Michael Waldman, Executive Director of the Brennan Center for Justice (and Kapor Foundation grant recipient), wrote a feature article in the January issue of Capitol Investments. He writes about the importance of decreasing corporate power and maximizing voter participation in this year’s election.
Waldman warns that in this year’s race, we can expect to see the kind of corruption that was seen in Watergate. Yikes. Secret funds, unlimited special-interest gifts, and big independent expenditures will dominate this race. So what can be done to change this?
Organizing and lobbying is crucial, yes. But in order to increase voter participation and create a more democratic movement, serious reform around campaign finance should also be fought for. Two reforms in particular should be pushed:
1) adoption of a public funding model that would build the power of small donors
2) assurance that all eligible citizens can vote.
The Brennan Center has researched and found that the votes of at least five million eligible citizens–many low-income, of color, young, and elderly–are being threatened right now by state legislation across the country which restricts voting rights. The push-back of voters rights groups has been successful at blocking some of these measures but a big push for universal registration as proposed by the Voter Registration Modernization plan is urgent. This plan would decrease barriers to voting by ensuring that all citizens would automatically be registered to vote. Additional perks are that it is less costly and discourages fraud.
So, quick re-cap: public funding from small-donors plus Voter Registration Modernization equals more say from the people, more eligible citizens able to vote, and more power in the hands of the people. Sounds like participatory democracy to me.
To read Michael Waldman’s full article, click here.
photo: Scott Olsen