We have a flawed electoral and campaign finance system that unfairly stacks the odds in favor of the wealthy few. As a result, many of our lawmakers make decisions in favor of narrow interests. Our democracy cannot thrive under such conditions.
Our democracy can live up to its potential only if the government ensures open access to public office and electoral processes and curbs the influence of money and corporate power.
We must take back politics, build integrity, and restore faith in democracy.
The Role of Big Money in Politics
Our democracy is built upon the idea that every citizen has equal voice and political representation, but corporate special interests and voter suppression continue to undermine the will of the American people. More money than ever before is being spent on elections, and marginalized communities of color are being denied access to the ballot despite the passage of the Voting Rights Act more than 50 years ago.
Researchers have found that the total amount of money in congressional elections increased more than 600 percent from 1980-2012. The 2018 midterm election cycle was the most expensive midterm on record, with spending surpassing $5.2 billion. That trend is expected to continue.
This complex system of influence and electioneering privileges the wealthy few while undermining the interests of the people.
What accounts for this massive uptick in political spending? The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC contributed to the expansion of Super PACs and the ability of corporations and wealthy individuals to shape election outcomes and set the agenda in Washington, D.C.
This complex system of influence and electioneering privileges the wealthy few while undermining the interests of the people. Because corporate interests can immensely outspend average people and labor groups in elections, the political agenda is disproportionately driven by concentrated corporate wealth, which serves to maintain status quo rather than the growing needs of the public.
Campaign finance reform, up to and including a constitutional amendment, is a necessary part of reclaiming and reinvigorating our democracy.
Voter suppression continues to be a serious problem across the United States, one that particularly impacts people of color and those living in poverty. Voter suppression tactics including the purging of voter rolls and strict voter ID laws, have become widespread. After the 2020 election, hundreds of bills meant to restrict voting have been introduced in statehouses nationwide.
These changes to voting laws are frequently advanced under the guise of addressing voter fraud, a virtually nonexistent problem. We must act against these threats to our democracy. Our faith calls us to enact a just world that ensures every voice is heard and vote is counted.
Congress Must Restore Our Democracy
Congress should pass bold reforms that will strengthen our democracy and put political power in the hands of the American people. These popular reforms include establishing automatic voter registration, making Election Day a federal holiday, restoring voting rights to those with prior felony convictions, eliminating gerrymandering, eliminating voter suppression tactics, and more.
Congress must also fully restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act and pass bold reforms to restore small donor financing of campaigns, disclosure requirements on campaign spending, and increased transparency.
As people of faith, we seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled. Active and informed civic participation in the political and electoral process is essential to the proper functioning of government.
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