2020 Issue Focus: Democracy

Who We Listen to on Democracy

There’s a whole ecosystem of organizations focused on protecting and expanding democracy, and Indivisible is relatively new to the scene. That’s why we listen to some expert partner organizations. Public Citizen has been focused on democracy for decades, and we’ve joined them and others in the Declaration for American Democracy. End Citizens United is a key partner in this work, fighting against unlimited, untraceable corporate money in elections. Demos is a think tank for the movement that provides essential research on progressive policy with an intersectional framework. Center for American Progress is a leader in the effort to push officials and candidates to fight corruption and consider essential structural reforms to our democracy. Finally, Free Press and Demand Justice are essential voices on media protections and court reform, respectively.

Why Democracy Matters for 2020

The key to Republican electoral success is simple: suppress the vote to win power, then rig the rules in their own favor to maintain that power. Recent elections have shown this strategy in stark terms: thousands of voters – disproportionately low-income and people of color – prevented from casting ballots because of voter ID laws and roll purges; millions in corporate dark money pouring into races; and Trump winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million votes. While our democracy has never worked perfectly — and was originally built to exclude people of color, poor people, women, and immigrants — we have made progress. But instead of building on that progress, Republicans want to keep the rules rigged in their favor. The situation is unsustainable and reflective of an unhealthy democracy that must be treated with far-reaching legislation. 

There has been progress on this in the House — H.R. 1 would radically improve our current system, but won’t solve the problems we’re facing. Our democracy isn’t working for ALL the people because of huge structural barriers that are inherent in the system. That means that 2020 candidates need to recognize that passing strong democracy reforms through the Senate will require structural reforms  — specifically, eliminating the filibuster.

What Candidates Should be Talking About on Democracy

  • Eliminating the filibuster to create a functioning Senate so that we can pass the democratic reforms we need

  • Voting rights for all, including incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, and young people

  • Restoring the Voting Rights Act and overturning voter ID laws and other suppressive laws that target communities of color

  • Expanding and modernizing the Supreme Court, to set the course for a less hyperpartisan process for selecting and appointing judges

  • Statehood for D.C. and for Puerto Rico, if they choose it

  • Breaking up media conglomerates and/or investments in public media

  • Supporting the For The People Act (H.R. 1), including election security and anti-corruption reforms

  • Requiring Members of Congress, Vice Presidents and Presidents to divest their assets and disclose conflicts of interest, and Presidents and VPs to disclose their tax returns

  • Instituting strict revolving door requirements to keep corporate lobbyists from moving back and forth into government

  • Plans to fight racial and partisan gerrymandering at all levels of government

  • Instituting public funding for elections to reduce the power of corporate money in government

Who’s Getting it Right on Democracy

  • Governor Inslee and Senator Warren have both come out against the filibuster.  

  • Senator Gillibrand’s Clean Elections Plan is an innovative proposal for “Democracy Dollars” as a form of publicly funded elections.

  • Several candidates, including Pete Buttigeig and Beto O’Rourke, have released far-reaching plans to strengthen our democratic systems. 

  • As governor, Steve Bullock has passed a law to fight dark money in Montana and used the power of his office to defend campaign finance laws in the courts and oppose efforts to undermine them.