Common Cause Welcomes Candidates to Democracy Reform Debate the American People Have Been Having for Six Years Since Citizens United

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  • Scott Swenson
Statement by Common Cause President Miles Rapoport

Tonight for only the second time in 14 presidential debates in both parties, the topic that is on every voter’s mind, democracy itself, was raised.

The reason candidates are increasingly talking about the issues of money in politics and democracy reform; the reason President Obama is starting a series of “Better Politics” speeches; is that the people have been registering their disgust with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and are fighting back against big money. 

The untold story is the people have been fighting back in cities and states, and in the process, building a movement that has made certain these issues are front and center in the 2016 election. A new collaborative report, “Our Voices, Our Democracy,” details the growth of this movement since Citizens United and how, to the surprise of the media, the people are winning. 

Tonight the Democratic candidates debated the problem of money in politics again, but voters are well aware of the problem. What voters hunger for is a debate in which candidates discuss how they will solve the problem and how soon after taking office they will implement change.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump has talked about how, as a donor, he got his calls answered; he makes the mistaken claim that because he is self-funding his campaign, he isn’t beholden to special interests. But voters know that money is a barrier to participation, and they don’t believe a person should have to be a billionaire to run for office. 

Other Republicans, like John Kasich, talk on the campaign trail about the need for democracy reform, including redistricting reform to end gerrymandering. Jeb Bush, has stated his dissatisfaction with Citizens United, even though he also proposed supporting unlimited contributions, a proposal voters reject. 

Candidates have to talk about solutions now. Common Cause and our allies have proposed a clear platform with a comprehensive set of solutions, the Fighting Big Money agenda, that starts to address the challenges our democracy faces and frames the debate based on values Americans across the political spectrum share. We urge candidates in both parties to compare their plans to solve the problems and strengthen our democracy.