At democracy town hall, Senator Bernie Sanders commits to revitalize American democracy as President and endorses the use of democracy dollars to publicly finance federal elections
Concord, NH – At a democracy-focussed town hall discussion organized by reform groups Equal Citizens and Open Democracy Action, Senator Bernie Sanders committed to putting important democracy reforms at the top of his agenda if he is elected president.
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Sanders told reform advocate Lawrence Lessig that he would “absolutely” introduce a comprehensive package of anti-corruption and voting rights reforms as a first priority in order to allow Sanders to pursue his goals on issues like healthcare, education, climate change, and tax policy. “If we are interested in any of those issues, and a dozen more, then we have got to make sure we have elected officials who represent what the people want, not what wealthy campaign contributors want.”
Sanders on how to revitalize American democracy
He continued by saying that he will “prioritize” the need to “revitalize American democracy and create a campaign finance system that is based on justice, not billionaires buying elections.” This was Sanders’ clearest statement yet that these reforms, many of which were passed in early 2019 by the House of Representatives in a bill called HR1, the “For The People Act,” will be a clear early priority.
Sanders also made news when he gave a robust endorsement of democracy dollars or vouchers to publicly finance elections. He said that candidates should receive campaign funding from the public rather than “billionaires and the CEOs of large corporations,” because those donations distort policy priorities. He said he hopes that the government gives all citizens a “voucher” for an amount of money that permits all citizens to contribute funds to any candidate they want.
Bernie said that not only does this system allow people to run a campaign dependent on average citizens, but it “suddenly begins to get people to think about politics in a way that they have not thought about it before.” He said this says to all citizens, “you know what? I got a bit of power here. I better start studying whether I like candidate X or candidate Y. That’s an exciting idea.” He said this idea could “revitalize American democracy.”
Bernie Sanders on the issues
“This was a landmark event,” said Equal Citizens founder Lawrence Lessig. “We had a top-tier presidential candidate on stage for an hour discussing all the ways that he will work to improve our democracy and end corruption if he is elected president.” Lessig added: “We want to continue having these conversations with all the candidates of both parties, and we invite those that have not yet participated, including Senator Warren, Mayor Pete, Vice President Biden, and, yes, President Trump, to join us in 2020 to explore these critical issues.”
At the event, Sanders also discussed related topics like ending gerrymandering, restoring voting rights, and ending the electoral college. The event was part of a series of similar conversations hosted by Equal Citizens and Open Democracy Action, with additional support from Leadership Now.