Oct. 30, 2018

Historic Nonpartisan Coalition Announces Political Reform Campaign to Begin Immediately After 2018 Elections

The Declaration for American Democracy, a Coalition of 100 National Groups, Calls for Fundamental Political Improvements to Rebuild America’s Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Powerful corporate and wealthy interests are attacking core principles of fairness, equity and the rule of law that are supposed to be at the heart of American democracy. Our political system must be reformed immediately to make good on the promise of these values, a nonpartisan coalition of 100 organizations said today when launching a new campaign to pass voting rights, ethics and money-in-politics reforms. The campaign will begin Nov. 7, the day after the elections.

Throughout the 2018 election cycle, the public has demanded a comprehensive fix for a system and a democracy that is less responsive to their needs and daily lives than any time in recent memory and that does not fairly represent their policy priorities. Declaration for American Democracy is a coalition of organizations representing a diverse collection of issue areas and constituencies that has come together to press for top to bottom, systemic political reforms to return power in our government to the public. The coalition’s membership advocates for issues ranging from civil and workers’ rights, to reproductive freedom and the environment, and represents a broad spectrum of constituencies that includes immigrants, people of faith and many more.  

“Perhaps now more than ever, Americans are united in their desire to see real reforms to strengthen and protect democracy,” said People For the American Way Executive Vice President Marge Baker. “The Declaration For American Democracy is a driving force to create a political system that serves the interests of all people, not just the privileged and the powerful.”

Each organization has its own priorities, whether environmental, choice, working families, election security or others, but the groups have come together because post-election 2018 is the time for bold, comprehensive and new solutions to create a government that’s reflective, responsive and accountable to people, not wealthy, special interests.

“Democracy is resilient, but it takes our constant vigilance to uphold its promise,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “This coalition reflects the growing movement that includes Common Cause’s 1.2 million supporters in every congressional district nationwide. Together, we must work to rebalance our system to put people first and to reduce the undue influence of wealthy special interests; to ensure that everyone eligible can vote and have their vote counted as cast; and where people have confidence in a responsive government that upholds high ethical standards. Americans deserve a government that advances our common interests and reflects the will of the people and the rich diversity of America. States and municipalities have passed many reforms that can lead the way federally. We must meet the moment that our turbulent time demands.”

Specifically, the groups believe a strong democracy:

● Is one in which voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility;
● Serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors;
● Is one in which our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets;
● Is one in which people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made; and
● Works to respond to the needs of all people and their communities, building trust in governance and equity.

The coalition also will fight for significant changes in the country’s voting, ethics and campaign finance laws.

“Our country is stronger when everyone has a voice, not just wealthy, special interests,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. “Under President Trump, corruption in Washington has reached unprecedented levels. Americans deserve fair representation and a government that is responsive and accountable to them. This historic democracy coalition demands that Congress pass bold, comprehensive, anti-corruption and pro-voter reforms, including banning lobbyist fundraising for members of Congress, implementing a system of small donor-fueled elections and increasing voter participation with commonsense automatic voter registration.”

“End Citizens United is proud to be part of this amazing coalition that is dedicated to protecting democracy,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “This group of incredible advocates is committed to restoring the public trust so that people have faith that their representatives are focused on their priorities and not the special interests. One important first step is passing a bold and sweeping comprehensive reform bill. We look forward to working with this team to make that bill a top priority and on other critical issues in the weeks and months to come.”

“It’s time that our democracy was fueled by elected officials willing to fight for our values, our futures and our votes,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “We deserve to live in a country where women, not out-of-touch politicians fueled by ideological and politically motivated interest groups, have the freedom to make the most personal decisions about if, when and how to grow their families. The anti-choice movement has invested hundreds of millions over decades to stack the courts, Congress and the White House against women and families – and we’ve had enough. Anyone who continues to turn their back on women, our fundamental rights, and the democratic values we hold dear is now put on notice. We will not accept anything less than a strong democracy that treats women as equal members of society, not second-class citizens.”

“Our democracy is sick, and it’s not an accident. This is the result of a decades-long campaign to disenfranchise communities of color and reduce government's responsiveness to the will of the people,” said Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible. “Opponents of democracy in America engage in acts of sabotage in order to entrench their own power and reward their donors. But that is about to change. America is ready for a bold vision for 21st century democracy. The country needs it, the public supports it and the Indivisible movement will be on the vanguard demanding it.”

“The Gospel of Matthew tells us that we must not serve God and Money,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network. “It is imperative that for a fully functioning and representative government of all Americans that we institute reforms in the areas of campaign finance, voting rights and good governance. As Pope Francis reminds us to “meddle in politics” we’re reminded that that means that all Americans must have an equal say in the public square.”

“Our democracy is strongest when more Americans participate in our elections and have their voices heard,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “We need politicians to listen to the concerns of their constituents and address the needs of their communities over their own political agendas. It is critical that we pass laws that empower all voters and work to build a stronger, more inclusive democracy.”

“This is a difficult time for our country, but together we can restore sanity to our politics,” said Brett Edkins, political director for Stand Up America. “We can end the corrupting influence of money in our elections, protect every American’s right to vote and lift up the voices of ordinary citizens now drowned out by special interests.”

“Unless we start making changes to protect and expand voter rights and voting access, ensure fair districts and representation, and finally get money out of politics, we risk losing our democracy,” said Kaili Lambe, organizing director for CREDO Action. “This is about more than restoring public faith in government – it is critical to protect the rights of people of color, immigrants, low-income families and everyone whose safety, freedom and prosperity is jeopardized when democracy is broken.”

“American Promise is proud to join the Declaration for American Democracy coalition in its mission to revitalize our democratic processes and further our republic’s principles of political equality and responsible self-government,” said Jeff Clements, president of American Promise. “Our mission – to pass the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting big money’s undue influence in our political system – is a foundational component of the Declaration for American Democracy goal of top-to-bottom, systemic political reforms to return power in our government back to the people.”

“Democracy 21 is pleased to join in the announcement today of an unprecedented coalition of organizations committed to pursuing an unprecedented package of democracy reforms beginning early next year,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. “We recognize the fight to repair our democracy will be a difficult battle and will take time. We also recognize that we have today a broken political system, a corrupt campaign finance system and a democracy under attack from within. The deep public concerns about a rigged system in Washington that represents the wealthy and powerful at the expense of most Americans have set the stage for achieving fundamental democracy reforms. These opportunities do not come along often. We are ready to seize the moment and engage in the battle for as long as it takes to win.”

“Our civil and human rights rely on a democracy where the people are heard and our government is responsive to our needs,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Now, we are at a time when our democracy is under attack. Voter suppression and intimidation, efforts to undermine a fair and accurate census, and corruption scandals are just a few reasons why we must advance an affirmative vision to build an America as good as its ideals. The stakes for our civil and human rights are too high for inaction. These fundamental reforms are necessary to rebuild our democracy and ensure a government that works for all the people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

“The Sierra Club is proud to join with our allies to demand a democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and most powerful,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “Corporate polluters have been flooding our political system with big money for too long, spending unprecedented millions to try to keep people from voting while propping up politicians who push their dirty agenda rather than the things the American people care about most, like clean air and water, safe communities and family-sustaining jobs. But together with our partners from across the country, we will work to ensure that everyone in this country has an equal opportunity for their voices to be heard and to ensure a brighter, healthier future for all.”  

“This administration’s catastrophic ethical failings have exposed the gaps in our system of ethics laws,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW. “When you add these to existing weaknesses in our representative democracy, such as the outsized influence of money in politics, the risk of a corruption crisis becomes unacceptably high. Congress must address these problems and fix this inherently broken system.”

“Public Citizen proudly stands together with the 100 organizations in the Declaration for American Democracy campaign to call out the current corruption and dysfunction of our democracy, and publicly commit to fight as a group to fix our system,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Only by winning foundational reforms to our politics, can we hope to move forward the substantive policies that are so important to the American people – from protecting our environment, to fighting for consumers and working families, to improving our health care and lowering prescription drug prices and more. We deserve a republic that truly serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors.”

See a full list of participating organizations and read the coalition’s mission statement to learn more about the ‘Declaration for American Democracy.’

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