Democracy = National Security

America is only as strong on the global stage as we are at home. Yet, our country’s national security is increasingly paralyzed by dysfunction.

At a time when the dark forces of terrorism and authoritarianism are casting longer and longer shadows across the globe, America needs to be an unblinking beacon of democracy now more than ever. There are many factors driving paralysis in our democracy, and the dominance of money in both politics and policymaking is among the most alarming. If America is going to continue being that famous shining city upon a hill, we must first put our own house in order.

  • Too much fundraising, too little defense policy expertise: A recent poll found that half of Americans had little or no confidence in Congress to protect U.S. national security. One reason Congress may seem so ill-prepared is that far too many lawmakers spend too much time raising money for their reelection campaigns and their political parties.
  • Undue influence of special interest lobbies: Moneyed interests too often push Congress to spend taxpayer money on weapon systems that are not the best choices for the national defense — and sometimes not even desired by the Pentagon.
  • Combatting foreign influence: Democrats, Republicans and independents agree that American voters should decide American elections. This unites people across the political spectrum, as the public knows foreign agents have no allegiance to any particular U.S. political party and could work to hinder both Democratic and Republican candidates.

Why it matters 

“Strengthening our democracy strengthens our national security.”

Chuck Hagel‎, former secretary of Defense, senator (R-NE) and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

“Our nation’s political dysfunction sends mixed signals to the world about our power and intentions on the global stage. Our absence creates a vacuum that others — such as Russia, China and Iran — are all too willing to fill.”

Retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Jones, former national security adviser, NATO supreme allied commander and Marine Corps commandant

“Protecting our free and fair elections from foreign meddling is central to preserving our democracy. Republicans and Democrats need to seize opportunities to work together to combat these continuing threats as urgent matters of national security.”

Olympia Snowe, former senator (R-ME) and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

“Across the globe, more people live under authoritarian governments than democracies. The United States needs to set an example, but right now we’re not. To do so again we must adopt much-needed reforms to increase the American people’s confidence in government.”  

Porter Goss, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, representative (R-FL) and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

“There are grave and growing dangers threatening America. The United States is ceding power and influence abroad to other countries due to political gridlock and democratic dysfunction at home. This seriously diminishes the way our great nation is viewed internationally, yet together we can demand change and implement sweeping reforms.”

Tim Roemer, Issue One ReFormers Caucus co-chair, former U.S. ambassador to India and representative (D-IN)

“Time and time again in the Senate, I saw Republicans and Democrats come together to tackle defense issues because they knew doing so was in our national interest. The same is true today of the need to implement political reforms.”

Dick Lugar, former senator (R-IN) and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

“The health of our political system is a national security issue. We must rally citizens from all sides of the political spectrum to strengthen the system that has enabled us to take a position of global leadership.”

Lee Hamilton, former representative (D-IN), vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

“When I served in Congress, I had the privilege of being the first woman on the House Intelligence Committee, so I am well aware of the importance of national security and the time it takes lawmakers to conduct appropriate oversight of our intelligence agencies. I believe the constant need to raise money has left our elected leaders spending more time dialing for dollars than addressing looming national security threats. Enacting meaningful campaign finance reforms will help restore congressional priorities, and give lawmakers back the time they need to craft strong national security policies that protect all of us here at home and support our troops in the field.”

Barbara Kennelly, former representative (D-CT) and member of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus

Learn more

Read Issue One’s case for why democracy = national security.