Movement for Black Lives demands a better democracy

Written by Nisha Behrman, Common Cause Intern on August 5, 2016

Good news! Leaders from the Black Lives Matter Movement are putting democracy reform issues into their policy platform.

The Movement for Black Lives, an organization including more than 60 advocacy groups that are part of the movement, recently released "A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice." The platform includes six core demands and 40 policy priorities. One of the demands,“Political Power,”  calls for “a remaking of the current U.S. political system in order to create a real democracy where Black people and all marginalized people can effectively exercise full political power.”

To achieve this vision, the agenda demands:

  • the end of money controlling politics;
  • voting rights;
  • universal access to the internet.

The platform also calls for overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and for sensible limits on big money in elections.

The Movement for Black lLives says these reforms are necessary to improve the lives of African Americans. “The dominance of big money in our politics makes it far harder for poor and working-class Black people to exert political power and effectively advocate for their interests as both wealth and power are consolidated by a small, very white, share of the population,” the platform asserts.

The Movement for Black Lives partnered with Demos, a New York-based reform group, on research which demonstrates that the underrepresentation of Black people is partially driven by constraints on their entry onto the ballot. The research concluded that “although people of color are 37 percent of the U.S. population, 90 percent of our elected leaders are white. White men are just 31 percent of the population but 65 percent of elected officials. At the other end of the spectrum, women of color hold just 4 percent of elected positions in spite of being 19 percent of the population.”

To reach their goals, the Movement for Black Lives provided numerous solutions that people can promote on a local, state, and national level. They support implementation of public finance systems to pay for state and local political campaigns, plus initiatives such as the Government By the People Act (H.R.20) and the Fair Elections Now Act (S.2023), that would allow congressional candidates to run successful campaigns with a base of small dollar donors.

The release of these policy demands comes as the Black Lives Matter movement approaches the two-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an African-American man whose death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, MO helped propel the movement to national prominence. The demands signify the movement’s growth and vision for the next presidential administration and Congress.

Common Cause agrees that these reforms would strengthen our democracy so that it can best represent everyone.  For more information, visit the Movement for Black Lives website and their Political Power demands section.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

Tags: Fighting Big Money, Empowering Small Donors

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