Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

True to form, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put a damper on the historic occasion by pledging to kill HR 1. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

True to form, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put a damper on the historic occasion by pledging to kill HR 1. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Anti-Corruption Bill #HR1 Can Fix the US’ Broken Democracy

With democracy reform front and center, voters will have confidence in the sincerity of candidates’ promises, fostering more voter engagement and enthusiasm in the election and beyond

Adam Eichen

 by Eureporter

Recently, the House of Representatives passed the most significant democracy reform bill in generations: The For The People Act (HR 1). This omnibus bill tackles virtually all aspects of our broken democracy—from the corrosive influence of money in politics to out-of-control gerrymandering to widespread voter suppression—with practical, proven-to-work solutions such as public financing of elections, automatic and same-day voter registration, and independent redistricting commissions, writes Adam Eichen, the author of Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want. He is also an Advisor to EqualCitizens.US.

True to form, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put a damper on the historic occasion by pledging to kill HR 1. His rationale was terrifying in a democracy: “Because I get to decide what we vote on,” he explained.

Advocates now face the task of pressuring McConnell to change his mind—an obviously herculean endeavor despite the senator’s early history as a campaign finance reform advocate. But such an effort is worthwhile no matter the outcome, especially if rank-and-file senators are forced to go on record about HR 1. As the New York Times notes, opposition to such a common-sense reform bill could very well have negative electoral consequences.

If major democracy reform is ever to become law in the near future, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates also have to join the fight.

This does not mean reciting platitudes about the rigged system. Our democracy is indeed broken, but the majority of Americans already know this depressing fact. Expounding on the problem without offering solutions will continue to drive Americans into democratic despair. Instead, those who have the bully pulpit—as presidential candidates increasingly do—should use their reach to educate Americans about democracy solutions. Doing so will shift the political landscape towards reform.

Luckily, fixing our democracy, as HR 1 proves, is not rocket science. There are policies—many of which have already worked on the state level—that could be implemented immediately to improve democratic representation. Public financing of elections, for example, has worked extremely well in Maine and Connecticut, and in cities such as New York City and Seattle. Same-day registration, too, has proven effective, greatly increasing voter turnout in states that have adopted it.

Spreading knowledge of solutions will break hopelessness and inspire action—something critically needed, for even if Democrats retake the Senate, HR 1 may remain a pipedream without overwhelming public pressure. The For The People Act is an overhaul of our electoral system, and politicians—even well-meaning ones—are often reticent to change the system from which they have benefited. It will thus take thousands more Americans to advocate for change before HR 1 is signed into law. Public education via presidential candidates is an effective way to build a new, active constituency for reform, and, as a useful side effect, pressure 2020 Senate candidates to support HR 1.

Importantly, presidential campaign educational efforts would also help state-level democracy reformers. Though largely invisible by most media accounts, thousands of Americans are working hard to implement aspects of HR 1 in statehouses across the country. These reformers have achieved major victories, but the biggest hindrance to expanding local and state movements, besides recalcitrant politicians, is little public awareness about the policies being discussed. If presidential candidates could popularize policies such as public financing of elections, benefits would trickle down to these critical fights. Emboldened statewide democracy movements would then intersect and bolster the national movement for reform in a positive feedback loop.

To be clear, candidates would gain from focusing on democracy, too. With democracy reform front and center, voters will have confidence in the sincerity of candidates’ promises, fostering more voter engagement and enthusiasm in the election and beyond. After all, a candidate’s commitment to democracy reform shows seriousness about enacting bold legislation. A climate change prevention plan, for instance, means little unless bolstered with a pledge to break the unfathomably outsized political influence of the polluter industry.

Pressure can and should be directed at Senator McConnell. Right now, he is undoubtedly the biggest single obstacle to comprehensive reform. But a well-rounded presidential platform that prioritizes democracy reform and its intersection with other issues will generate unprecedented momentum for democracy advocates and simultaneously appeal to voters in a crowded primary: a win-win for all.


Adam Eichen

Adam Eichen

Adam Eichen is the Campaigns Manager at Equal Citizens and co-author, with Frances Moore Lappé, of Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want (Beacon Press, 2017). Follow him on Twitter: @AdamEichen

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·


Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·


New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo