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Reform Groups Praise Democrats for Platform to Empower Everyday People in Our Elections

July 6, 2016 | Laura Friedenbach

Washington, D.C. — The draft platform released by the Democratic National Committee includes a strong solutions-focused agenda for reforming our money-in-politics system to give everyday people a bigger voice in politics, and Democrats and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton should lay out a plan for prioritizing and implementing it in 2017, according to groups behind the Fight Big Money Agenda released last summer that the platform is modeled after.

Specifically, the draft platform states:

“Democrats believe we must fight to preserve the essence of the longest standing democracy in the world: a government that represents the American people, not just a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests. We will fight for real campaign finance reform now. Big money is drowning out the voices of everyday Americans, and we must have the necessary tools to fight back and safeguard our electoral and political integrity.

“Democrats support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. We need to end secret, unaccountable money in politics by requiring, through executive order or legislation, significantly more disclosure and transparency—by outside groups, federal contractors, and public corporations to their shareholders. We need to amplify the voices of the American people through a small donor matching public financing system. We need to overhaul and strengthen the Federal Election Commission so that there is real enforcement of campaign finance laws. And we need to fight to eliminate super PACs and outside spending abuses.

“Our vision for American democracy is a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process, and can run for office without needing to depend on large contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.”

On the topic of judge appointments, the platform states judicial appointees should “curb billionaires’ influence over elections because they understand that Citizens United has fundamentally damaged our democracy.”

Money-in-politics reform groups praised the Democratic platform while calling on Democrats and presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton to lay out a plan for prioritizing and implementing it in 2017:

“Democrats have offered a bold, comprehensive plan to fight against a big-money takeover and empower everyday people in our democracy. Clinton was right when she said recently we need to ‘reform our whole campaign finance system’ and we look forward to her campaigning on this issue and prioritizing it if elected.”
–David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice

“All Americans deserve the opportunity to have influence and a say in the political process.  But too many Americans currently feel left out. For politics to change, the system needs to change. The draft platform recognizes this by embracing innovative, comprehensive reforms, including small donor public financing and automatic universal voter registration.”
–Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program

“Common Cause remains more interested in action than words. Our democracy is more fragile because of a string of actions by a Supreme Court that has been met with insufficient response from Congress and the White House. We are pleased Sec. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders worked together to produce a platform for their party reflecting voters’ desire for action to reduce the influence of money in politics, secure the right to vote, and modernize our political system. We will work with anyone who moves words into action to create a 21st Century democracy that works for everyone in keeping with the principles outlined in the Fight Big Money, Empowering People Agenda. Voters are clearly signaling they will act if politicians won’t.”
–Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause

“The Democratic draft platform offers a very strong and comprehensive plan for repairing our broken and discredited campaign finance system. The plan recognizes that the American people believe that political money is rigging Washington D.C. against their interests. The test that lies ahead is whether Hillary Clinton, if elected, will pursue this reform plan as the national priority it is and whether Clinton will recognize that we cannot effectively solve our other national problems until we repair our democracy.”
–Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 

“In recognition of the rise of democracy politics as an electoral force, the Democratic Party has released a ‘Money in Politics’ platform articulating a vision of government that lives up to the best of our founding ideals. It is important that this public commitment to strengthen American democracy is accompanied by a timeline for reform and concrete legislative action. Young voters in particular will be watching closely.”
–Joan Mandle, executive director of Democracy Matters

“These are bold reforms that will help make our democracy work for everyone. These reform measures aren’t just critically important from a policy perspective, they are also changes that Americans overwhelmingly support. Across the board, voters are ready for a democracy where every voice can be heard — and for a political leader who will champion these reforms from day one.”
–Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way

“Sec. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the Democratic Party platform committee have drafted the powerful democracy platform that America needs. Public Citizen hopes to see a presidential election campaign contested on each candidate’s commitment to rescuing our democracy. Most important will be the commitment of candidates to push a full-fledged democracy agenda aggressively, starting from Day One of the next administration.”
–Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

The Democratic Party’s platform, released in draft on Friday, reflects policies put forward in the Fight Big Money Agenda, a comprehensive platform guide released last summer by 13 national money-in-politics advocacy groups including the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Democracy Matters, Demos, Every Voice, Free Speech for People, Issue One, Mayday, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and U.S. PIRG.

Following presidential primaries for both parties in which voter anger about money in politics played a central role, reform groups sent letters to both the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee urging them to include policies from the Fight Big Money Agenda in their party platforms.

In the letters to both parties and to presidential candidates, reform groups have called on the parties and their nominees to commit to introducing a comprehensive money-in-politics legislative package in Congress within the first 100 days of their presidency and to make its passage a national priority throughout their term.

Democracy reform advocates also testified before the DNC platform committee urging they adopt policies from the Fight Big Money Agenda. Watch testimony from Every Voice’s David DonnellyBrennan Center’s Michael WaldmanDemocracy Initiative’s Wendy FieldsPublic Citizen’s Rob WeissmanRev. William BarberDemocracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer, and political consultant and former state House Democratic leader John Loredo.

The agenda is reflected in the reform plans released by both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. While Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the problems with the system, he has yet to offer any proposals to address them.


Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.