On the Issues

Protecting Democracy

One year ago, our country witnessed something that has never been seen in the United States – a sitting President and his followers attempted to disrupt and stop the peaceful transfer of power. Insurrectionists did not like the outcome of the election and they tried to discard the voice of the People.

January 6, 2021 is a day that will forever scar our nation.

While their tyrannical attempt to overthrow our government failed, the continued assault on the very fundamental tenets of American democracy has not ended, and in many ways, it is being accelerated. We must recommit ourselves to maintaining an electoral system where every citizen – Democrat, Republican and Independent – can cast their ballot easily and securely. And every citizen must have confidence that their vote will be counted.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership doesn’t see it that way. They are passing laws in states across the country to decide who gets to vote and who doesn’t. After losing an election, Republican leadership decided that their only chance to win is to institute new obstacles that will make it much harder for them to vote. They have severely restricted voting before, and they are trying to do it again.

Last year, Republican legislators in 48 states introduced at least 389 bills to make it harder to vote. Nineteen states have now enacted 34 new laws that put in place new obstacles to make it harder to vote. This new wave of restrictive voting laws is the most aggressive assault on democracy in over 100 years.

Here in Wisconsin, Republicans in the legislature passed seven election related bills last year that would have erected significant new barriers to voting. Fortunately, Gov. Tony Evers vetoed those bills, but other states aren’t as lucky. Governor Evers has promised to veto any bill that results in new barriers to voting, but having Governor Evers as our lifeline for democracy should not have to happen.

This is a clear and present danger and Congress must act immediately. Nothing short of the future of American democracy is at stake and if elected, I will act immediately.

End the Senate Filibuster

The filibuster is an archaic, Jim Crow-era rule that is stopping legislators from doing what they were elected to do. One of my first priorities will be to vote to abolish the Filibuster. Members of Congress are elected to get things done. Abolishing the filibuster will allow legislators to move an agenda and deliver real results for our constituents.

Voters want real, actionable change. The only way we can follow through on our promises is by passing legislation through Congress, and then letting voters register their approval or disapproval at the ballot box.

Voters are looking for their elected officials to do the things that they said they were going to do. The only way we can truly follow through on those promises is to pass legislation that will deliver real results to voters.

Expand Voting Rights

Protecting voting rights used to be a bipartisan goal. Not long ago, former Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner was a champion for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Today’s Republicans reject this legacy and their attempts to deny the right to vote are undemocratic, un-American, and unpatriotic.

Expanding the right to vote has been a persistent fight since the founding of this country. Every generation has been called on to defend the hard-fought gains achieved by those who came before.

Our generation is now being called to do our part to protect democracy. The time for leadership is now.

The only way to protect voting rights in the future is to pass legislation at the federal level that will override the rash of anti-voter laws passed by Republicans.The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) and the Freedom to Vote Act (FTVA) are two bills that can be passed now to ensure this, and if elected, I will be a yes vote for both.

The VRAA will strengthen protections against racially discriminatory voter suppression and redistricting abuses. The VRAA will restore and update many of the protections against racial discrimination that were included in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The FTVA creates national standards to protect the right to vote and helps end extreme gerrymandering. It will stop partisan efforts to seize control of election administration, and it limits the ability to manipulate outcomes by ensuring all valid votes are counted. It also establishes election certification and gives voters legal remedies if partisan officials refuse to certify results or try to set aside the results of an election.

Republicans are actively blocking this crucial legislation. It’s time to vote out those who are standing in the way of protecting voting rights and who are trying to manipulate voting laws in their favor. We must replace them with leaders who believe in democracy and the constitutional right to vote.

Make it Easier to Vote

Voting should be easy. It’s time to enact Automatic Voter Registration that makes our voter roles more accurate and more secure.

For years, we’ve been constantly fighting back against Republican threats to our democracy. We have seen this happen time and time again and it’s time to ensure that we are protecting voting rights, permanently by amending the Constitution to ensure that no state can restrict or take away the right to vote from any citizen.

End Gerrymandering

Voters should choose their elected officials. Elected officials should not choose their voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court has punted on partisan gerrymandering, saying that Congress must address this issue. Both parties are now engaged in some of the most extreme partisan gerrymandering ever perpetrated on the citizens of the United States. It’s time to pass federal legislation that will ban partisan gerrymandering and establish a federal non-partisan standard for drawing fair maps that will be representative of the diversity in each district. This is the only way to ensure that neither side can continue to resort to these unfair tactics.

Just as important as making sure that we have fair maps is ensuring that people are being counted in their communities. Prison gerrymandering counts people in prison in the communities where the prison is located, not in the community they came from and are likely to go back to. It strips communities of resources and funding that comes along with population counts. The vast majority of people that go to prison are going to get out, this often means that they will be returning to the community they lived in prior to their incarceration. This practice disproportionately affects communities of color and must be ended.

Reform the Electoral Count Act

The Electoral Count Act is a poorly written 19th-century law that establishes a convoluted process for certifying each state’s electoral votes. Around the country, we saw non-elected partisan election officials refusing to certify vote counts and effectively ignoring the will of voters at the request of a President that had clearly lost his reelection. There is a fundamental flaw in a system that allows candidates on the ballot to attempt to influence the certification of the results.

Congress must act to update this law before the 2024 presidential election, clarifying and strengthening the provisions to ensure that ambiguities and weaknesses of the existing law cannot be used to undermine democracy.

Curtailing the Influence of Special Interests

I was the first candidate in this race to take the End Citizens United pledge and reject all corporate PAC money. We have since seen other candidates take that pledge, but it rings hollow when candidates that have taken corporate PAC money in the past now claim to reject it. I am one of the few leading candidates in this race to have never taken corporate PAC money.

We need to do all that we can to give democracy back to the people, and that means reducing the influence of special interest money in politics to ensure that all citizens have an equal say in our democracy.

Voters should have the right to know who is trying to influence their vote. We need to enhance reporting requirements to show voters where campaign funding is coming from. Those who are willing to contribute significant sums of money to influence our elections should also be willing to allow people to know they are doing it.

Strengthening Election Security and Ending Foreign Interference

We must prevent foreign actors from being able to influence or buy our democracy. We saw in 2016, and more recently, how nefarious foreign attempts to undermine confidence in our elections can have disastrous consequences.

Cyber-attacks on our elections are an immediate threat to U.S. national security and cannot be taken lightly. We have seen how vulnerable we are to these cyber-attacks, and it must be an immediate priority of Congress to invest in both the infrastructure and manpower to combat these attacks so that we can secure our election infrastructure at every level of government.

Misinformation online is a threat to our democracy. We need to work with and pressure online platforms to do more to push back against dangerous rhetoric when their sites are being used to manipulate Americans and sow distrust in our elections and our government.

Promoting Democracy Abroad

The United States must be an active champion for democracy worldwide. We should be assisting countries in protecting their democracies and calling out those that are guilty of human rights violations and repressing democracy.

This also means we need to strengthen our democracy at home. The sustained attacks on voting rights and the January 6th insurrection proved how fragile our democracy can be and how domestic and international forces are working to destroy it.

The world looks to the United States and when our democratic institutions falter, it empowers anti-democratic forces around the globe. We must be vigilant in ensuring that our country and the world remains vigilant in the fight for democracy.

Grant Statehood to the District of Columbia and Let Puerto Rico Self Determine

Since the passage of the United States Constitution, the residents of Washington, D.C. have been denied their full citizenship rights that all residents of other states enjoy, including voting representation in Congress.

Residents of the District of Columbia overwhelmingly favor statehood, it is constitutional, and would finally right an historic wrong.

It’s time for the U.S. Citizens in Puerto Rico to have real self-determination. If they choose to become a state, the U.S. should grant Puerto Rico full representation in the U.S. Congress and the electoral college.

Vote Out Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson isn’t just a bad Senator, he is a threat to our democracy. He isn’t only dangerous for Wisconsin, but for the entire country. We cannot allow people like Ron Johnson to be at the table when critical issues that impact the daily lives of so many are at stake.

Ron Johnson is a staunch opponent of voting rights and ensuring access to the ballot. We cannot have someone who believes that only Republicans should decide who gets to vote and administer elections in Congress when voting rights are being discussed. The Democratic Majority in the U.S. Senate, the preservation of the right to vote, and protecting our democracy could very well come down to who wins in Wisconsin.