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Democracy Protection Act | The Nation

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Democracy Protection Act

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Rule of Law

About the Author

Mark Green
Mark Green is the former Public Advocate for New York City and author/editor of a couple dozen books, including Who...

Also by the Author

We all know the damage done by corporate money in politics. On January 19, we have the opportunity to do something about it.

Following the values of progressive patriotism, here's an ambitious agenda for the forty-fourth president's first--and second--terms.

1. Create oversight of presidential signing statements. Establish rules limiting the power of these "statements" to become unilateral declarations of law.

2. End torture, not habeas corpus. Overturn the recent Military Commissions Act.

3. Stop workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Bar discrimination against gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual workers.

4. Establish a civil right to counsel. Provide counsel to the indigent in major civil cases just as it's provided in criminal cases under Gideon v. Wainwright.

Democratizing Congress

5. Tighten lobbying laws. Enact bans on lobbyists' meals, travel and bundling of gifts, and create an independent Congressional Public Integrity Office to investigate transgressions.

6. Enact "democracy funding" of campaigns. Establish a federal system of public matching funds for qualifying candidates so that small donors diminish the sway of big interests.

7. Guarantee free airtime for qualifying candidates. Require broadcasters to provide TV and radio time for qualifying federal candidates as a condition of holding lucrative Federal Communications Commission licenses.

Expanding the Franchise

8. Enact Election Day registration. Make it easier to vote by keeping voter registration open until and on Election Day--and merge Veterans Day and Election Day to create a national voting holiday called "Democracy Day."

9. Enforce national voting standards. Create national standards to assure a more professional, trained, nonpartisan staff to implement Election Day. Allow voting by mail for two weeks before the election.

10 Criminalize voter intimidation. Make it a felony to knowingly try to stop others from voting.

11. Make electronic voting secure. Use electronic voting machines with paper trails to deter and detect fraud.

12. Restore the vote to ex-felons. Enfranchise ex-offenders who have paid their debt to society.

13. Insure responsible redistricting. Establish a nonpartisan system in which former judges draw the legislative boundaries.

14. Elect Presidents by national vote. Organize states that together comprise a majority of the Electoral College to commit their electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Transparent Government

15. Strengthen the Freedom of Information Act. Establish a presumption that all federal agencies release information reasonably requested under the act. There should be a "right to know," not the requirement to prove a "need to know."

16. Reduce media concentration. Enact cross-media ownership rules prohibiting one corporate owner from largely monopolizing print and electronic news in a given population area.

Economic Justice

17. Create a living wage. Raise the minimum wage to a living wage indexed to inflation and reviewed biennially.

18. Tax all income equally and eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax. Adjust the tax code to treat labor and capital comparably and end this tax on the middle class.

19. Review corporate compensation. Mandate that only independent directors on a corporate board can vote for increases in executive pay and subject these to shareholder approval.

20. Expand the right to organize at work. Allow employees to form a union if a majority signs recognition cards, and impose penalties on employers who use intimidation and firings to discourage organizing.

For all forty proposals of the "Democracy Protection Act," plus detailed explanations, go to www.newdemocracyproject.org.

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