The past several years have thrown into sharp relief just how broken the U.S. political system has become. Between a corrupt and kleptocratic administration with little regard for the rule of law, a legislative agenda dominated by lobbyist-driven efforts to further enrich the most wealthy and powerful donors and corporations in the country, a daily assault on our most essential institutions, and attacks on principles as fundamental to democracy as the right to vote, it is no wonder that public confidence in government is so low. Fortunately, there is hope. In November 2018, the American people went to the polls and resoundingly cast their ballot in support of candidates and officeholders committed to cleaning up corruption and holding government accountable. Now, an ambitious package of reforms introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives has the potential to do just that.
H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, is a series of sweeping ethics, campaign finance and voting rights reforms that get to the heart of corruption and, when implemented, will go a long way toward restoring public confidence in our federal government. The legislation addresses three key categories of reform by providing:
- Comprehensive campaign finance reforms that would end “dark money” secret campaign donations and reduce the alarming influence of special interest and corporate money in our elections.
- Desperately-needed governmental ethics reforms to slow the revolving door between public service and powerful business interests, and strengthening oversight and enforcement of ethics laws and rules.
- Voting and electoral reforms that would end gerrymandering and reaffirm the principle of one person, one vote.
Each and every one of these proposals are significant remedies to what ails this nation and are endorsed by Public Citizen. While there is room for enhancing a few of the reforms offered by H.R. 1, overall the legislation is the kind of bold action to clean up corruption and restore democracy that the public has been yearning for.
Currently, the bill is being marked up in various House committees, which means it needs as much public awareness and support as possible to avoid being watered down by amendments that would weaken its provisions.
Luckily, there are ways you can help to advance this legislation to stamp out the influence of money in our elections, limit corporate lobbying, and expand voting rights. The Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of more than 125 local, state and national organizations representing a diverse array of constituencies and issues working together to create a democracy where everyone’s voice is heard, counted and protected, is hosting H.R. 1-focused events happening around the nation, such as rallies and town halls with members of Congress. Find and RSVP to a rally or town hall near you by clicking here.
For too long, American federal government has been bent toward the will of the rich and powerful as democracy has eroded and the average American has had less and less say in the direction and governance of the country. It’s time to change that. Support H.R. 1 now, because everyday Americans deserve to have a vibrant democracy in which they can participate and be heard by ethical elected officials who have their constituents’, not their donors’, interests at heart.
Photo credit: Flickr user Stephen Melkisethian
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