With the conclusion of the first national election following the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and another sweeping election characterized by widespread electoral discrimination especially among our most vulnerable populations, it is clear that issues of democracy are at the forefront of national political consciousness. In the short term, we believe there is immense potential in focusing our energy on improving the voting system.
However, in the long term, our future depends on tackling money in politics head on. Sixty-four percent of Roosevelters surveyed ahead of the 2016 election are interested in addressing the outsized influence of money in politics. Eighty percent of the young people surveyed cared more about addressing the gaping holes in our democracy than seeing their favored candidate win an election. We believe that issues of student debt, financialization, and private prisons are all made much harder to address because of the moneyed interests arrayed against them.
Going beyond electoral politics, we must remove barriers to participation and challenge current and future decision makers to more effectively engage our generation beyond the voting booth.
While the conversation around participation has focused on the national level, it is important to recognize the civic and electoral engagement can and should begin at the local level. From approaching your local city clerk to finding ways to engage with your local town hall, Roosevelters know that democracy starts at home.
We believe in:
- A political system that values the full and varied forms of participation of its citizens and non-citizens
- A political system that strives for equal representation and reduces barriers to the voting booth and the decision-making rooms of our legislatures and agencies
- A political system that prioritizes the vote over the dollar and recognizes that a robust and health democracy is critical to achieving our vision for America.
Some key organizations engaged in the fight include Demos, the Brennan Center, Bus Federation, ChicagoVotes, Common Cause and Local Progress. To get started on reading materials, start with these pieces by Brennan Center, Demos, and NY Times. And, to actively track democratic access litigation in your area, begin here and here.
Below, we outline Roosevelt’s core democratic access issues and policy projects. A special thank you to the members of our Democratic Access Working group: Sam Garzillo, Jeremy Seitz-Brown, Joshua Ferrer, Jacob Naimark, Robert Godfried, Asha Athman, Quentin Mareuse, Laurie Roberts, and Catherine Zinnel.