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Nationwide Vigils Against Corruption Show Public Demands Lawmakers Take Action to Protect and Strengthen Our Democracy

July 19, 2018 | Adam Smith

New ‘Declaration for American Democracy’ coalition demands Congress take action to create an honest, accountable democracy reflective of our country.

Washington, DC– Americans in nearly 200 cities and towns around the country held candlelight vigils on Wednesday night to confront government corruption and demand democracy, a signal to lawmakers that the public is ready for their leaders to take action to protect the rule of law and make sure every voice can be heard in the political process, said the Declaration for American Democracy coalition in a statement today.

The diverse coalition consists of ethics and government reform, voting rights, civil rights, human rights, corporate accountability, faith, and environmental organizations. Following Friday’s indictments of 12 Russians for illegally meddling in our election and the president’s failure to protect America’s interests in Helsinki this week, it’s more important than ever that our leaders stand up to defend our democracy and pledge to strengthen it.

Statement from the coalition on last night’s vigils:

“These vigils highlight how angry Americans are about the unprecedented levels of corruption in our government and how fearful they are of a Supreme Court that will not serve as an independent check on the president. They’re demanding our elected officials pass new laws to create an ethical, accountable government that lifts up the voices of everyday people in our political process. These laws must be made in the best interests of Americans, rather than at the behest of wealthy individuals and powerful corporations.

“The special counsel investigation must be able to finish its work, but Congress must also make it a priority to pass bold, comprehensive reforms to ensure everyone participates, every vote is counted, every voice is heard, and officials are held accountable for their actions.”

Organizations in the Declaration for American Democracy coalition believe our democracy must:

Ensure the freedom to vote and have that vote counted. A strong democracy is one where voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility. We need to actively encourage more people to cast their ballots and ensure those votes are counted, respected, and protected. This includes policies like automatic voter registration, fully restoring the Voting Rights Act, and ending partisan gerrymandering.

Be honest. A strong democracy serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors. We must strengthen ethics and financial disclosure rules for Congress and the executive branch and subject the president to them.

Have meaningful participation. A strong democracy is one where our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets. Elected officials must be reflective of, and responsive to, their constituents and communities. We must make sure our campaign finance laws are enforced, and we must do much more to limit the influence of money in our elections to ensure that all Americans have an equal voice in our democracy. make sure our campaign finance laws are enforced.

Provide transparency into our government and our elections. A strong democracy is one where people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made.  There needs to be more transparency of political spending, more access to government records, and the White House should be required to release visitor logs.

Be responsive. A strong democracy works to respond to the needs of people and their communities, building trust in governance and equity. We need to make sure government agencies are doing what’s best for Americans, not just special interests and slow the revolving door between public service and private gain.

Around the country, in planned events in 39 states, Americans stood up to corruption and demanded their elected officials take action to strengthen our democracy. Here are some examples:

  • Nevada: Silent protest held in Reno against President Trump and his administration
  • Indiana: Group marches on steps of the Terra Haute courthouse to stop government corruption
  • New York: Protesters rally in solidarity with Confront Corruption vigil at Syracuse federal building
  • Tennessee: Emergency Vigil to Confront Corruption & Defend Democracy in Nashville
  • Georgia: President Trump’s controversial Russia comments spark Atlanta protest
  • Kentucky: Dozens gather at Lexington courthouse for democracy vigil
  • Utah: Crowd at Utah capitol calls Trump out for corruption
  • Colorado: Confront Corruption vigil speakers discuss democracy, Trump administration in Fort Collins
  • Florida: ‘Confront Corruption’ protest held near Mar-a-Lago
  • California: Rally and vigil for democracy held on State Street in Santa Barbara
  • Illinois: Trump-Putin meeting sparks Springfield candlelight vigil for democracy
  • Pennsylvania: Redding vigil – joined by protest dog – rallies against Trump
  • California: San Rafael vigil joins nationwide protest taking on Trump
  • Virginia: Roanoke protesters join nationwide vigil to mourn democracy

View a roundup of pictures of the vigils from various other events–New York City; Chicago; Woodstock, Va.; Doylestown, Pa.; Bar Harbor, Maine; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix, Ariz.; and more–in this Twitter moment. You can also watch a video of the vigil outside the White House that featured several senators and House members.

The Declaration for American Democracy coalition consists of American Oversight, American Promise, Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign to Unload, Center for American Progress, Center for Popular Democracy, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, CREDO, Demand Progress Action, Democracy 21, Democracy Initiative, Demos, End Citizens United, Every Voice, Franciscan Action Network, Indivisible, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Main Street Alliance, MoveOn, NAACP, National Action Network, National LGBTQ Task Force, Open the Government, People for the American Way, People’s Action, Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Rethink Media, Revolving Door Project, Sunlight Foundation, Sierra Club, Voices for Progress.

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