Politicians don’t do what voters want. They do what big donors want. Sen. John McCain calls it “legalized bribery.” Big money from special interests and corporations pervert our laws. It’s why our tax code is riddled with loopholes benefiting corporations and the wealthy (that results in everyone else paying more taxes), it’s why our energy policy favors big oil, it’s why our prescription drugs are overpriced, it’s why student debt is so high, and why our healthcare policy lags so far behind other developed countries.
Thanks to terrible Supreme Court rulings such as Citizens United, politicians rely more and more on big money to win elections. And when our lawmakers arrive in Washington, too often, they are bought and paid for by wealthy special interest groups and huge corporations. Our lawmakers represent the donors and our laws reflect the special interest. Not the public interest.
Don’t take our word for it. A study by professors at Princeton and Northwestern revealed that our representatives are more likely to pass laws that a minority of wealthy people want than what the majority of regular people want.
We need common sense reforms such as robust public financing for all elections, a ban on corporations and unions from spending money to influence elections, and strict limits on campaign contributions. Learn more about big money in politics here.
Every vote should count. But in many states lots of people never even get to vote. Discriminatory barriers disproportionately block minorities, students, the disabled, and the poor from exercising their right to vote.
In 2012, African-Americans waited nearly twice as long to vote as White-Americans. In many areas, they had to stand in line for as much as 5 hours.
Other barriers to voting include complex voter registration rules, long lines at the polling booth, the limiting of early and absentee voting, the restricting of voting rights for people with felony convictions, and other practices.
We need to restore the Voting Rights Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court has begun to dismantle such as in Shelby County v. Holder (2013)—making it even more crucial for us to ensure strong protections at the local, state, and federal level of our government. And we need to modernize the voter registration process, such as online registration, portable registration, pre-registration, same-day registration, and automatic registration, as well as the restoration of voting rights for ex-offenders and expanded early and absentee voting.