Statesman Journal (Op-Ed): A bill of, by and ‘For the People’
Statesman Journal (Op-Ed): A bill of, by and 'For the People'
But it will take more than that. Our democracy was, and continues to be, under attack, and we must immediately fix it.
The U.S. House of Representatives will soon be voting on H.R. 1, the For the People Act, the most transformative democracy reform package since the Watergate era. This comprehensive set of democratic reforms and anti-corruption measures will protect and expand the right to vote, reduce the role of big money in politics, end racial and partisan gerrymandering and amplify the voices of hard-working Americans.
We call on the entire Oregon congressional delegation to work together to get this profoundly important legislation passed. Here in Salem, Oregon’s 5th congressional district, that means we need Rep. Kurt Schrader’s support.
Fortunately, Schrader has a good record on democracy reform during his time in Congress and was an early supporter of the For the People Act, which includes his bill to ensure that big donors and special interests cannot secretly try to buy influence with incoming presidential administrations. The For the People Act also includes provisions to empower small donors in our congressional elections so that elected officials do not need to rely on big-dollar donors to run competitive elections.
The matching fund system in the For the People Act incentivizes small donations and amplifies the voices of everyday Oregonians.
Instead of congressional candidates relying on wealthy special interests to fund their campaigns, small donors who pitch in $10, $20 or $50 have their contributions multiplied, putting them on par with big donors. Under H.R. 1, nurses, firefighters and teachers can become the “big donors” and have their voices amplified. Additionally, this system can help more individuals from traditionally underrepresented communities run for federal office and amplify the voices of communities of color.
The small-donor provisions in the For the People Act are funded by fines and fees assessed on corporate bad actors who violate the law. Taxpayer dollars are not used for the program. To have a functioning democracy, “we the people” need to know our voices matter — not just the wealthy and well-connected.
That is what the small-donor reforms of the For the People Act accomplish and what Oregonians expect. Just last year, Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 107 to move toward getting big money out of state politics.
However, until we fix our broken democracy at the national level, it’s much harder to fully address so many critical issues that are important to Oregonians, such as protecting our environment, stopping gun violence and improving health care for everyone.
Special interests and vote suppressors have a stranglehold on the status quo and want to block significant change.
We urge Schrader and the Oregon congressional delegation to exercise political leadership, protect our democracy and pass the For the People Act.
Kate Titus is the executive director of Common Cause Oregon. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org