Democracy Initiative Update 01.29.21

Friday, January 29, 2021
Moving forward, the DI Update will be released on a monthly basis.

Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: PASS THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT (HR1/S1)

On December 7, the Democracy Initiative sent a letter to Congress strongly endorsing the “For the People Act,” the transformational legislation passed by the House in March that aims to revitalize our democracy and fulfill the promise of our country’s ideals. Speaker Pelosi has pledged to introduce the For the People Act on the first day of the new

The new administration has quickly begun to govern with the enactment of a series of executive orders aimed at putting our country and our democracy on the path to recovery. With the Senate introduction of the For the People Act as "S. 1," Democrats have demonstrated their collective intention to prioritize the passage of the most significant federal democracy reform package in history. Impeachment proceedings and the consequences of the failed January 6 attack, however, make it likely that we will not see a House floor vote on H.R. 1 until the end of February.

Without structural democracy reform, our nation will remain unable to fully address important substantive priorities for the American people. As organizations on the front lines of economic challenge and racial injustice, DI partners collectively understand that this is not just about democracy as an end in itself, but a necessary step to achieving social and economic justice and building a better world for us all. The For the People Act is a bill that will bring us one critical step closer to repairing our political system, revitalizing our democracy, and fulfilling the promise of our country's ideals.

Despite strong support for H.R. 1/S. 1 in the House and Senate, elected officials need to hear the overwhelming demand for democracy reform from their constituents. They need to hear from the 45 million members of our 75 partner organizations to hold them accountable to the everyday people that placed them in office to govern on their behalf.

Here’s how you can engage:

  • Call-in Day on Tuesday, February 2: Coalition partners are organizing a call-in day on February 2—activate your members/volunteers in these key districts and encourage them to call their Representative at 202-224-3121 to thank them for their past support of H.R. 1—the For the People Act— and urge them to make its passage a priority this year:
    • Axne (IA)
    • Luria (VA)
    • McEachin (VA)
    • Murphy (FL)
    • O’Halleran (AZ)
    • Schrader (OR)
    • Sherrill (NJ)
    • Slotkin (MI)
    • Spanberger (VA)
    • Stevens (MI)
  • Weekly Phonebank: DI partner Common Cause is holding phonebanks, where volunteers will call constituents in key congressional districts to ask them to call their Representative’s office to voice their support of H.R. 1—and patch through constituents that say yes. Phone banks are every week at the times below. Sign up using these links:

Here are resources that will help your organization in your advocacy for this transformational package of democracy reforms:

  • Presentation from Demos on the racial equity impact of some of H.R. 1's voting and campaign finance reforms. Their team has analyzed democracy reform policies contained in H.R. 1/S. 1 that demonstrate how this transformative structural reform will contribute to a more racially equitable, inclusive democracy, which should prove useful for your organization's advocacy.
  • Memo from Campaign Legal Center on the bipartisan lineage of key components of the bill, including modernizing voter registration, voting rights restoration, voting by mail, Independent Redistricting Commissions, transparency in elections (DISCLOSE Act) and transparency for digital political advertising (Honest Ads Act), small dollar public financing, FEC reform, and stopping super PAC-candidate.

For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

GET ENGAGED: JOIN SENATE GOVERNANCE & STATE VOTING RIGHTS WORK GROUPS

Senate Rules Reform is one of the democracy issues that brought the DI’s cross-sector coalition together back in 2012 because Mitch McConnell’s out-of-control obstructionism was blocking progress on the issues our partner organization and their members care about. With only a slim minority in the Senate, McConnell is once again in the position to place urgent reforms such as the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood in his legislative graveyard through use of the filibuster. Our movement cannot afford to squander this moment.

Partners interested in staying updated with opportunities to engage in the coming Senate Rules work should join our Senate Governance Work Group here. Organizations with members and local affiliates in the key states of AZ and WV are especially encouraged to join us. To learn more about the DI’s position, you can download the DI’s Fix the Senate explainer here.

Around the country, the opposition is placing anti-democratic bill after anti-democratic bill on the table to continue the last administration’s assault on our elections. If we wish to protect and expand on the historic gains our movement has made in voting reforms over the last several years, it is imperative that we organize to stop these bills. We encourage all of our partners to sign up for the State VBM and Voting Rights Group here.

INSURRECTION, IMPEACHMENT, AND INAUGURATION

It was only one day after the incredible victory in Georgia—won by the tireless efforts of Black grassroots organizers and activists—that we witnessed the dying gasp of Trump’s tyrannical four-year reign, in which radicalized white supremacists stormed the Capitol in an attempted and unsuccessful insurrection.

Interim Executive Director Jennifer Lamson gave the following statement in response to the events of January 6:

“We strongly condemn yesterday’s violent attack on the Capitol by an armed mob seeking to prevent the orderly transfer of power to the incoming Administration.

“Make no mistake: Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 elections, refusal to accept the results, and ongoing support for white supremacy are the fuel that sparked this dangerous fire. We agree with those across the political spectrum – from Common Cause to the NAACP to the National Association of Manufacturers – who are calling for Trump to be removed from office immediately, before he can do more damage to our democracy.

“Irresponsible politicians like Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and far too many others who have enabled Trump’s increasingly unhinged attempt to overturn a legitimate, democratic election must also be held accountable.

“The American people must have a full accounting of why the Capitol Police were not more prepared for this attack. When contrasted with the overwhelming police presence that Black Lives Matter protesters faced after the murder of George Floyd, the failure of police to stop angry, armed white people from swarming the halls of Congress makes it crystal clear that defeating white supremacy is essential to realizing the promise of our democracy.

“The American people voted in record numbers in the 2020 elections, despite a deadly pandemic and orchestrated mass voter suppression. They made it clear that it is time for the Congress and the White House to govern and solve the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID.

“Democracy Initiative partners work on the front lines of the fight for racial, social and economic justice, and know that inclusive democracy and effective governance are essential to achieving these goals. On their behalf, we demand swift and severe consequences for all those who perpetrated, enabled and incited Wednesday’s shameful attack on our nation."

Coalition members, allies, and others from across the political spectrum joined in denouncing the dangerous attack, and many called for the immediate impeachment of Trump. See some of the collected partner and ally statements here.

After the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, DI partners reacted with hopefulness and renewed determination to fight for structural democracy reform and progress on the issues their members care about.

DI anchor partner statements:

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