Beyond impeachment — restoring our democracy

Lisa Gilbert

With the Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump, the impeachment saga will end. What next?

It’s likely we will hear recriminations and accusations, see finger-pointing and even name calling. More evidence related to the president’s phone call with the Ukrainian president may surface as court cases unfold, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman go to trial, and we finally see John Bolton’s book.

Any additional information should be shared with voters as they move forward to make decisions in this next and pivotal election. But we also must look forward and use the events of the past year to strengthen our democracy. We can enact long-lasting reforms that will help guard against future abuse of power and election interference by any president, no matter to which party he or she is affiliated.

A healthy democracy keeps our leaders and government accountable to the people. We know from polls that such a government is exactly what people want. They are tired of the tumult, the lies and the political ground shifting beneath their feet every day.

We should use this opportunity to step back and enact ways to prevent future corruption of our government. We should advance bold, comprehensive reforms to fix our political system.

We did it after Watergate: In reaction to the crimes committed by Richard Nixon associates, Congress in 1974 forged a comprehensive system of campaign finance regulation and enforcement, including the creation of the Federal Election Commission.

Such sweeping reform can be enacted again. We should not just stem the kind of blatant corruption that Trump engaged, but to go far beyond it to secure the kind of democracy that was envisioned by the Founders and in some ways we have yet to realize.

We’re already halfway there. The House of Representatives in March 2019 passed the For the People Act. Passage was followed closely by introduction and support in the Senate, before the bill stalled on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. The For the People Act is a bold, comprehensive set of anti-corruption, election security and political reforms that directly respond to the issues raised in the impeachment inquiry. The For the People Act would make sure our elected officials work for us, rather than using our government to further their own personal interests.

The For the People Act has three critical components: (1) shifting power from big money and corporate lobbyists to voters; (2) protecting and expanding the right to vote; and (3) restoring ethics and accountability.

The measure would bring dark money into the light, give small-dollar donors a bigger say in our elections, tighten rules on super PACs and make the Federal Election Commission work again. It would enhance federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, as well as increase oversight of election systems vendors and require the development of a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions.

The For the People Act would ban contributions and expenditures from corporations with significant foreign ownership or control. It would direct digital platforms to implement measures to prevent foreign nationals from directly or indirectly purchasing political ads and would restructure the FEC to have five commissioners, to break gridlock.

And it would create an investigatory and enforcement unit in the Department of Justice to help keep foreign money out of our elections, as the law requires.

The For the People Act passed the House of Representatives in March 2019 by an overwhelming majority. It has been stalled in the U.S. Senate ever since, despite being supported by 47 senators and a strong majority of the American public.

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans oppose the bold reforms demanded by the overwhelming majority of their constituents, they should have the courage to stand up and take a vote.

No more games, no more excuses, and no more delays. Our democracy works best when everyone can participate fully.

After the last few years of indictments, abuses of power, obstruction of Congress and more, voters deserve no less.

Lisa Gilbert is vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. She wrote this for

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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(3) comments


The Democrats might have a chance of delivering on this if they can hold their coalition of selfish interest groups together around a unified vision. The Republicans never will because they are fighting a desperate battle for survival and cheating by any means is the only chance they have. I think a lot of the unreason we see on the left will go away once everybody sees that they are living in a democracy and they can have a piece of a better world if we can just pull it off. The unreason on the right will never go away because that's what the right is all about.


What world are you living in lol? Desperate battle for survival? Trumps numbers are really good. The Democratic party became unraveled (again) in Iowa. Bernie hates everyone, Biden hates Bernie and is a sexist pig, Mayor Pete seems like a good guy (he messed up with his comments on the killing a national terrorist big time) and all of rivals are teaming up against him. she still running lol?

Dude, this is exactly why the not only are the Democrats in trouble again nationally but watch out..the house could be back in play for the Republicans again unless their is a unification of the party and a platform reasonable enough to win a vote. I like Amy Klobucher a lot...but I would imagine she isn't the preferred choice of the DNC and we all know what happens when that is the case..

hermit thrush

fact check: trump's numbers are not really good. he is, in fact, the most consistently unpopular president since the advent of modern polling.

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