Why are we building a new party in California?
Repova’s experience spans across various sectors including finance, tech, media and politics. She is currently the California State Lead of the Forward Alliance and host of the Think with Lucie podcast.
According to the latest PPIC survey, fewer than half of Californians are satisfied with the way democracy is working in the United States. I am one of them. Our political system has significantly deviated from the vision of our founding fathers who advocated for a representative form of government that empowered the people to decide their representation through free and fair elections. Instead of serving the people, our elected officials are serving themselves, their political party and special interests.
We cannot force people to be selfless, but we can change the incentives that guide our political decision making, shifting power from party and special interest leadership to the general public. In order to repair our democracy, we need a new kind of party that will address the issues at its core through a set of electoral, legislative and campaign finance reforms. I understand these changes may seem less exciting to most people than healthcare or education reforms, but I can assure you that the former is required to implement the latter. In other words, once we fix the political system and remove the excessive influence of special interests, the solutions we’ve all been waiting for can finally become reality.
You may be asking what this new kind of party we are building looks like, how it is different from the existing ones and what our agenda is. So let me explain in the next few paragraphs.
The Common Sense Party was founded in 2019 by Tom Campbell, a former U.S. congressman. In January of this year, we joined forces with the Forward Party, a nationwide movement that aims to get on the ballot in 12 states by 2024. Since California is one of the battleground states, it made sense to work together through our shared commitment to democracy reforms and bipartisan collaboration.
The way we are led and organized distinguishes us from the rest. We believe the diversity and size of our state and country requires a bottoms-up leadership approach where every local community chooses the policies that suit them best. Not top-down, dictatorial rule where a select few leaders of a political party decide the fate of the majority. But instead, a small group of local leaders who understand their communities and who are able to choose what problems they want to address and how to solve them in the most effective way.
Additionally, each state leadership within the Forward Party alliance determines their priorities for each election season, emphasizing a holistic approach to their state’s needs. The national team determines shared values that guide every leader within the organization regardless of location or position, and the system reforms that will create opportunities for our candidates to succeed.
Specific to California, becoming a new party will give our independent-thinking candidates the necessary financial leverage needed to get on a level-playing field with the duopoly. Current campaign finance laws limit the amount individuals can donate to independent candidates, giving candidates in an official party an overwhelming nine-to-one advantage. We are aiming to leverage party status, not only to support our own candidates, but to endorse other like-minded ones, too. We see democracy as a win-win, not a zero sum game. We want to collaborate and unite, not fight and divide. We endorse independent-thinking candidates who represent their constituents, not the leadership of a party or special interests.
Once we have candidates in office, we fully trust them to address the issues of their community; asking that they adopt our values and work with us to change the system from within.
Improving our voting system to give voters more choice is a priority for California. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an example of a system that can help moderate candidates advance in primaries and allow voters to select their favorite one without wasting their vote. This voting method will also encourage the candidate pool to appeal to a large base of voters, hence promoting positive campaigning and collaboration. Contrary to popular belief, the voting reforms we propose result in significant cost savings as they eliminate the need for run-offs or second rounds and allow a jurisdiction to get the advantage of two rounds of voting in a single election. The removal of the second round increases turnout and leads to a more diverse voter base.
Electoral reforms need to be complemented by campaign finance reforms to improve the chances of candidates who are devoted to serving their constituents and who reject support from special interests, and to give voice to everyday Americans. We believe that there is no one-size fits all and that different states will require different variations of public financing reform. One such system, called democracy vouchers, that has proved to work in various cities across the country, enables the government to give every city resident vouchers which they can donate to candidates of their choice. Candidates can opt in the program by consenting to certain rules like disclosure requirements or public debates. In Seattle, the democracy vouchers program has increased citizen participation, diversified donor class, and helped new candidates run for office.
None of this will be possible without the support of the people. 68 percent of Californians want a third party, and we are building it. Together, we can end the Democrat supermajority that has ruled over California for decades and create a more prosperous state that people thrive in. The future is in our hands and it is up to us to create the communities we want to live in.
We’re looking for volunteers who can help us achieve our voter registration goal of 73,000 by organizing events, running social media campaigns, spreading the word in their local community and helping with fundraising. If that’s you, please reach out to the lead of your local chapter or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not right. Not left. Forward with Common Sense!