Plan to Fix Our Broken Politics

To make progress on the issues we care about, we have to fix our broken politics.

Ninety percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases. Eighty percent want a tough but fair pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Seventy percent are worried about climate change. The list goes on. But because of our broken politics, Washington is doing nothing.

To fix our politics, we must overcome the forces trying to separate the American people from our government: special interests working to replace the public’s agenda with their own; politicians insulating themselves from accountability through gerrymandering and voter suppression; and foreign actors infiltrating our democracy.

The Bennet Administration will make fighting this corruption and strengthening our democracy a top priority. Our plan aims to drive the money and special interests out of our politics, while bringing the American people back in. It builds on the historic H.R. 1 package that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

We have an incredible opportunity to usher in a new era of progress. Like generations of Americans before us, we must fix our politics and build confidence in our noble exercise in self-government.

Highlights of the Plan:

Clean Up the Corruption

  • A constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and new reforms to drive money out of politics.
  • Lifetime lobbying ban for members of Congress and steps to dismantle Washington’s pay-to-play politics.
  • Tough new ethics, transparency, and anti-corruption rules for the White House and Congress.

Strengthen Our Democracy

  • Bold reforms to promote voting, including automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and expanded early voting.
  • Support for ranked choice voting — an innovative approach to reduce partisanship and increase choices for voters.
  • Protections against partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, and foreign interference in our elections.

 

Clean up the Corruption


“I have never met an American who thought that the problem with our politics is that there’s not enough money in it.”

Clean Up Our Elections

  • Overturn Citizens United via Constitutional amendment.
  • Create a voluntary small-donor matching system for federal elections to offset wealthy donors, paid for with a small surcharge on penalties for corporate and white-collar crime.
  • Require Super PACs and outside groups to promptly disclose large donations.
  • Require leaders of Super PACs and dark money groups to appear personally in ads to take responsibility for their content.
  • Crack down on coordination between Super PACs and individual candidates and campaigns.
  • Reform the Federal Election Commission, so it can vigorously enforce campaign finance violations. By moving to five commissioners, we can break the current 3-3 deadlock.
  • Require shareholders to approve of any political expenditures by a public corporation and disclose political spending and lobbyist expenditures to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Require social media companies to disclose the source and scope of all political ads on their platforms.

Close the Revolving Door

  • Ban members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.
  • Ban senior Congressional staff and cabinet officials from working as lobbyists in the particular areas they worked on for six years.
  • Ban Congressional members and senior staff from ever representing foreign governments or foreign political parties.
  • Close loopholes that allow individuals to operate as lobbyists without registering as one.

Dismantle Pay-to-Play Politics

  • Stop members of Congress from taking money from lobbyists while they are in legislative session.
  • Ban the ability of lobbyists to “bundle” donations and bypass individual contribution limits.
  • Cap large contributions to political parties. A recent change in the law allowed a single donor to give more than $2.5 million to state and national political parties, over 30 times the previous limit. We should reverse it.

Restore Trust and Transparency

  • Require the president, vice president, and candidates for both offices to release ten years of tax returns and disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest.
  • Clarify the emoluments clause. The Constitution’s emoluments clause is mostly silent about how to identify and enforce a violation. We can fix this with legislation.
  • Extend safeguards against conflicts of interest to the president and vice president. Today, conflicts-of-interest laws prohibit most federal employees from doing public business that could lead to direct private gain – except the president and vice president. We should close this loophole, with exemptions to account for the president and vice president’s unique constitutional responsibilities.

 

Strengthen Our Democracy


“We shouldn’t settle for being the oldest democracy in the world. We should be the strongest democracy in the world.”

Promote the Vote

  • Automatically register every eligible citizen to vote. Automatic voter registration registers eligible citizens to vote when they engage with government agencies, with the option to ‘opt-out.’
  • Establish online voter registration.
  • Require same-day voter registration.
  • Require portable voter registration. If an eligible, registered voter moves within the state, their registration automatically moves with them.
  • Pre-register 16- and 17-year olds to vote.
  • Require states to let students vote where they attend school.
  • Require no-excuse absentee voting and at least two weeks of early voting.
  • Make Election Day a national holiday.
  • Require counting of provisional ballots for federal races, even if voters lack photo ID or show up at the wrong polling location. At the same time, there should be reasonable steps to verify a voter’s identity.
  • Restore voting rights to the millions of Americans who have served their time immediately upon release from prison.
  • Make the District of Columbia a state.

Increase Choice

  • Support state and local governments that transition to ranked choice voting, or “instant runoffs,” and other reforms to reduce partisanship. Instead of voting for a single candidate, under this system, voters rank candidates by preference. If no one receives over 50 percent, supporters of the last-place candidate are reassigned to their second choice. This process repeats until one candidate clears 50 percent. Ranked choice voting gives people more choices. It increases competition for millions of Americans who feel forced to choose between “the lesser of two evils.” The requirement for the winner to secure over 50 percent can also help prevent extreme candidates who lack majority support.

Protect Elections

  • Prohibit partisan gerrymandering for Congressional districts.
  • Restore core provisions of the Voting Rights Act gutted by the Supreme Court in Shelby v. Holder.
  • Prohibit politically motivated purging of inactive voters from the rolls, while establishing robust procedures to verify their status and restore their registration in the case of wrongful removal.
  • Significantly increase penalties for intentional voter suppression.
  • Prohibit voter caging, the practice of using non-forwardable mail as justification to remove registered voters from the rolls.
  • Bolster resources and enforcement at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
  • Ban modern-day poll taxes that make re-enfranchisement contingent on the payment of hefty fees, as we have seen recently in Florida.
  • Ensure that foreign-owned or controlled corporations cannot spend money in our elections.
  • Eliminate the loophole that lets foreign agents avoid registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
  • Require social media companies to prevent foreign actors from purchasing political ads on their platforms to influence our elections.
  • Require the use of paper ballots for federal elections and risk-limiting audits for all federal races.
  • Provide resources to state and local governments to adopt these reforms and transition to more inclusive and secure elections.
  • Protect the integrity of the U.S. Census by removing any question about citizenship status.

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