Point: Beyond Impeachment, Restoring Our Democracy
With the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump, the impeachment saga will end. What next?
It’s likely we will hear recriminations and accusations, see finger-pointing and even name calling. More evidence related to the president’s phone call with the Ukrainian president may surface as court cases unfold, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman go to trial, and we finally see John Bolton’s book.
Any additional information should be shared with voters as they move forward to make decisions in this next and pivotal election. But we also must look forward and use the events of the past year to strengthen our democracy. We can enact long-lasting reforms that will help guard against future abuse of power and election interference by any president, no matter to which party he or she is affiliated.
A healthy democracy keeps our leaders and government accountable to the people. We know from polls that such a government is exactly what people want. They are tired of the tumult, the lies and the political ground shifting beneath their feet every day.
We should use this opportunity to step back and enact ways to prevent future corruption of our government. We should advance bold, comprehensive reforms to fix our political system.
We did it after Watergate: In reaction to the crimes committed by Richard Nixon associates, Congress in 1974 forged a comprehensive system of campaign finance regulation and enforcement, including the creation of the Federal Election Commission.
Such sweeping reform can be enacted again. We should not just stem the kind of blatant corruption that Trump engaged, but to go far beyond it to secure the kind of democracy that was envisioned by the Founders and in some ways we have yet to realize.
We’re already halfway there. The House of Representatives in March 2019 passed the For the People Act. Passage was followed closely by introduction and support in the Senate, before the bill stalled on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk.
The For the People Act is a bold, comprehensive set of anti-corruption, election security and political reforms that directly respond to the issues raised in the impeachment inquiry. The For the People Act would make sure our elected officials work for us, rather than using our government to further their own personal interests.
The For The People Act has three critical components: (1) shifting power from big money and corporate lobbyists to voters; (2) protecting and expanding the right to vote; and (3) restoring ethics and accountability.
The measure would bring dark money into the light, give small-dollar donors a bigger say in our elections, tighten rules on super PACs and make the Federal Election Commission work again. It would enhance federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, as well as increase oversight of election systems vendors and require the development of a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions.
The For The People Act would ban contributions and expenditures from corporations with significant foreign ownership or control. It would direct digital platforms to implement measures to prevent foreign nationals from directly or indirectly purchasing political ads and would restructure the FEC to have five commissioners, to break gridlock.
And it would create an investigatory and enforcement unit in the Department of Justice to help keep foreign money out of our elections, as the law requires.
The For the People Act passed the House of Representatives in March 2019 by an overwhelming majority. It has been stalled in the U.S. Senate ever since, despite being supported by 47 senators and a strong majority of the American public.
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans oppose the bold reforms demanded by the overwhelming majority of their constituents, they should have the courage to stand up and take a vote.
No more games, no more excuses, and no more delays. Our democracy works best when everyone can participate fully.
After the last few years of indictments, abuses of power, obstruction of Congress and more, voters deserve no less.
Lisa Gilbert is vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.