by Ken Dammand
The issue of money’s corrupting effects on our democracy has been aired with unprecedented clarity in this year’s presidential primary with virtually every candidate mentioning the need for reform. On the left, Bernie Sanders has made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. Even Lindsey Graham, a bastion of the right, openly called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Every poll shows the public is united in its feelings of betrayal by the current pay to play system. And the recent actions by Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening, including the arrest of our own Executive Director, Alice Woldt, and hundreds of others supporting campaign finance reform, have finally convinced congressional democrats that it’s time to bring this issue to the forefront.
So what do they plan to do?…..
This summer senate democrats, led by Senator Chuck Schumer will be introducing a package of pro-Democracy bills. The specifics are still in the planning stages but it is anticipated that they will be similar to bills that have been introduced previously in Congress but will receive greater publicity and effort on the part of our Democratic Representatives and Senators.
We expect that the package will include the following bills or similar new bills:
A proposal to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United. (There are 13 already on the books in this Congress. See United for the People for detailed information on them.)
The Disclose Act which would require real disclosure of the individuals contributing to third party “independent” political ads.
The Federal Elections Administration Act which would do away with the current Federal Elections Commission and replace it with a new commission that is less prone to being paralyzed by partisan infighting and will have greater ability to actually enforce election rules.
The FAIR Act (ending gerrymandering by establishing independent commissions to draw district lines).
The Fair Elections Now Act , providing public funding for federal elections.
Additionally, bills specifically directed at increasing voter turnout and re-establishing parts of the Voting Rights Act that were devastated by recent Supreme Court decisions are expected.
We are hopeful that our elected officials of both parties are finally beginning to perceive the depth of public outrage at the destruction of democracy for the purpose of partisan advancement. It is our job to keep the fire burning under Congress until real reforms are accomplished.