As we turn the final pages on a tumultuous 2021, all this week The Fulcrum will share a year-end series of guest commentaries from a distinguished group of columnists on the current state of electoral reform and what we may expect in the upcoming year.
Moore is executive director of the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers.
Americans are tired. Yes, we’re tired of the pandemic, but I’m talking about something deeper, structural and core to our nation’s identity. Our collective malaise is rooted in the frustration and dissatisfaction that borders on despair we feel when we hear the words like “politics,” “government” or “vote.” We are tired because we feel like things are getting worse, our elected officials don’t care, and we are powerless to fix the situation.
Politics, it seems, has an acute sense of irony. Despite the many issues that divide us, it is this profound sense of demoralization on which voters of all parties agree. Regardless of income, education, race, gender, geographic location or party affiliation, an increasing number of voters look upon the American democracy with disappointment. This is not the republic we ordered.
The good news is: Change is coming.
A renewed sense of civic duty, purpose and honest-to-goodness excitement percolates in communities throughout the country. In every state of the union, from the harbors of Maine to the Missourian plains and from sunny California to the Alaskan frontier, American voters (even the tired ones) have declared an end to the business-as-usual, politicians-and-lobbyists-first style of government. In living rooms and Zoom meetings across the country, people are convening around shared goals, making connections with like-minded friends and neighbors, and catalyzing those relationships and their pooled resources into making structural reforms that benefit our democracy as a whole.
Four years ago, the National Association of Nonpartisan Reformers was born at one such convening. Leaders from several of the most prominent organizations focused on democracy reform gathered together in good faith with a shared vision and recognition of what was happening throughout the country. We believe that a more fair and competitive election system will not only strengthen our democracy but will also improve the responsiveness and credibility of the two major parties. We favor a robust competition of numerous political parties and independents and a level playing field on which that can occur.
Today our association has nearly 50 members, including organizations that are leading the way for pro-voter structural reforms like open primaries, ranked-choice voting, approval voting, anti-corruption measures, independent redistricting, and measures to close the loopholes and get money out of politics. We strive to convene the thought-leaders of the democracy reform movement, connect our members to one another and the resources they need to do their work more effectively and efficiently, and enable our members to catalyze their effort into positive, meaningful change for their communities.
As we move into 2022, we are launching new initiatives to promote these goals among our members. “Reformers Unite!” is a monthly education and networking series to help connect organizations and campaigns on common issues and in geographic regions. “Reformers Lead” is a masterclass series designed for executives and organizational leaders interested in honing their leadership skills. We are also refreshing our dues structure to ensure more organizations can join and benefit from membership in our association.
Why this is important: America can’t afford to be on autopilot; it demands our attention and our focus. The democracy of the United States has been a model for the rest of the world because of the diligent men and women who have shepherded it through history with grace, grit and persistence. I encourage you to become a member of NANR and join the family of democracy reformers your grandchildren will read about in their history books.
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