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Watchdog Groups Urge Presidential Candidates to Endorse Agenda to Empower Everyday People in Politics

July 23, 2015 | Adam Smith

Washington, D.C.—Presidential candidates serious about changing the “culture” in Washington should agree to a bold democracy reform agenda being released today by Every Voice and other leading national organizations fighting for a political system that works for everyday people.

The document, Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda, offers a comprehensive policy platform to reduce the influence of money in politics and empower people to have a real voice in our democracy. It provides candidates with a roadmap to take Americans’ cynicism about the money in politics problem head-on and credibly engage voters on solutions in their campaigns.

“Presidential candidates on both sides have been talking a big game about money’s influence in politics, but without a concrete plan of action, voters will just tune them out,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “This set of principles offers popular commonsense policies that, if enacted, would go a long way toward raising the voices of everyday people in the political process and restoring trust in our democratic institutions.”

The agenda is based on five commonsense principles.

  1. Everyone participates.
  2. Everyone has a voice.
  3. Everyone knows who’s funding campaigns.
  4. Everyone plays by commonsense rules.
  5. Everyone is held accountable for bad behavior.

As the Washington Post reported this spring, money in politics is “a rising issue” in the 2016 campaign. Nearly every candidate, Republican and Democrat, has decried money’s influence in politics or criticized the “lobbying culture” in Washington, but very few have offered a detailed plan on what they’ll do to change it. Recent polling by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times indicates that voters want candidates who’ll act, and not just give lip service to the issue of our broken campaign finance system.

“Every candidate in the race should endorse this agenda and show true leadership by offering a concrete plan on how they’ll implement it if elected,” continued Donnelly. “With an elite group of the wealthiest Americans set to have more influence in this election than ever before and voter cynicism at all-time highs, talk is no longer enough.”

A copy of the agenda was sent to every declared presidential candidate, urging them to sign on to all or parts of the document. The groups will be requesting meetings with every campaign and they will face bird-dogging, to start, in New Hampshire in Iowa.

The full agenda is available here.

In addition to Every Voice, the 11 other groups that developed the agenda include the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy 21, Democracy Matters, Demos, Issue One, Mayday, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and U.S. PIRG.


Every Voice is a national nonpartisan organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone. Learn more at everyvoice.org.

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.