State of the Union: For the People Act, H.R.1
President Biden should state his commitment to transforming our democracy and passing the For the People Act in his first State of the Union.
Every year, the State of the Union is a pivotal moment for the president to clearly state their top policies and priorities, and set the tone for the coming year.
As President Biden currently confronts a historic set of challenges—carrying us out of a crippling pandemic, rebuilding our economy, advancing racial justice, grappling with climate change, and more—this year’s address will serve as a critical moment to chart a new way forward.
To make meaningful progress on the challenging issues facing our country, we need a fully functioning democracy. This means a democracy where all voices can be heard; where the public interest, not special interests, guide decision-making; and where the people can put faith in their leaders to do the right thing for the country.
To get us there, President Biden must prioritize comprehensive democracy reform, both through the legislative process and executive actions. This starts with championing the passage of the For the People Act—comprehensive democracy reform legislation termed a top priority by both the House and Senate—and expressing this commitment on the night of his State of the Union.
The For the People Act is a once-in-a-generation democracy reform package that will expand and protect voting rights for all, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, get dark money out of politics, and restore transparency and accountability in our government. This bold legislation will pave the way for progress on issues that voters, including people in the Blue Wave Postcard Movement, care about and are top of mind for President Biden.
In the past four years, we’ve seen rampant corruption and a disregard for ethics, oversight and rule of law in our country. [Our current system turns a blind eye to partisan gerrymandering, dark money in politics, and voter suppression tactics.
Although there were some very positive changes to voting access in the 2020 election, we also saw this corruption in action throughout the last election cycle. Some voters – particularly disenfranchised communities such as communities of color – dealt with broken voting machines, stood in line for hours, and were turned away from casting their ballot without clear explanation—all while trying to stay safe from the pandemic. The For the People Act would lock in the positive changes and help correct what went wrong last year and long before that.
The real-world effects of democracy reform can’t be overstated. In addition to those voter suppression tactics, consider this:
- Partisan gerrymandering results in minority representation and inaction on issues that the majority of voters favor - a serious climate change plan, infrastructure updates, economic relief during the pandemic crisis, fair wages, racial justice, and sensible gun legislation, to name a few.
- Dark Money in politics subverts the will of the average citizen by funding disinformation campaigns to influence voters against their own interests, and financing public officials to ally their votes with corporate donors rather than the communities that elected them. (Look to recent events in Texas to see how well deregulation and inequipped response worked during a freezing climate event.)
In addition to same-day registration and other voting reforms, allowing election day to be a holiday would allow more voters to make their voices heard by not having to take a day off from work, especially the working class/working poor.
Bottom line - it simply should not be so hard to VOTE in this country.
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer have delivered on their promise of advancing meaningful change in our democracy. The For the People Act was reintroduced in the House as H.R. 1 last month, and the Senate has announced that it will introduce the bill as one of their first orders of business.
During his campaign, President Biden had similarly expressed support for actualizing policies that create a full, participatory democracy as a first priority in 2021 and beyond. Now is the time for him to act on his words and build on his long history of fighting to end the dominance of big money in politics and protecting the right to vote by using the bully pulpit of the President to push these reforms forward.
As we all tune in for the State of the Union, we in the Blue Wave Postcard Movement hope that President Biden will make his commitment to transforming our democracy clear. During this unprecedented time, the American people deserve to know that the Biden administration will make the For the People Act a priority.
People voted in record numbers for a president who believes our democracy works best when every vote is counted and every voice is heard. We now have an opportunity to realize the true promise of democracy—a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
President Biden, it's time to move our country forward to live up to its democratic ideals.
If you’d like to help reform democracy and make real change in our country, join our HR1/S1 postcard movement today. Order your postcard kits now to help generate direct actions by constituents.(This article was formed in conjunction with the Declaration for American Democracy's efforts to help pass H.R.1/S.1, For the People Act.)