It’s Time to Restore Our Democracy - and get Secret Dark Money out of Politics
Click on the screen above to hear me explain why limiting the Congressional campaign season is so important to the integrity of our democracy and our public policy making process.
Dear Mr. Quorum,
Non-stop, 365 day a year congressional campaigns tune out voters, tire out candidates, divert Congress away from doing the people’s business, and waste billions of dollars. The simple fact is that endless campaigning and fundraising are toxic to our democracy and our public policymaking process. When members of Congress go to Washington, they need to set campaigning aside, go to work, and govern.
Moreover, non-stop campaigning has done nothing to boost voter participation. According to the highly respected Pew Research organization, the U.S. has ranked an embarrassing 31st among 34 developed nations in voter turnout over the past few election cycles.
So our Restore Democracy legislation calls for limiting the congressional campaign season to 60 days before a primary or a general election. The measure also prohibits members of Congress and their challengers from raising money while Congress is in session.
In fact, limiting the campaign season is a tried and true fix that developed nations all around the world have employed to boost voter interest in elections and put a stop to 24/7 fundraising by the candidates. For example, Canada’s 2015 elections, the longest in recent history, lasted just 11 weeks. And as the Washington Post reported at the time, even that was too long for many Canadians:
When Canadians look south to our system, it seems confusing. After all, our campaigns last longer than most Canadian governments do. “Strange is not the right word — well, maybe strange is the right word,” said Peter Mansbridge, the chief correspondent for CBC News. “They don’t get how you can be so consumed for so long in the political process of electing instead of the process of governing.”
The Restore Democracy Revolution
By themselves, any of the measures in our Restore Democracy bill would constitute a major boost for our democratic process. Taken together, they are nothing short of revolutionary in scope.
The foundation lies in putting a stop to special interests spending unlimited amounts of secret money to influence government and elections. Our legislation would also put Congress on record supporting small donor-public campaign financing and limiting the campaign season. Moreover, we are calling for full disclosure of all campaign contributions, establishment of national online voter registration and a halt to all voter suppression.
We also call for a return to Congress’s traditional process of Regular Order. Under Regular Order, we compromise and find bipartisan solutions by fully considering every idea and amendment under an open rule – and affording each one an up or down vote. That’s how Congress fixed things, solved problems and got things done for more than 200 years. It’s time to get back to that tried and true method of serving the American people.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
The Endless 17-Year War in Afghanistan is Bleeding America to Death
If there is one Trump campaign promise the American people agree with, it’s putting a stop to endless wars of choice that are costing us so much precious American blood and treasury – and reinvesting those resources in America and our people.
The President’s announcement last week that he will continue to pursue the futile and seemingly endless 17-year war in Afghanistan is deeply disappointing and disturbing. His speech sounded eerily like Presidents Johnson and Nixon in the 1960’s, determined to stay in Vietnam and wage a war every bit as unwinnable as the one in Afghanistan. And sadly, the result will be the same in the end.
If there is one Trump campaign promise the American people agree with, it’s putting a stop to endless wars of choice that are costing us so much precious American blood and treasury – and reinvesting those resources in America and our people. The simple fact is that this conflict in Afghanistan has become America’s longest war. It is bleeding us to death, and the Chinese and the Russians are laughing at our costly and tragic folly. Our brave and patriotic troops deserve better than to be put in harm’s way to defend one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional governments in the world.
Houston Battles Record Floods
Remembering the terrible floods that hit Duluth in 2012, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Houston and southern Texas as they endure record rainfalls in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The President has already cleared the way for federal disaster assistance to help with what will be a long and costly recovery.
Our Week in Center City
Eighteen federal agencies held a briefing for Minnesota Congressional staff last week in Minneapolis, explaining their mission and pointing out ways we can all work closer together to assist the people we represent. My Constituent Services Director Brynn Sias and Field and Constituent Services Representative Rick Olseen attended the session at the Minneapolis Federal Service Bank.
Our Week in International Falls
The Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans held is annual StandDown in International Falls last week to make a wide variety of legal, health and other services available to local military Veterans. Pictured here are Margaret Kostiuk and Wayne Sampson. At 97 years young, Margaret is a practiced opera singer, and she did a spectacular job singing the National Anthem before the event.
The StandDown featured free haircuts for military Veterans.
Our Week in Duluth
Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans hosted another annual StandDown in Duluth last Friday, where scores of military Veterans could receive a free lunch, haircut, legal advice, surplus supplies and other services.
As Minnesota’s first member of the Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus, I was delighted to meet with these representatives of the Citizens Climate Change Lobby in Duluth to discuss the effects of climate change on public health and our way of life here in the Northland.
Ari Juntunen and Jack Nagorski, two 13-year olds from Esko who were frustrated in their search for summer jobs, wrote to me recently urging some flexibility in the federal child labor laws. We had a good meeting in Duluth to discuss the reasons why these laws are in place. I’m pretty sure these enterprising young guys will be successful in whatever they decide to do in life.
Our Week in Saint Paul
We had a good meeting with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Tom Landwehr (on my right in this picture) and representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in pursuit of a federal grant from the BP oil spill to help fund the proposed National Loon Center project in Cross Lake. Among other environmental projects, the Center will help protect and restore natural habitats for Minnesota loons threatened by invasive zebra mussels and the long term effects of the oil spill.
Coming Up in Minnesota
As Congress' district work period continues, I'll be traveling around Minnesota's 8th District meeting with people from all walks of life, getting advice and counsel to take back to Washington. I get some of my best ideas from the people I am so privileged to represent. So, if you see me in your community, please take a few minutes to stop and chat.
Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Work in a Congressional Office? We’re Looking for Interns in DC and Duluth!
Many thanks to our DC summer interns. Left to right in this photo are Frankie Hanson, Peter Engel, Maya Hermerding and Simon Fruth.
Calling all college students and graduate students here in Minnesota’s 8th District. If you’re interested in public policy issues and would like to help us serve the great people of Central and Northeastern Minnesota, we have internships available in our Washington, D.C. and Duluth offices throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters. Check my website for more details.