Announcing: LegitAction

Found in the inbox from Russ Feingold:

Friend —

Less than two months into a new administration, we are now facing the biggest crisis of legitimacy of our democracy in a generation or more.

That’s why today, I am announcing the formation of a new project to mobilize citizens in restoring the legitimacy of our democracy: LegitAction.

Click here to receive updates from LegitAction and stay involved in the fight to restore legitimacy to our democracy.

Normally, our democracy is considered the most legitimate form of government because the power rests with the people. But when this power dynamic is altered and citizens lose their influence, the legitimacy of the system is threatened.

And that’s what we now face: a system in which money speaks louder than voters, voting is increasingly difficult, and the votes that are cast may not matter because of an archaic system known as the Electoral College.

As a result, we, as citizens, are governed by representatives who do not reflect or respect the values and priorities of the majority, and our democratic legitimacy is in grave danger as a consequence.

The mission of LegitAction will be to work with citizens to understand the political forces and special interests driving this crisis, and to organize civic action to restore our legitimacy. We will respond as a citizenry, as a movement, to the broader threat to our democracy, by taking action from the local level on up. And we will refuse anything less than the restoration of the power of the people — and our democratic legitimacy.

To accomplish this mission, we will focus on four pillars of democratic legitimacy:

First, our democracy is built on the pillar that elections are determined by the voters–not by money. In my recent race for the US Senate, I saw personally how much influence dark-money groups now enjoy, and how normalized their influence over down-ballot elections has become. This era of massive institutional corruption must end, and the only way to end it is by returning elections to the voters with a system that puts power back into their hands. We must overturn Citizens United.

Second, the fundamental right to vote and access to vote must be protected for all. Voter suppression is a cynical political ploy used by those who do not trust or respect voters. Voter-ID requirements may be the latest tactic, but we’ve seen this evil before, in the form of the literacy tests and poll taxes of Jim Crow, which unconstitutionally suppressed the voting rights of African Americans. We must fight back, both by using litigation to overturn voter suppression laws and by working directly with the communities these laws disenfranchise. We cannot allow a new generation of voters to face exclusion from our most sacred right. Similarly, the equal value of votes must be upheld by fighting back against hyper-partisan gerrymandering, which is used to cynically dilute the influence of minority votes.

Third, we must restore the power of the popular vote. Two of the last three presidents have been elected by the Electoral College in defiance of the national popular vote. The Electoral College is a historic relic designed to balance power between slave-owning and non-slave-owning states, and has no role in our modern democracy. The best solution is a constitutional amendment that removes the Electoral College and ensures that the popular vote decides national elections. But states also have the power to at least nullify the Electoral College by joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact; 11 states have already done so and more should join.

Finally, the legitimacy crisis facing our democracy extended to the judicial branch, when, last year, GOP senators decided to abandon their constitutional responsibilities by refusing to grant even a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I have never seen a politics more cynical than this strategy. The severity of this action and the resulting precedent cannot be overstated. This time it was the last year of a president’s term, next it will be the year before midterm elections. It won’t be long before it extends to the whole two-year presidential campaign, amounting to three years of any presidential term where a Supreme Court seat cannot be filled. We cannot allow this precedent to stand, or the legitimacy of the Court will be questioned for a generation.

This is the crisis of our lifetime, and it must be met with a call to action — to restore our democratic legitimacy. As citizens, as voters, we have work to do.

If you’re ready to get to work helping restore our democratic legitimacy, join LegitAction today.

We may not have another national election for four years, but there are nationally relevant laws being debated and issues being addressed right now. What happens in four years depends on what we do today. And nothing less than the legitimacy of our democracy is at stake.

Thanks for all you’re doing — and all you will do — during this crucial time.


Russ [Feingold]


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