Common Cause Praises Obama’s Call for Political Civility, Respect, and Reform

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman

President Obama’s call today for ‘a better politics,’ delivered in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, was an eloquent summons to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature,” Common Cause President Miles Rapoport said Wednesday.

“The President’s plea for civility and mutual respect between Democrats and Republicans is particularly timely in this election year,” Rapoport said. “And the steps he suggested to make our democracy work for every citizen reflect much of the agenda Common Cause has pursued since our founding.

“I believe Americans are making a statement in early primary and caucus states and the President Obama used today’s speech to drive home their message: Our democracy is out of balance. It should be about people, not party or money, and together – with mutual respect and understanding — we can fix it. We want a democracy that works for and reflects the views of all Americans.”  

Rapoport said the President’s push for automatic voter registration of every eligible American “is a promising start. Everyone has a right to participate in a representative democracy and automatic voter registration provides an opportunity to exercise that right. Improvements in registration recording and record-keeping make it possible for this to be done at a reasonable cost and with no compromise to the integrity of our elections.”

When Americans are registered to vote they’re invested in our democracy. In 2012, more than 84 percent of those registered went to the polls but only 54 percent of those eligible were registered. Millions of people were so disenchanted with our politics that they opted out; millions more were excluded by the barriers some states have erected to their participation, from restrictive voter ID laws to limited polling hours and registration opportunities to inconvenient or inaccessible polling locations.

“While automatic registration will allow everyone to participate, to ensure that our democracy works for and reflects the views of all Americans we must also have political boundaries that are drawn to let voters choose their representatives rather than rigged so the representatives can choose their voters,” Rapoport said. “That’s why the President’s call for redistricting reform and an end to partisan gerrymandering is so important. We must create nonpartisan redistricting commissions in every state so that citizens can draw fair districts.”

Rapoport urged the President to follow up on today’s speech by aggressively pursuing a full package of democracy reforms, including a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision, improved campaign finance disclosure requirements, an executive order mandating disclosure of political spending by government contractors, and new financing systems that empower small-dollar donors by matching their campaign contributions with public funds.