The presidential primary process is entering it’s final stage, and with that, millions of young progressives are looking for ways to stay involved in the political process. Senator Sanders’ ascension as a legitimate presidential candidate has had a huge impact on changing the politics of the possible. And now, there’s a unique opportunity to encourage and empower a new wave of young leaders ready to make real progressive change.
In the last two months, our state has seen two of the most powerful politicians sentenced to multiple years in prison. While their crimes are troubling, the part of this story that is the most shocking is how so many New Yorkers weren’t even surprised. Why? Because everyone knows that the system is rigged. They know that the super-rich have done everything they can think of to win more power and control – all for the sake of raking in more profit – no matter the cost to us.
But the politics of this moment have changed the dynamic in Albany and around the country. There’s new energy and popular support to fix the system in big ways that put the people back in charge.
On Monday, I had the privilege of joining a broad coalition of activists, community organizations, faith leaders and elected officials at Capitol in Albany to demand systemic change. On Thursday, we gathered again in New York City to call for change. We have come together to #DemandDemocracy – by pushing a bold agenda for comprehensive changes that will truly be an answer to the problems we’re facing in New York. The campaign is calling on Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to:
Institute publicly funded elections:
A small donor matching system where small contributions are matched with public dollars to elevate the voices of everyday New Yorkers like you and me.
Pass comprehensive campaign finance reform: In addition to publicly funded elections, we need to close the LLC loophole; lower contribution limits for candidates and committees; and put reasonable limits on transfers to check big money interests and how they influence elections. New York’s legislature should support the call to overturn Citizens United.
Modernize New York’s antiquated voting processes: Reform New York’s voting laws by providing automatic registration at a broad range of government agencies, allow all New Yorkers to register and update their registration online, and provide for more flexible voting opportunities.
Protect and expand voting rights: Over 40,000 New Yorkers who are on parole must be allowed to vote. We need a full investigation of the purging of voter rolls and new training, support and oversight for boards of elections to make sure that voters are never unfairly removed from the rolls again.
Restore faith in government: We need meaningful ethics reform, which includes eliminating pension benefits for convicted officials, banning the personal use of campaign funds, creating a full-time legislature with sharp limits on conflicts of interest, and requiring full-disclosure of outside income to make sure politicians work for all the people.
Make no mistake – this campaign will ruffle plenty of feathers. But while our opposition has unlimited money, they lack creativity. Don’t be surprised when groups magically appear to fight against bills that will empower ordinary New Yorkers. Their attacks are always the same. They will try to use fear tactics by pumping out ads that depict parolees as criminals ready to wreak havoc at the ballot box. When that plan falls flat, they will use the current flawed rules to pump money into the pockets of our elected leaders, to keep these bills from ever seeing the light of day. We know their playbook by heart – there is no reason we can’t beat them.
The days when policies were impacted by the whims of the wealthy few are coming to an end. And if we are to have any influence on the future of this state and our country, it is extremely important that we fight for and implement radical change in the way we elect people to office, fund campaigns and lift up people’s voices. History has shown over and over what happens when the masses stand up for a common goal. Monday’s Demand Democracy event was further proof that we are on the right side of history.