Hedtler-Gaudette is a policy analyst at the Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan group that investigates misconduct and conflicts of interest by federal officials. Dayton is a policy advocate at Protect Democracy, a nonprofit working "to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government."
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The House has voted for the first time to rectify one of the most counterintuitive quirks of American democracy:
People living in the national capital have less of a voice in the national government than all the rest of the nation — consigned to the same second-class status, taxation without representation, which sparked the Revolution that created the country.
Legislation to change that, by making the District of Columbia the 51st state, was approved 232-180 on Friday, the only passage of such a statehood measure by either chamber in the history of Congress.
But the almost purely party-line tally in the Democratic House will be the proposal's symbolically resonant high-water mark, at least for the year. That's because the Republican Senate had made plain it has zero interest in the measure, even before President Trump made explicit this week that he would veto it.
Not all former members of Congress become big-money lobbyists; some even devote new careers to fixing the system they were once part of. Glenn Nye, for example, lasted just one term as the centrist Democratic congressman for the Atlantic coastal communities of Virginia. He lost in the GOP wave of 2010 and advised several technology companies and investment firms before signing on three years ago to run the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, a think tank working to break Washington's gridlock by incubating consensus-focused leaders for the executive and legislative branches. "I learned from the inside how our political system incentivizes dramatic partisanship," he says, and is now "sincerely hoping to be able to leave a better functioning political system than we found." His answers have been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
Incentivizing civility and compromise to fix a deadlocked system.
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Four years after Donald Trump campaigned on "draining the swamp," wealthy special interests wielding power in Washington have only become more pervasive.
Spotlight on the Swamp, a new project launched last week by the bipartisan advocacy group Issue One Action, details how lobbying activity and spending has increased during the Trump administration, the "pay to play" system has persisted and D.C.'s ethical standards have fallen. (Issue One Action is affiliated with Issue One, which is incubating — but has no editorial say in — The Fulcrum.)
With the November election 20 weeks away, and Americans grappling with the compounded crises of Covid-19 and racial injustice, efforts to make the system more equitable and representative for everyone have become even more crucial.
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