President Saves His Best for Last

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  • Scott Swenson, Dale Eisman
Statement by Common Cause President Miles Rapoport

President Obama has saved his best for last.

His commitment tonight to devote his final year in office to the pursuit of what he calls “a better politics” reflects his view – and Common Cause’s – that none of the critical  problems facing the nation can be solved unless we first repair our democracy.

The agenda the President laid out tonight – reducing the influence of big money in politics, squeezing partisan politics out of the drawing of our congressional districts, and ensuring that every citizen has ready access to the ballot box – has long been Common Cause’s agenda.

It’s the public’s agenda too – and we know how get it done. In states like Connecticut, Arizona, and Maine, we’ve helped implement small-dollar public financing systems that push candidates to focus on issues that matter to all Americans, not just major campaign donors. In California, Florida, and other states we’ve secured redistricting reforms to create districts that reflect our communities rather than serving the interests of any political party. In Colorado, Oregon, and most recently California, we’ve led successful fights to make voter registration easier, expand early voting opportunities and lower other barriers to voting.

Mr. Obama’s pride in his administration was obvious tonight but as he acknowledged, he and the nation have unfinished business.

We’re delighted that in his final months, as the nation considers who should succeed him, “better politics” will be the President’s focus. He’d do well to start by issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. Voters have a vital interest in information about who is spending money to influence our votes, particularly when the spenders are companies doing business with the government.

The President reminded us tonight that each of us have a responsibility to uphold the obligations of citizenship —  to vote, to speak out, to stand up for the weak and vulnerable, to stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism of our people and our history.

Common Cause and our 400,000 members and citizen activists are determined to do all we can to meet that obligation.