Defending Our Democracy

Our democratic institutions are being eroded, and the root cause is money in politics. Lawmakers (and candidates for office) spend at least several hours every single day speaking with their wealthiest campaign donors rather than their ordinary constituents, learning about policy, or actually working with one another to get things done. Legislation is written by lobbyists and most elections are decided by who has the most ultra-wealthy donors. This is why issues of such critical importance to working and middle class people – from healthcare and childcare costs to student loan debt relief – don’t get addressed, while corporate loopholes are always on the fast track. This Big Money politics is destroying the public’s faith in our democratic institutions, in civic engagement, and in public service. It doesn’t have to be this way. Historic campaigns in 2016 and 2017 have pointed the way for candidates to win on the strength of grassroots fundraising and getting their message out without the corrupting influence of Big Money politics.

At the same time, the 2016 election also illustrated the ability for a foreign actor – Russia – to influence our elections and the subsequent Presidency of Donald Trump has been one of the most damaging for our institutions and for our civil society in the history of this country. As a middle class working mom, Russian-speaking lawyer, former intelligence analyst and transgender woman, I am ready to stand up to Big Money politics, President Trump, and the Russian government. Of all the candidates in this race, I am the best possible check on President Trump and his abuses of power. Let’s defend our democracy together, and take our country back for ordinary people.

My initial proposals:

I will introduce legislation to overturn Citizen’s United, to end all PACs, SuperPACs, and corporate contributions to elections: The Supreme Court wrongly decided this case, and Congress needs to overturn it with calibrated legislation. I will support an expanded version of the DISCLOSE Act and a Constitutional amendment to overturn this decision and return political power from special interest groups to the people.

Publicly-funded elections, as is the norm in most highly-developed democracies: This goal will not just significantly reduce corruption in politics but will make our politics much more effective. Representatives and leaders with the best ideas, not those who happen to have developed or inherited the best wealthy donor connections, will improve and transform our politics.  We will also open up our politics for underrepresented groups beyond the wealthy white men who currently dominate government-- working and middle-class people, women, people of color, people living with disabilities, and LGBT people, all of whom who do not see themselves reflected in our government.

I will introduce legislation to end the gerrymandering of Congressional districts: Under Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution, “Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations” relating to “the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.” Congress should use that power to mandate every state to redistrict congressional districts via nonpartisan commissions.

I will vote for the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore lost Voting Rights Act protections.

Incentivize states to implement automatic voter registration nationwide, and the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons who have served their time.

Support federal employees: This Administration’s animus for public service and federal employees in the civil service is unprecedented in recent American history. This constitutes an ideological attack on the effectiveness of government. I will stand with federal whistleblowers, support public employee unions, protect federal personnel benefits and fight for appropriate pay increases for federal employees.

I will seek to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where I will be relentless in my support of full investigations into Russia’s interference in our 2016 election: I served 13 years in the Intelligence Community, including in a role where I had access to the President’s Daily Brief and other sensitive reporting. I will provide badly needed expertise among lawmakers to properly complete the investigations into Russia’s interference in our elections, and to safeguard the Intelligence Community from intimidation or politicization by President Trump and his Administration.

Protect voting machines from hacking and interference with the Secure Elections Act: We need to invest in the modernization of our election infrastructure and hardening it against cyber attack, and this $384 million package of grants would do exactly that. I would amend and improve the Act to include the purchasing of new electronic machines that produce a paper trail for auditing.

I will vote to restore Net Neutrality: Absent earlier action from Congress or the courts, I will vote to ban blocking, throttling, “fast lanes”, and to restore common carrier regulations on Internet Service Providers. This is not just a consumer protection issue--an open, free internet is vital for our democracy and the freedom of speech and assembly.