Nine years ago, when he announced his run for president on the steps of the Illinois state capitol in Springfield, Barack Obama declared that “the ways of Washington must change.”
But in addition to the gridlock and rancor in Washington, the American political system has gotten much worse since Obama was elected, through no fault of his own.
The Supreme Court allowed unlimited secret campaign contributions and gutted the Voting Rights Act. Twenty-one states passed new voting restrictions targeting the core of Obama’s political coalition. Gerrymandering reached new lows following the 2010 election.
Returning to Springfield to address the Illinois legislature yesterday, Obama offered three ideas for how to repair America’s broken political system.
1. Reduce the corrosive influence of money in politics.
“I don’t believe that money is speech or that political spending should have no limits,” Obama said, in contrast to the Citizens United decision. He noted that 150 families have spent as much on the presidential race as the rest of the country combined. He said he supported a constitutional amendment “to set reasonable limits on financial influence in American elections,” and called for more modest immediate reforms
2. Change the way congressional districts are drawn.