Jan. 9, 2019

Nonpartisan Coalition Begins Push for Political Reform and Sweeping Pro-Democracy Changes

The Declaration for American Democracy, a Coalition of 125 National Groups, Calls for Passage of the For the People Act to Rebuild America’s Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The beginning of the 116th Congress marks a historic opportunity to restore the core principles of fairness, equity, access to the ballot and the rule of law, a nonpartisan coalition of 125 organizations said today at the U.S. Capitol. The groups were joined by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who last week introduced the For the People Act (H.R. 1) – which contains voting rights, anti-corruption and money-in-politics reforms – and U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.).

Representatives from a dozen organizations spoke. Each organization in the coalition has its own priorities – whether environmental, choice, working families, election security or gun safety – but the speakers said they have come together because it is the time for bold, comprehensive solutions as exemplified by the For the People Act.

The groups plan to build power over time inside and outside D.C., mobilizing their grassroots activists to contact lawmakers in their district offices, publicizing the need for reform on social media, holding rallies and more.

Throughout the 2018 election cycle, the public demanded comprehensive fixes to a system that has become less responsive to their needs and daily lives than any time in recent memory. If passed, the For the People Act would dramatically reduce the influence of corporate and wealthy interests and restore principles of American democracy.

“No one, least of all the corrupt and mendacious Donald Trump, can fix our rigged political and economic system, said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We need structural reform, which the For the People Act provides. This sweeping pro-democracy, anti-corruption legislation will help launch the democratic transformation our country so desperately needs and which the American people have demanded. When our government becomes a government For the People, instead of Big Business and connected insiders, we finally will see action on the policies that Americans overwhelmingly favor, from guaranteeing a living wage to all Americans to providing Medicare-for-All, from slashing drug prices to averting catastrophic climate change.”

The groups leading the campaign to pass the For the People Act belong to the Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of more than 125 nonpartisan local, state and national organizations committed to delivering the bold reforms to our democracy that the public has demanded. They are pressing for top to bottom, systemic political reforms to return power in our government to the public.

“For far too long the superrich and corporate bad actors have had a stranglehold on our democracy,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “Our coalition has come together with a unified mission to ensure that our system again works for regular Americans. To accomplish this, we need bold, transformational reforms to unrig the system, ensuring the right to vote, participate and be heard, and we stand together today calling for Congress to act on this mandate.”

When enacted, among many other provisions, the For the People Act will:

  • Enact small-donor funding of our elections, backed by public matching grants to candidates who agree to rely exclusively on small donations;
  • End the need for candidates to have to beg for money from — and sell their souls to — the superrich;
  • End dark money by forcing disclosure of all major election-related funders;
  • Enact automatic voter registration, eliminating the barriers to registering people of color, young voters and others; End gerrymandering by requiring congressional districts to be drawn by nonpartisan commissions; and
  • Slam shut the revolving door by which corporate executives, lobbyists and lawyers take positions in government overseeing the industries for which they previously worked — and then return to them upon finishing their time in government.

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