At White House, Advocates Urged Biden to Reprioritize Democracy In 2024
100,000 Petitions Asked Biden to “Combat Corruption, Defend Democracy”
Washington, D.C. – Advocates today with the Declaration for American Democracy coalition delivered 100,000 petitions to the White House urging President Biden to continue emphasizing the need to pass transformative democracy reforms – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – and urged him to sign more executive actions to strengthen democracy. The advocates also asked Biden to support efforts in Congress to overturn Citizens United fourteen years after the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision.
Download photos from the event here (photo credit: Joy Asico-Smith).
“We have been thrilled to see President Biden’s robust and ongoing commitment to democracy issues. In his recent speech at Valley Forge he went so far as to call Democracy the cornerstone issue of his Presidency,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President of Public Citizen. “We’re here today to call on him to continue the drumbeat: To make loud and clear that he will make passing the Freedom to Vote Act and John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act his first priority in the new Congress, and in the interim to use the power of the executive to do everything he can to reform our system.”
“Every year our organization measures perceptions of corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world, including perceptions of corruption here in the United States. And that has shown that more than any other major developed country in the world, people think that rich people buy elections in the United States,” said Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy, Transparency International U.S. “Even though Citizens United has put in serious obstacles to reform, we know that even that warped, legal framework leaves avenues open for change – change that the Congress and this White House can take in order to prevent corruption and rebuild the public’s faith that our democracy can deliver.”
“Fourteen years ago, the disastrous Citizens United ruling unleashed a flood of big and corporate money in politics – we’re out here today to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech,” said Christine Wood, Co-Director of the Declaration for American Democracy. “We need action to defend and strengthen our democracy so that every person’s voice can be heard.”
“The consequences of Citizens United are overwhelmingly evident in the flood of dark money that saturates our elections,” said Rio Tazewell, Director of Campaigns for People For the American Way. “Behind closed doors, decisions are made, policies are shaped, and the voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by the megaphone of corporate influence. To restore the health of our democracy, we must overturn Citizens United and take bold steps to get big money out of politics. We must pass the Democracy For All amendment and allow Congress and state legislatures to enact reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money in elections. It’s time to level the playing field and strengthen the foundation of our representative democracy, where elected officials are accountable to their constituents, not to the highest bidder.”
“From oil-backed Supreme Court Justices who have repeatedly gutted the Voting Rights Act, thwarted climate action, and upheld outrageous gerrymanders, to oil-backed state legislators advancing hundreds of bills to make voting harder for communities of color, to oil-backed members of Congress who block critical voting rights and climate legislation, the time has come to acknowledge that friends of Big Oil are no friends of democracy,” said League of Conservation Voters Senior Director of Judiciary & Democracy Doug Lindner. “The same communities of color and communities with low wealth that face the greatest harm from environmental injustice also bear the greatest burden of voter suppression. We have to fight for them.”
“I stand here today among you to urge President Biden to be bold, and to do everything he can by executive action to protect voting rights and strengthen our democracy,” said Min. Christian S. Watkins, Government Relations Advocate, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “We must face facts: our American democracy is under threat. And for the past several years, extremist legislators across our country have been sabotaging valid election results and passing laws to make it harder to vote. The burdens of those actions fall hardest on Black, Latino, and other voters of color.”
“In 2021, President Biden signed an important executive order to strengthen ethics for executive branch employees. He also signed an executive order to address voting rights, to encourage voting participation. But there are so many more things he can do,” said Adam Smith, Vice President for Democracy Initiatives, Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Smith cited specific executive actions President Biden could take, including creating a White House office to focus on policies to strengthen democratic systems and civic participation; working with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Election Commission, and other agencies to expose and crack down on dark money in elections; and directing the DOJ to publish written guidance on how prosecutorial decisions are made. Read the Declaration for American Democracy’s full list of recommended executive actions here.
The Declaration for American Democracy is a coalition of over 250+ organizations from the labor, racial justice, voting rights, faith, environmental, women’s rights, good government, and many other important communities, representing tens of millions of Americans.