Our government, to put it plainly, is not working properly. The public, with the economic scars to show for it, fully understands that our legislators are responding to big money, not their constituents. That’s why citizens voted for radical change in the last Presidential election. This has become even more obvious, as Republicans in the Senate crafted an incredibly unpopular healthcare bill behind closed doors. This failure to protect and improve the general welfare is placing our democracy and our way of life at great risk.
Both the Senate and the House have rules in place that limit the power of the minority party and severely limit transparency. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are able to completely set the agenda of their respective chambers, and in doing so, ensure that they and their fellow Republicans are never forced to address issues they’d prefer to ignore. It is vitally important for all of us, as voters, to know where our elected officials stand on critical issues, but without giving the minority party at least some ability to influence what’s on Congress’ agenda, that’s never going to happen. Giving the minority party the ability to force bills to a vote is important, even if those bills are doomed to failure, because it forces legislators to vote on-the-record on critical issues so that their constituents know how they really stand.
We all recognize that Citizen United has opened the floodgates for big-money influence, but passing a constitutional amendment to nullify this decision is, at best, a long and arduous task. There is another way, one that only requires the vote of a majority of members of a legislative body to change the rules of that body to achieve much of what we need. I propose that anyone running for federal office be asked to sign a pledge supporting these rule reforms upon declaring their candidacy, much like the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promoted by Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. The anti-tax pledge has been incredibly impactful in shaping Republican tax policy, and it is my belief that a similar pledge on transparency will be equally as transformative. The following bipartisan pledge addresses a number of much-needed procedural reforms which, taken together, would force our Representatives and Senators to stop hiding behind the rules and expose their true allegiances to their constituents.
Pledge to Return Control of the Government to our Citizens
I pledge, if elected, to vote in the affirmative:
To change the rules of my chamber in order to increase transparency as follows:
- A Minority is defined to be 40% or more of a body that commits to vote in unison on the issue at hand.
- A Minority of the U.S. Senate, not including the Vice President, is required to vote in the affirmative, on-the-record, to sustain a filibuster.
- A Minority may force the division of a bill that they deem contains disparate parts.
- A Minority has the right to bring one bill per month to the chamber floor. A Minority bill that reaches the floor will not be subject to amendment or delay and have mandatory discussion and on-the-record vote.
Only for election of a majority or minority leader of my legislative body who has also signed this pledge
Signed this _____ day of _____
Candidate for the office of ________________________________________________________