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Moms Demand Action along with Clark County School District student activists hold a gun violence protest outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Mandalay Bay was the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history on Oct. 1, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Everything Is Broken: 5 Interventions for the Democratic Party

The only way to resolve this situation is to get money out of politics.

Bob Burnett

The horrific Uvalde massacre, and the Republican non-response, confirms what many of us have thought: the U.S. political process is broken. Not "strained" or "damaged" but rather "rent asunder." America's political process can't be repaired by applying duct tape. It needs reconstructive surgery.

Unfettered capitalism has taken democracy captive. Republicans refuse to allow new gun-control legislation because they've sold out to the pro-gun lobby.

The Uvalde massacre had tragically familiar components: a mentally-ill, socially-isolated gunman who had been bullied; ready access to weapons of mass destruction; targeting of innocents; and a shameful police response. It was a horrific metaphor for the Republican response to the plight of our nation's less fortunate citizens—the "99 percent." The Party of Trump responds to tragedy with "hunker down, snowflake; it's going to get worse." And then dances.

The vast majority of Americans want common-sense gun reform. Republicans block this reform. (Trump's response was: "defund Ukraine; fortify schools.")

Because our political process is broken, we need to take strong measures.

1. Put people before profits. The U.S. political system has been corrupted by big money. Unfettered capitalism has taken democracy captive. Republicans refuse to allow new gun-control legislation because they've sold out to the pro-gun lobby.

In 2022, the United States has two political parties. Democrats, who mostly support democracy (although there are "big-money" interests in the party).  And Republicans, who are the party of unfettered capitalism; the party where "money talks and principle walks."

It's no secret that Republican politicians can be bought.  Consider Sens. Ted Cruz or Ron Johnson or (shudder) Mitch McConnell, among others.  The GOP leader is Donald Trump who has no principles at all, whose credo is "I'll say whatever you pay me to say, for a big check." The Republican Party is for sale to the highest bidder.

The only way to resolve this situation is to get money out of politics. The only way to achieve this objective is for the Democrats to not only hold onto the House and Senate but to add seats. Congress has to pass significant campaign-finance reform and this will only happen if Democrats prevail in November.

2. Expand the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, because of the Trump "presidency," the Federal judiciary is packed with ultra-conservative judges. Therefore, it won't be sufficient to simply pass reform legislation, because it will eventually be blocked in the Supreme Court. (Blocked by the judges that the Republicans bought.) Democrats have to expand the Supreme Court by at least three judges.

3. Protect voting rights. Restrictive voting rights favor Republicans; common-sense voting rights favor Democrats. The GOP attack on equitable access to the ballot favors the one percent at the expense of the 99 percent.

Heading into the November election, it is vital to pass laws to protect election workers, same-day registration, and early voting. It is also necessary to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which directly addresses the state legislatures' electoral power grab.

4. Pass common-sense gun control. The vast majority of Americans want common-sense gun reform. The place to start is with mandatory background checks for gun purchases and a reinstated ban on assault weapons.

5. Pass real economic reform. The first four corrections are essential but not sufficient to repair our broken democracy.  The United States needs real economic reform.  Democracy doesn't work in societies where there is extreme economic inequality. Sadly, that's what has happened to the United States.

The nation's inequality is at a historic high. Compared to our European partners (England, France, and Germany) the US has a much greater gap between the rich and the poor. The ultra-rich—think Elon Musk—have so much more money than most Americans that they are buffered from economic turmoil. During the pandemic, rich Americans got richer and everyone else got poorer.

Republicans, the Capitalist Party, seek to increase the power of the one percent. If you ask Republicans why they supported Donald Trump, they will typically respond: "I don't like him personally but he did a lot of good things." By "a lot of good things" Republicans mean: Trump helped McConnell pack the judiciary with conservative judges and Trump signed tax reform that massively favors the interests of the "one percent" and corporations. Trump didn't do very much as "president" but what he did do favored the interests of the rich.  This needs to be reversed. Democrats should sponsor concrete actions to secure a more equitable society.

Summary: To repair our broken political process, we need to do two things.

First, get out the vote in November.  It's imperative that Democrats retain control of Congress.

Second, we must improve our messaging. Democrats should say, "We put people over profits. We represent the 99 percent not the richest one percent."

Democrats should also say clearly: "Republicans have sold out to the rich. Republicans have sold out to big oil. Republicans have sold out to the NRA. Republicans have sold out to white male supremacists." 

It needs to be made clear: "Democrats are the Party of the people. Republicans are the Party of the dollar."

This moment requires direct action. "Thoughts are prayers" are woefully insufficient.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Bob Burnett

Bob Burnett

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley Quaker, activist, and writer. In another life he was a Silicon Valley executive — co-founder of Cisco Systems.

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