One of the most conservative members of Congress, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the most liberal, have demonstrated their willingness to
One of the most conservative members of Congress, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the most liberal, have demonstrated their willingness to put country over party and pass anti-corruption reform — and they’re not alone.
On Aug. 21, Warren introduced the tough, comprehensive Anti-Corruption And Public Integrity Act. In a surprising turn, Sasse told NBC on Sept. 9 that he “might well see eye-to-eye” with Warren on ethics reform, and that they “should talk more.”
Then, four days later, Sasse proved he was serious by releasing a series of legitimate bills to “drain the swamp once and for all.”
House Democrats seized on the issue last spring by announcing a package of anti-corruption proposals that Rep. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., enlarged and formalized in June. This month they said they will make passing anti-corruption laws their top priority after the midterm elections.
Their focus will be Sarbanes’ bill, which includes even stronger provisions than Warren’s to combat the corrupting influence of money in Washington.
Voters in both parties agree DC’s a swamp
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., were even further ahead of the curve. They were onstage together for a “Reform Across the Aisle” panel at the Unrig the System Summit in New Orleans in February.
Their shared commitment to reforms demonstrated that, even in these times of increased political polarization, there is room for dialogue that goes beyond partisanship to find common ground on solutions.
It is encouraging to see Republicans and Democrats putting specific drain-the-swamp solutions on the table as real legislation. American voters have been demanding action for too long.
Finally, anti-corruption is on the agenda instead of just being a topic for grandstanding and campaign promises.
Voters have demanded that politicians fight corruption, and it is working.
Americans say corruption in Washington is the “most important” topic for 2018 candidates to discuss, according to a Kaiser Health poll. That is not a surprise, given how well the issue worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who regularly slammed the “corrupt campaign finance system” in his presidential bid.
And Sanders does not have a monopoly on the issue. President Donald Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” in Washington, D.C. It was a winning message, and a Rasmussen poll this month found 71 percent of likely voters still agree with it.
So, what’s it going to take to move these campaign-year promises into actual law? Throughout American history, fundamental change has been driven by the states. Twenty-seven states passed laws giving women the right to vote before it passed federally. Thirty-four legalized interracial marriage before it became federal law. The list of examples goes on, and the takeaway is clear: passing state laws is an essential catalyst to winning sweeping federal reform on fundamental issues.
State momentum building for ethics reform
At my organization, RepresentUs, we’re thrilled to see Washington politicians finally prioritizing anti-corruption, and we’re building the state-based momentum needed to push them to action. The growing movement to unrig the system has brought conservatives and progressives together to deliver nine major wins already in 2018, and voters will have the chance to vote on more than two dozen reform ballot measures on Nov. 6. We unveiled the American Anti-Corruption Act in 2012 and it has inspired more than 80 state and local reform wins.
There is tremendous grassroots power in the anti-corruption movement — enough to tip the scales on national reform, if politicians are willing to put country over party and work with the American people
The American people deserve much better than a system that has been rigged by special interests and lobbyists. We want a government that works for regular people and their families, not just a handful of billionaires and political elites.
Dan Krassner is the political director for RepresentUs, the nation’s largest nonpartisan anti-corruption group. Follow him on Twitter: @DanKrassner