Roadmap to a working Congress

The Democracy Fund is out with a new report this week examining why “Congress is broken,” is a common refrain inside and outside Washington.

Their premise is that Congress “is failing its obligations to the American people,” and public opinion agrees. Approval ratings of the body, according to Gallup, haven’t risen above 20 percent in more than three years. And in case you missed it, hundreds of protesters were arrested clamoring for Congress to address the influence of money in politics.

With the rise of the Internet and communications platforms including e-mail, Twitter and Facebook, the general public has more ways to talk to Congress than any other time in history. That does not, however, mean Congress is listening. According to the report:

“Reduced resources have made Congress more vulnerable to outside interest’ influence.”

In short: when there are too many voices clamoring for attention, and not enough time or staff to listen to all of them, the most influential (read: largest checkbooks or most politically connected) receive attention instead.

This map, however, is about solutions, and that is where Issue One’s 130-strong and growing ReFormers Caucus aligns with the findings of Democracy Fund analysis.

The report highlights, for example, that many members of Congress are still public servants at heart who ran for office to leave their children and future generations a better and more-functional democracy. Our ReFormers agree and that is why they joined us to support fixing a broken campaign finance system after they left office. They believe their work is not done.

Additionally, “The cost of running for office has risen exponentially…the need to raise campaign funds ripples across the congressional system.”

Issue One maintains that Congress is no longer free to lead. They spend as many as thirty-hours a week raising money and increasingly speak with only the wealthiest Americans. Coupled with with tighter budgets and high staff turnover, our campaign finance system has reached a crisis.

Lucky for the American people, a number of solutions exist in on Capitol Hill right now that would get at the root of “hard money” fundraising by Congress. They would supercharge the power of small donors, ensure transparency and enforcement of the rule of law for our elections, and get lawmakers back to work.

Read the full report Congress & Public Trust by the Democracy Fund.