Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda
Like every generation before us, Americans are coming together to preserve a democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people. American democracy is premised on the consent of the governed, and on the idea that we all deserve a say in the government decisions that affect our families. We stand united supporting commonsense protections that recognize the people as the ultimate check on the corrosive influence of money in politics, which is eroding the very foundation of self-government.
The next President of the United States should stand with Americans across the country and commit to these five principles of democracy:
- Everyone participates;
- Everyone’s voice is heard;
- Everyone knows who is trying to influence our views and our representatives;
- Everyone plays by fair, common-sense rules;
- Everyone is held accountable, with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.
To bring these democratic values to life, the next President of the United States must advocate for a specific and comprehensive plan, including:
Encouraging and amplifying the voices of everyday Americans by legislating a system of public funding for qualified federal candidates, meaningful contribution limits, and measures to reduce barriers to the ballot box and increase turnout;
Robust, real-time disclosure of political contributions and expenditures through legislation, rulemaking at the FEC, FCC, IRS, and SEC; and—if President Obama fails to act—an executive order;
Overturning Citizens United and earlier cases such as Buckley v. Valeo through the Democracy for All constitutional amendment, and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices committed to restoring the people’s ability to protect our democracy;
Ending the mockery of existing campaign finance rules through legislation to shut down individual-candidate super PACs and effectively prevent coordination between candidates and outside groups; creating a new enforcement agency with real power; appointing FEC commissioners committed to enforcing existing law; and appointing an Attorney General who will crack down on violations of campaign finance laws and election laws that protect every voter’s access to the ballot box.
The next President of the United States should commit to make this democracy reform agenda a national priority from Day One in office. In the past, presidents have made campaign commitments to prioritize campaign finance reform and then, once elected, have failed to take action. In addition to proposing a specific and comprehensive reform plan, the next president should publicly take these reforms to the country and Congress as a national priority, convening community leaders and activists from around the country to build support at every level, and create a White House task force to promote the reform agenda.
Brennan Center for Justice
People for the American Way
Public Citizen Inc.