise voters. I will encourage oversight and legislative initiatives consistent with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, in order to expand upon, not limit its protections. I will support legislation to expand voting rights by removing discriminatory voter identification requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters and voters in impoverished communities. I would support expanding early voting hours and the number of polling locations, particularly in low-income and minority neighborhoods. I also support the provision in HR-1, the “For The People Act”, which would make Election Day a national holiday so that no citizen is disenfranchised by their work schedule or other obligations. Finally, I will support automatic voter registration for all individuals upon turning age 18. We are already seeing an increase in civic engagement and participation from states that have enacted automatic voter registration. We must make this a federal policy.

[1] Gallup Poll: Confidence in Institutions, https://news.gallup.com/poll/1597/confidence-institutions.aspx