Merkley unveils ‘Blueprint to Restore American Democracy’

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley unveiled a sweeping blueprint on Wednesday that he said will restore American democracy, outlining a series of proposals to take on voter suppression, gerrymandering, dark money and unequal representation in our democracy.

“The ‘We the People’ vision of our Constitution is being corrupted by dark, anti-democratic forces,” said Merkley in a press release.

“We need to restore our democracy. Right now, the privileged and powerful are running the show,” he said. “It’s time to make sure every American has a truly equal voice in the direction of our nation, and that we have a government that responds to the hopes and needs of working Americans.”

Merkley’s blueprint proposes passage of existing legislation — such as the DISCLOSE Act and the Voting Rights Advancement Act — and also proposes new bills to fill the gaps necessary to restore our democracy, which Merkley will introduce in the 116th Congress.

Specifically, the Merkley blueprint calls for:

  1. Ending “dark money”
  2. Pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United
  3. Ensure transparency in political donations
  4. Give shareholders a voice in corporate political spending
  5. Give public citizens legal standing to sue corporations if the FEC fails to enforce election laws
  6. Promote small donor engagement in elections
  7. Eliminating gerrymandering
  8. End partisan gerrymandering by requiring independent redistricting commissions to draw lines for all congressional districts, based on clear criteria to ensure representatives are responsive to their constituents
  9. Protecting and expanding the rights of voters
  10. Reinstate the Voting Rights Act
  11. Ensure equal access to polling locations and provisions to prevent long lines to vote
  12. Institute national vote-by-mail
  13. Enhance election security
  14. Require all states to allow early voting for at least two weeks before Election Day
  15. Stop voter list purges
  16. Restore voting rights for those who served time for felony offenses
  17. Nationwide automatic voter registration and same-day registration
  18. Ensuring equal representation
  19. Abolish the Electoral College and elect presidents by a national popular vote
  20. Provide a pathway for voting representation in Congress for American citizens in D.C., Puerto Rico, and the territories

From Merkley’s introduction to the Blueprint:

“Abraham Lincoln described the American experiment as ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ Yet, the federal government today is a far cry from that vision. Instead, our democracy has been corrupted by the privileged and powerful to ensure that it does not reflect the will of the people, but instead serves to further consolidate wealth and power among the minority who already have both.

“And as a result, our government has failed to take on the challenges that impact wide swaths of working America. People work longer hours, struggling to hold onto modest pay and benefits, while Wall Street gets extraordinarily wealthy.

“College and homeownership slide out of reach. Healthcare costs keep going up. Fossil fuel barons run our energy policy while ferocious storms, catastrophic forest fires and endless droughts wreck lives and livelihoods and compromise our children’s futures.

“We will be unable to address the big challenges we face as a nation — the ones that determine the America we leave our children creates more opportunity for a brighter future than the one we inherited — until we boldly and decisively reform our democracy.

“Dark money, extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression and the lack of equal representation have hijacked American democracy. This blueprint lays out specific legislative strategies that ‘We the People’ should take to counteract all of these tactics and create a democracy worthy of our nation’s great ideals.”

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