Political Corruption Activism Opportunities

  • Automatic Voter Registration via @BrennanCenter — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Automatic Voter Registration.

    According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 21 states have enacted new voting restrictions in the last five years. In 15 of those states, the new laws including voter registration rollbacks to early voting cuts to voter ID requirements will be in effect for the 2016 election.

    As these voter disenfranchisements have spread, however, a handful of states are attempting to expand access to the ballot. Oregon passed automatic voter registration in March and California followed suit last week. New Jersey’s legislature sent their bill to the governor’s desk where it awaits his signature.

    After Governor Jerry Brown signed the law, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla tweeted an obvious, but apparently necessary declaration: “Democracy is stronger when more citizens can vote!”

    As voting rights guru Ari Berman reported at The Nation this week:

    "You’d think that would be a truism in a democracy, but unfortunately far too many states under Republican control have enacted new laws making it harder to vote in recent years. From 2011 to 2015, 468 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 49 states...It’s a shame that on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a quarter of Americans–51 million citizens–are not registered to vote. Let’s hope more states follow the model of California.”

    There is a push — lead by the Brennan Center — for national automatic voter registration. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island introduced The Automatic Voter Registration Act this summer and 45 cosponsors have signed on in support. There are also a number of bills circulating through state legislatures that would eliminate the barrier of having to affirmatively register to vote.

    Voter expansion has leaked into the presidential race with candidate Hillary Clinton calling for widespread reform and criticizing republican candidates for supporting restrictions. Right now is THE time to raise awareness and push the issue on a national level.

    You can find the full list of bills in the Brennan Center’s "Automatic Voter Registration” post which is part of their “Voting Rights and Elections” section of the “Issues” tab at BrennanCenter.org, or by clicking the link in the segment notes. Use ContactingTheCongress.org to drop your national representatives a note asking them to support The Automatic Voter Registration Act and find your state reps at OpenStates.Org to support voter expansion where you live.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws

    Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation

    "Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times

    "Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill

    "Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal

    "Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times

    "Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #961 "Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #WeWantDebate in #Election2016 via @Lessig2016 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Let Lessig Debate.

    If you haven’t heard — and with the media blackout you likely haven’t, Lawrence Lessig is running for president. He’s running on a single issue: campaign reform. He’s said that he wants to hold office for a very brief period of time, telling U.S. News & World Report: "My vice president, I want to be president as soon as possible.”

    Lessig’s plan would be to enact election reform within the first year and then turn the office over to his running mate, but he’s resisting the term “protest candidate.” He wants to run and win, calling Congress “the fundamental weakness in our democracy,” largely because of political corruption.

    Lessig would make voter registration automatic, get rid of photo I.D. requirements and change Election Day to a weekend for better accessibility. He would also restructure congressional elections by creating multi-member districts and restricting government officials’ ability to become lobbyists.

    He’s certainly not the only person who thinks that no other issue is solvable until there’s a radical fix to the system that doesn’t just allow candidates to be purchased, but demands they spend at least as much time fundraising as governing just to stay in office. However, despite a fast start to his campaign, Lessig is not likely to be allowed in the Democratic debates.

    You can sign his campaign's “Let Lessig Debate" petition at Lessig2016.us to let the Democratic National Committee and corporate media know you want the democratic debates to be, well, democratic. Lessig spoke at the New Hampshire Party Convention along with the other candidates and he’s raised over $1 million in under a month from close to 10,000 people — surely there is room for his voice in the debates.

    It’s unlikely that without Lessig’s presence, the foundational issue of election reform will be addressed at all. So, whether you would support him as the nominee or not, take the time to sign the petition at Lessig2016.us to ensure that the other candidates and the media cannot ignore our broken system.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the petition: Let Lessig Debate! from the Lessig2016 campaign

    Sources/further reading:

    "Democrat Debate Controversy: Will Lawrence Lessig Be Included?” via Forbes

    "Larry Lessig Seeks A Single Issue, Single Year Presidency” via U.S.News and World Report

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #957 "Citizens demanding equal power (Money in politics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a glimmer of hope to remind you that not absolutely everything is completely terrible all the time. Today’s update: MayDay PAC's #Leaders4Reform.

    Last year, in order to change how our elections are funded, Lawrence Lessig launched “the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs” — MayDay.US. He was shrugged off by mainstream press and his grand idea seemed impossible even to those who hoped he would succeed.

    Then something incredible happened.

    "We raised the initial $1 million in 13 days, rather than 30," Lessig wrote at Medium. "That was matched two weeks later, and then we launched the second campaign. Thirty days after that, we crossed the $5 million mark...By the end of our campaign, we had raised $11 million of the $12 million that we had planned, with more than 50,000 donors from almost every state in the union.”

    When that monetary success didn’t translate into wins in the voting booth in November, Lessig decided to relaunch with the goal of winning over current members of the House and Senate in order to pass legislation now. With a bill introduced in the Senate and 151 of the 218 House members needed to guarantee a reform majority, that goal looks increasingly within reach.

    At MayDay.US you can contribute to the momentum of identifying leaders for reform and support the Fair Elections Now Act, Senator Dick Durbin’s bill which has added twenty co-sponsors less than a month after being introduced.

    From the MayDay.US home page you can record a voice message in support of reform legislation which MayDay will deliver to key members of Congress, call your representatives directly using their handy script, view the full list of Leaders for Fundamental Reform, and encourage those not yet signed on to join the fight via social media using the hashtag #Leaders4Reform.

    MayDay still plans to target and support pro-reform candidates for Congress next year; they simply aren’t sitting on their hands in the meantime. Lessig’s ability to adapt and continue with their mission is just one more reason to support the work MayDay is doing.

    Update!

    S.1538 - Fair Elections Now Act

    Follow-up/new Action: #Leaders4Reform w/@MAYDAYUS

    Leave a message for Congress: Citizen Recording Studio

    Build a bigger #Leaders4Reform coalition: Call your representatives

    Sources/additional glimmers of hope:

    "The 'Super PAC to End Super PACs' Makes a Strategic Retreat” at Bloomberg Politics

    "We tried. We learned. We’re trying something new: Mayday.US, v2” by Lawrence Lessig

    "Frodo Baggins for President” by Lawrence Lessig

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #937 "Making progress on our biggest problem (Money in Politics)"

    Revisit the original action/segment:

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Real Representative Democracy via @FairVote - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Real Representative Democracy — FairVote.org.

    Our country's election process is broken. No one listening to this podcast needed election 2014’s mixed results or record low voter turn out to persuade them that our democracy’s fundamental tenet could use a tune-up. World War II was raging last time we had turn out this low and certainly a lack of trust in the system is contributing to the apathy epidemic.

    But what if we could give American democracy an upgrade? That’s the optimistic — yet entirely feasible — goal of the organization Fair Vote.

    According to FairVote.org, their mission "advances systemic electoral reform to achieve a fully participatory and truly representative democracy that respects every vote and every voice in every election...We promote ranked choice voting (“instant runoff”), a constitutionally protected right to vote, a national popular vote for president, and, most fundamentally, fair representation voting forms of proportional representation.”

    They’ve already succeeded in getting enough jurisdictions to pass legislation supporting a popular vote for the president to equal almost two-thirds of the electoral votes needed to win the White House — an accomplishment that makes Fair Vote’s next set of concrete goals seem within reach.

    “Representation 2020” seeks gender parity in elected representation. Women only make up 18% of Congress and hold under a quarter of state legislative seats — a stat that puts the U.S. well behind Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, China and Vietnam. We rank 80th in female elected officials — which should be a source of national embarrassment.

    And the “Reform 2020” campaign seeks to end gerrymandering, make voting an explicit Constitutional right, bring about a national popular vote for the presidency and uphold voter choice and majority rule through ranked choice voting.

    Run off voting is already implemented in San Francisco and Oakland, California; Portland, Maine; and Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. None of these city legislatures fell apart when ballot accommodations were made to make room for third party and independent candidates with built-in back-up selections for cautious voters. Even as a push for reforms nationally moves slowly but steadily, this is particular democracy enhancement is one you can demand of your local city councils and state houses.

    Get involved by supporting the Fair Vote’s goals for 2020, following FairVote on social media and spreading the word about election reform, tracking pending legislation, and signing their periodic petitions.

    Don’t let your anger at the broken system keep you home on election day. Instead, use it as motivation to make our democracy stronger and fight to reduce apathy by getting us closer to having every vote count and be counted.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with Fair Vote

    Follow FairVote on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Reform 2020

    Representation 2020

    Sources/further reading:

    "Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest since WWII” via The Washington Post

    "The Gender Gap: Percentage of Women in Government Worldwide. We're Number One, Right? Not So Much…” via Daily Kos

    ”Jim Crow Returns: millions of minority voters threatened by electoral purge by Greg Palast at Al Jazeera America

    Watch: Brad Friedman (@TheBradBlog) on Thom Hartmann’s The Big Picture discussing #Election2014 result reliability.

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #877 "Hair of the dog (Election)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • McCutcheon: Citizen’s United Take Two

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Rich, white men rule this country. We can deny it and point out anomalies, but by and large rich, white and male is the trifecta — a winning lottery ticket to a life of ease and power. And as minorities become the majority, women and the LGBTQ community chip away at the millennia-long privilege, and equality gets chiseled into our federal and state constitutions — the Koch brothers & their ilk are doubling down on their efforts to rig the system.

    As the governmental accountability nonprofit Common Cause explains on their website: If the Court sides with the plaintiff in McCutcheon v. FEC and overturns aggregate contribution limits, a single individual could spend as much as $3.6 million on a single election -- enough to buy the attention of the President and every single member of Congress.

    Take Action:

    Take Action on McCutcheon v FEC at the Common Cause website.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Citizens United, Take Two, episode #811 "The affliction of wealth on people and society (Economics)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Brave New Films

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Robert Greenwald revolutionized activist documentary filmmaking when he launched Brave New Films in 2002. Moved by the voter rights abuses in the 2000 election, Greenwald discovered audiences were similarly hungry for in-depth investigations told through personal, relatable stories. You may have seen some of his work without even realizing it; take this opportunity to binge on what you’ve missed.

    Take Action:

    Watch existing documentary films and shorts, follow on social media and keep up on the latest projects: Brave New Films from Robert Greenwald

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: Brave New Films, episode #800 "A parody of itself (Media)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich