For Immediate Release
January 4, 2019
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
Dear DI Partners and Friends,
Here at the Democracy Initiative (DI), we bring a unique view of national trends and hyperlocal conversations about voting, campaign finance, redistricting, and other core elements of a thriving democracy. Together with our 68 member organizations and 45 million members, we have seen time and again how policy changes to strengthen our democracy unify all of us—black, white, and brown; conservative and liberal.
That’s why we know—reflected in the 116th Congress taking office this week and introducing HR 1 as its first bill—that people in this country are hungrier than ever for a healthy, strong, and fully-functioning democracy. The recent government shutdown is only the latest example of this need. The midterms made this message loud and clear, when bills to make voting more accessible and redistricting less partisan won the day in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, and more—regardless of who was at the top of the ticket.
The stakes for HR 1 are terribly high. The proposed historic bill includes many long-sought, critical changes to make our democracy a truly participatory one: where people from all walks of life have maximum access to the time and opportunity they need to cast their votes. The recent government shutdown has shown the need for measures to hold elected leaders accountable. At the same time, the bill outlines vital protections to make our democratic process safe from tampering or threat. There are many foreign and special interests—and elected leaders—who would like to see the whole system wither on the vine.
But as lifelong advocates for democracy, let us be clear: we cannot take too narrow a view of the seismic shifts underway across our country. HR1 is only the beginning of a fight for democracy that demands action at every level of government, 365 days a year. Yes, it is heartening to see a new class in Congress finally stepping up to curb an administration at the edge of chaos. But we must also recognize this moment springs from the actions of the people: the voters from all walks of life who showed us that democracy is the great unifier, regardless of demographic, life experience or issue.
For this reason, the DI is a proud member of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition, where we are working with a diverse coalition to make the most of the “HR1” fight in Congress. Our shared goal is to demonstrate broad public support and political value in strengthening democracy, in order to create demand and push for bold reforms. Many individual DI partners have formally joined the DFAD Coalition and endorsed the ‘Principles.’ We would strongly encourage all of our partners to consider endorsing the DFAD Mission Statement and formally joining the effort!
- The plan is to proceed quickly to hearings and committee mark-ups, during the first weeks of January. These hearings, likely to be held in multiple committees of jurisdiction, are opportunities to generate press attention, to provide points of entry for the field and grassroots activists, and to push for the strongest and most meaningful democracy reforms possible.
- The first Congressional recess is the week of January 21st, MLK Day recess. During this week, many Members will hold local townhalls or make other public appearances, they will also be available for in-district constituent meetings.