A plan for democracy that works for working people
In a democracy established by and for the people, far too many of our leaders think the rules don’t apply to them, and they’ve failed to address the critical priorities of working Americans. We must hold our leaders accountable and build a democracy that works for working people.
Elected officials are supposed to listen and be accountable to the voters who elected them. But today, corruption, special interest influence, and polarization have stalled progress on common-sense issues that the vast majority of Americans support; from lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, to investing in local jobs and infrastructure, to tackling climate change and tax fairness. Meanwhile, wealthy corporations and special interests subvert the will of the voters by spending millions in dark money to influence elections and elected officials. And, over the past months, extreme politicians have even tried to overturn fair and secure elections — simply because they didn’t like the results.
In a democracy, we should be able to fix this by making our voices heard at the ballot box and holding our leaders accountable for both their actions and inactions. Sadly, today, that accountability is under attack like never before. Across the country, lawmakers are proposing radical voting rights restrictions, limiting absentee and early voting, and even making it a crime for volunteers to hand out bottles of water to people waiting in line to vote. And even when voters overcome those obstacles, their voices still are often drowned out by politicians who have rigged the system through partisan gerrymandering — literally picking which voters they want to represent, rather than the other way around.
All of these attacks have a common thread: to remove all measures of accountability to the voters and rig the game so they can stay in power.
It’s time to change that.
In Wisconsin, we’ve been on the front lines of this fight. While politicians and lobbyists rigged maps behind closed doors and made Wisconsin one of the most gerrymandered states in the country, Governor Evers and I led the charge for non-partisan reforms, fair maps, and access to the ballot box for every eligible voter. Unwilling to accept the will of the voters, Senator Ron Johnson now wants to bypass the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission and is proposing a full partisan takeover of our federal elections.
Make no mistake, our democracy is on the ballot in 2022, and we need a United States Senator who has a plan to make elected officials accountable to the voters, to stand up to the corrupting influence of dark money, and to ensure the rights of voters are protected across this country.
It’s time to deliver a clear message that America won’t allow those who would undermine our democracy to continue leading it. We must hold our leaders accountable.
It’s not enough to simply stop the attacks on accountability and democracy. We have to build a system that works for everyone and elect leaders who won’t buy into false choices that pit us against one another. It’s time for leadership that will bring us together to fix the system, to hold our leaders accountable, and to build a democracy capable of delivering the opportunities that allow all families to thrive.
As your next United States Senator, I will bring together people from across the partisan divide to:
- Stop big corporations and special interests from buying political influence
- End partisan gerrymandering
- Pass a new voting rights act
- Enhance election security and crack down on foreign interference
- End the Senate’s filibuster
- Protect against election subversion
- Strengthen ethics rules for elected officials
Thank you for reading this plan. If you have feedback on this plan, you can reach me at www.MandelaBarnes.com/democracy to let me know your thoughts.
— Mandela Barnes
Stop Special Interests and Big Money from Influencing our Elections
For far too many politicians, the voters are no longer their number one priority. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, corporate special interests dump millions into Super PACs to influence our elections. Meanwhile, millionaires and billionaires pour money into their own campaign accounts and personal Super PACs, making them answerable to no one. This big money spending shuts out authentic grassroots support, and encourages the election of politicians like Senator Ron Johnson — who then turns around and delivers tax breaks for his wealthiest donors.
That’s unacceptable – it’s time to get corruption and big money and corporate special interests out of politics for good. Mandela Barnes fundamentally believes that leaders are best equipped to stand up for Wisconsin when their support stems from regular, everyday people. That’s why Mandela’s campaign isn’t taking a dime from corporate PACs, and it’s why he won’t self-fund his campaign.
- In the Senate, Mandela will fight for a constitutional amendment that overturns the Citizens United decision and puts political power back in the hands of the people of Wisconsin.
- Mandela will also support legislation like the DISCLOSE Act and Honest Ads Act that will help shine a light on those secretly spending money to influence elections and public policy.
End Partisan Gerrymandering
In a democracy, voters are supposed to pick their politicians. But across our country, all too often politicians are picking their voters. That’s what Republican leaders are trying to do right now in Wisconsin, where they’ve held on to power in the legislature for a decade thanks to rigged partisan maps drawn by politicians and lobbyists behind closed doors.
Now they’re trying to once again lock in their power and avoid facing the voters for another decade with gerrymandered maps that prioritize partisan power over the will of the voters. As Lieutenant Governor, Mandela Barnes has fought back against these partisan attacks and worked with Governor Evers to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission. But Republican leaders haven’t listened to the nonpartisan commission, that’s why we need the federal government to act to depoliticize the map-drawing process.
- In the Senate, Mandela will fight for national redistricting reform guided by the simple principle that voters should pick their elected leaders, not the other way around.
Pass a New Voting Rights Act
The right to vote is sacred. It is the cornerstone upon which all of our other democratic norms and values lie. And while so many extreme politicians want to make it harder to vote for their own gain, Mandela believes that we should make it easier to exercise our fundamental rights in our democracy.
- In the Senate, Mandela will fight to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect the right to vote and crack down on voter suppression efforts.
- Mandela will fight to expand online voter registration and implement automatic and same-day voter registration across the country.
- Mandela will fight to make election day a national holiday, so that every American has an opportunity to cast a ballot, and because elections should be an opportunity to celebrate and reaffirm our fundamental democratic principles.
- Mandela will work to expand opportunities for early-voting, mail-in voting, and expand election infrastructure to cut down on long lines, so that every eligible American can access the ballot box.
Enhance Election Security and Crack Down on Foreign Interference
From Russia to Iran, foreign adversaries have launched campaigns to try to undermine our free and fair elections with cash, influence campaigns, and cyber espionage. Mandela believes we have to step up and defend our elections and democratic process.
- Mandela will work to crack down on foreign disinformation campaigns that destabilize our democracy.
- Mandela is committed to passing comprehensive election security legislation, and removing loopholes that allow foreign corporations to funnel cash into some of our elections.
- In the Senate, Mandela will enhance election cybersecurity to prevent hackers from undermining our elections. He’ll work to ensure that we have mandatory paper ballot backups across the country to make our elections more secure.
End the Filibuster
For our democracy to endure, it must serve all of our best interests. From health care to job creation, from climate change to investing in education, the vast majority of Americans agree on commonsense solutions to some of our nation’s biggest challenges. But standing in the way is the Senate’s filibuster, which is being used as a weapon by the minority to stop popular reforms from passing. The filibuster is why Ron Johnson’s prayers for “gridlock” are answered all too often.
- In the Senate, Mandela will vote to end the filibuster so that we can move forward and deliver for working families in Wisconsin.
Protect Against Election Subversion
At the heart of our democracy is respect. Respect for your neighbor, respect for your community and your country, and respect for the outcomes of our free, fair, and secure elections. We cannot let that fundamental respect break down, and that’s why it’s so concerning that bad actors in our political system refuse to accept and respect the outcome of our elections. Now those extreme elements are going further, threatening election officials, launching expensive and partisan sham audits of election outcomes, and now trying to put in place procedures to overrule election outcomes they don’t agree with. Mandela knows how dangerous and destabilizing election subversion is, and he’ll work to stop it.
- Mandela will stand up to Ron Johnson’s attempts to lead a partisan takeover of Wisconsin’s Federal elections.
- Mandela will work to make it a federal crime for any person to intimidate, coerce, or harass an election worker.
- Mandela will strengthen democratic safeguards so that no person nor party has the power to arbitrarily overrule the outcome of free, fair, and secure elections.
Strengthen Ethics Rules for Elected Officials
Elected officials should be held to the highest standards, but right now, ethics rules essentially condone behavior like insider trading among members of Congress, and the Congress-to-lobbyist pipeline remains as robust as ever. With ethics laws this loose, it’s no wonder questions are being raised about how Senator Ron Johnson doubled his personal wealth during his time in the Senate. In the Senate, Mandela won’t stand for weak ethics and corrupt behavior, and he’ll work to hold himself and his colleagues accountable.
- Mandela will work to ban Members of Congress from owning individual stocks, to prevent insider trading and self-enrichment.
- Mandela will work to stop the revolving door and limit Members of Congress from lobbying their colleagues and serving on corporate boards.
Mandela Barnes has been endorsed by groups that are leading the fight for accountability and voting rights, including End Citizens United, Let America Vote, and Vote from Home.
Thank you for reading my Accountability Agenda. If you have feedback on this plan, please let me know your thoughts here.