As the Democratic Primary kicks into high gear, it is increasingly clear that 2020 could give America a choice that it has not had since Richard Nixon resigned: An election that promises critical change to our political system. At least 7 of the remaining candidates in the Democratic primary have committed to making fundamental government reform their first priority in office. We have not been this close to real change of America’s politics since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It is therefore time that the candidates’ plans — and how they differ –become the focus of more media attention.
Michael Bennet, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang have promised both to make this reform happen, and to happen first. This itself is a first in the history of American politics.
The inspiration, in part, for this movement is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Many of these candidates are following the template of HR 1 or the “For the People Act of 2019.” In the lead-up to the 2018 election, Pelosi’s colleague, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), convinced her and the Democratic leadership to make political reform the priority in 2019, if indeed the Democrats won control of the House. Pelosi delivered on her promise, passing HR 1 in March this year. But as important as the substance of that bill is, the title is even more important — by denominating the bill as first, Pelosi said what reformers have been insisting upon for decades now: that we must fix democracy before democracy can sensibly address America’s problems.
HR 1 had packaged four critical reforms (among others) in a single bill: a small-dollar matching system to help fund congressional campaigns, an end to political gerrymandering, a promise to restore the Voting Rights Act, and the end of at least some of the revolving doors in DC that make it so difficult for our government to actually represent America.