In what dozens of progressive groups hailed as a good first step toward eradicating the rampant corruption that has infected both major political parties and flourished under President Donald Trump, congressional Democrats on Monday rolled out a series of pro-democracy proposals aimed at enhancing voting rights, curbing the influence of corporate lobbyists, and “ending the scourge of unaccountable ‘dark money’ unleashed by Citizens United.”
“President Donald Trump is battering at the foundation of our democracy, but that foundation was eroded badly long before Trump’s election,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen said in a statement endorsing the proposals on Monday. “We need a full-fledged democracy rescue program, which is exactly what the ‘Better Deal for Our Democracy’ provides. We need this package — all of it — to unrig a political system that is working for corporations and the super-rich.”
Officially unveiled during a press conference on Monday by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and other Democratic lawmakers, the “Better Deal for Our Democracy” — just one plank of the Democratic Party’s broader 2018 platform — aims to:
- “Empower the American voter” by restoring protections gutted by the GOP in recent years and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering;
- “Strengthen our nation’s ethics laws” by barring deep-pocketed lobbyists from “attempting to trade campaign cash for access and influence”; and
- “Fix our broken campaign finance system” by overturning Citizens United and increasing the power of small donors.
We CAN end corruption. Joining @NancyPelosi and colleagues to say loudly and clearly: Our communities deserve a better deal than to be overrun by lobbyists and big corporate money and groups like the @NRA in Washington D.C.
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) May 21, 2018
Applauding the Democratic Party’s proposed solutions as a “good start” toward confronting the widespread “abuse of a lax campaign finance system” and actually draining the “swamp” of corruption that Trump has only made worse, Patriotic Millionaires chair Morris Pearl argued that the fact “these proposals are even necessary shows just how low the standards for moral authority in Washington have sunk in the last two years.”
“The American people did not vote to allow government officials to get rich by selling access to government to the highest bidders,” Pearl said.
The Democrats’ slate of proposals come as polling data continues to show that Americans strongly support robust campaign finance reform efforts to curb the influence of the “few big interests” that dictate government policy.
They also come as the Trump administration’s open corruption — with budget chief Mick Mulvaney serving as just one of many egregious examples — has called attention to “pay-for-play” norms that have dominated Washington for decades.
“The system is broken in numerous ways, and only through bold leadership and strong practical systemic reforms can we begin to repair our democracy, and make it again something that Americans believe in and depend on,” Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs, said in a statement. “If this package passes, cronyism, corruption, and far too much special interest money in our system will no longer be the norm.”