Our democracy is in trouble. Our federal political system no longer properly represents the interests of the broad majority of us, regardless of whether we are conservative, moderate, liberal or progressive.
We all pay and we are all affected by this.
We broke from Great Britain, fought a war and founded our country over this issue of improper representation. And our founders worried when debating how best to structure our new government, that it might happen again, and future generations of citizens, would come to feel they were no longer being properly represented. Voluminous evidence suggests that day is here.
- Campaigns have become incredibly expensive.
- Over 96% of all Americans do not directly provide any financial contributions to any federal politician or party.
- Incumbent politicians spend more of their time raising money from the wealthy few, and positioning themselves for advantage in the next election, than in reaching solutions on issues important to both our country and the majority of American citizens.
- Politicians have incentive to "lean to the green" and be sure their positions on law, regulation and policy are consistent with those of their wealthy funders.
- This distorts outcomes on issue after issue today, often in ways that favor the interests of those wealthy funders over the interests of the general public.
- Elections often turn on the amount of money raised to broadcast one-sided presentations of the candidates’ views over and over in the media.
- Conversely, we see a decreasing number of actual candidate debates where candidates can be evaluated on the strength of their presentations on issues of interest to a wide spectrum of voters.
- What debates do occur are increasingly controlled by the candidates and political parties and less and less often organized by truly independent entities.
- The structure of these debates often shapes what issues actually get discussed and inhibits detailed follow up questions to fully flesh out candidate positions.
- Current scheduling of state primaries and caucuses gives undue weight and attention to states like Iowa and New Hampshire and denies voters in many other states the opportunity to participate early in the selection process for presidential candidates.
- In many states, periodic redrawing of voting districts by the political party in control of the legislature often results in less competition among candidates and the selection of more ideologically extreme candidates.
- Candidates are often selected in closed primaries by only small percentages of more engaged voters.
- Subsequently, these candidates often become the only alternatives available for the larger numbers of more centrist voters in the general election.
- Electing candidates by a plurality of votes often results in winning candidates who do not have the support and validation of a majority of voters.
- All this results in the problems we now see in Congress and a general loss of confidence in our federal government.
- Between 1935 and 1980, 70% of the growth of US Income went to the bottom 90% of all Americans. But between 1997 and 2012, the U.S. had a complete reversal: 72% went to the top 1%, the bulk of the rest to the next 9%, leaving little for the bottom 90% of all Americans. (The Economic Policy Institute, based on economist Emmanuel Saez's research on U.S. Income Tax Returns.)
- Recent research shows US policy bends to attitudes of the affluent, with zero correlation to the public good whenever the interests of these two groups diverge. (Martin Gilens, Affluence and Influence, Princeton 2014)
- All of the above contributes to the "improper representation" of the broad public interests of "We the People".
Democracy Amendments Coalition participants are committed to reforming this systemic corruption of our government to again provide "proper representation" for its citizens. It's the paramount issue of our time, for it goes to the heart of citizen representation sought in The Declaration of Independence and which our framers attempted to provide in our Constitution and the Democratic Republic promised its citizens."