An Open Letter to Democratic Presidential Candidates: Discuss Democracy Reform at the Debates
Dear Democratic Presidential Candidates:
We write to encourage you to discuss in the upcoming Democratic debates what you will do to end political corruption, reduce politicians’ unhealthy dependence on special interests and wealthy donors, and strengthen our democracy.
Although the moderators asked no questions on this cluster of topics in the first set of debates, voters care immensely about reducing systemic corruption and making Washington, DC work for all voters. In a 2018 pre-election tracking poll, reducing corruption was the number two issue for voters. Only the economy rated higher. Another reliable poll, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that “corruption in Washington, DC” was in fact the number one issue in 2018. You’ve probably seen first-hand on the stump how frustrated voters are with the state of our discourse and our democracy.
In recognition of this intense voter interest and importance to our system, the Democratic House majority made democracy reform the first priority of the 119th Congress and labeled its reform package “HR 1 — The For The People Act.” This bill passed the House but has not been brought up in the Senate.
Though HR 1 languishes in the Senate, the issue should not be forgotten. Just the opposite. By highlighting democracy reform, you will aid not only Democratic primary voters but all citizens. Voters want to learn more about how you will get HR 1 over the finish line and help restore our democracy. That makes it critical for you to discuss your concrete plans and how their passage would improve the lives of all Americans.
We recommend that you address any of the topics below:
- You should explain any ideas you have to change our campaign finance system and make politicians less reliant on large donations, SuperPACs, and special interests.
- You should discuss the ways that you plan to change our democracy to make sure politicians are accountable to the needs and preferences of average Americans and not special interests and major donors.
- Many people think that we can’t enact big changes without first fixing the way Washington does business. You should explain how you will improve the system to make it more likely that your important substantive reforms can be passed and accepted as fair solutions, not ideas bought and paid for by special interests.
- If you support the public funding of political campaigns (which you should), you should explain your plan and discuss how it would fundamentally revolutionize our entire system.
- You should explain why our democracy needs reform and what your first priorities will be for improving our democratic system.
We would be happy to discuss this topic further at your convenience.