This article was written by Shawn M. Griffiths of IVN, a fellow Bridge Alliance member. Reposted from IVN.us
Now is a pivotal moment for the millions of Americans who recognize that there is something terribly wrong with our government. That is why a coalition of over 80 civic action groups, called the Bridge Alliance, is kicking off its educational campaign #HealthyGov.
It’s no secret that Americans want change. A plurality of Americans no longer wish to identify with the establishment parties in the US. Even more Americans think a third party is needed. Congressional approval barely escapes the single digits, and many Americans think government dysfunction is the nation’s biggest problem.
There are a myriad of problems that contribute to the broad systemic failures of our government, and in order to mold a government that is both functional and representative of the electorate at large, we need to look at the big picture.
“We have set up a system in which the parties themselves are run by and promote the people who have the capability of raising more money than anybody else, and they do so by peddling to special interests. So the special interests get better treatment than the community as a whole. And, we keep drafting new laws that are sometimes contradictory to existing law to the point that government can no longer function,” says Debilyn Molineaux, co-director of the Bridge Alliance.
“And then we do not have a long enough memory in this civic space, within citizens themselves, to remember what good governance looks like, and what are the right virtues within people we want to represent us.”
A Polluted Political Ecosystem
The Bridge Alliance has brought together a broad coalition of over 80 organizations that work individually and together to transform the US political system so that it is more robust, functions better, and creates equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for everyone.
Molineaux views US politics as an ecosystem, comprised of key layers that provide the foundation for the health and vibrance of the political system at large:
Unfortunately, our political ecosystem is infected at all levels, producing a party-controlled, special interest-driven, unrepresentative governance, which we see at the state and federal levels.
Bridge Alliance is launching #HealthyGov in order to raise awareness of the problems we face, and what its “member” organizations are doing to promote a healthier democratic process and government.
“We spend most of our time focused on what’s wrong with our government and talking about the dysfunction or breakdowns in a critical way. With all that attention on what we DON’T want, we spend little time focused on what’s working and what we DO want. #HealthyGov is about shifting our focus to what we want and taking action to make it so,” says Molineaux.
Individual Threads and the Big Picture
Open Primaries, for instance, focuses on transforming the electoral system so that it gives ALL voters an equal opportunity and voice, specifically in primary elections, which end up deciding the outcome of over 90 percent of elections in the US and are controlled by private political parties in most states.
Since the parties control the rules and decide who can and cannot participate in these taxpayer-funded elections, millions of voters end up having no say in who ends up representing them.
#HealthyGov is about shifting our focus to what we want and taking action to make it so.
Debilyn Molineaux, co-director of the Bridge Alliance
Similarly, Fair Vote advocates for alternative voting systems that get us past the choose one, plurality voting method that leaves a majority of Americans unrepresented — like Instant Runoff Voting (also referred to as Ranked Choice Voting) and multi-member electoral districts.
Represent.us is an anti-corruption organization that focuses on minimizing the influence of special interests over the people and political corruption in government. Americans don’t feel like they are being listened to, while billions are spent by special interest groups and companies to influence legislation.
Take Back Our Republic and Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) both are focused on civic participation. Take Back Our Republic seeks to educate people on the power they have to shape a better functioning and more representative government. PBP wants to empower people to decide how public money is spent.
United America (formerly the Centrist Project), which officially launched Tuesday with a historic national slate of independent candidates, is focused on improving governance by electing a handful of independent candidates in narrowly-divided legislative bodies, like the US Senate, to deny either major party a majority and form an independent caucus that can leverage power to bring both sides to the table.
Each of these organizations have “their own thread or mosaic tile of people doing really good work,” says Debilyn Molineaux. “Together they actually make a really healthy, big picture.”
These organizations might be tackling Issue A or Issue B, but the path forward to finding solutions is looking at a political landscape where Issues A, B, C, all the way to Z exist and are addressed. And that is what the Bridge Alliance is working toward, and why Molineaux says the #HealthyGov campaign is so important.
Stay tuned for future coverage of what Bridge Alliance members are doing to create a #HealthyGov.