Campaign Legal Center Celebrates Diversity Month
A diverse democracy is a strong democracy.
This Diversity Month, CLC recommits itself to fighting for Americans of every race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, economic status and political affiliation to participate in and affect the political process.
While we should explore every avenue to achieve the ideal of a diverse, equitable and inclusive democracy, there are two policies that are proven to protect and expand access to democracy for all Americans: state Voting Rights Acts (state VRAs) and public financing initiatives.
State VRAs build on the legal protections offered by the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (federal VRA), which was enacted as the direct result of civil rights activism seeking to dismantle the Jim Crow laws that denied Black Americans the freedom to vote.
Over the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has chipped away at key pieces of the federal VRA which has led to a proliferation of discriminatory anti-voter laws that target Black, Latino, Asian and Native voters and other voters of color.
The evisceration of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act has also allowed self-interested politicians to manipulate voting maps to silence communities of color. State VRAs are an important tool to protect and center those communities and can go above and beyond the federal VRA to ensure every voice is heard and every vote counts equally.
We must also ensure elected officials are responsive to and representative of the interests of all their constituents, not just a handful of wealthy donors.
For too long, wealthy donors and special interests have been able to control who has the means to run for office. While there are more women and people of color serving in Congress than ever before, we still have a long way to go before our government is as diverse as the American electorate. In races for the U.S. House of Representatives, for example, women of color raise less on average than all other candidates. While women of color make up 25% of the U.S. population, they make up only 4% of U.S. House candidates.
Public financing initiatives that provide vouchers or match small-dollar campaign contributions make it possible for a more diverse pool of candidates to run for office and increase candidates’ engagement with a broader, more diverse pool of constituents, all of which leads to a healthier and more inclusive democracy.
The freedom to vote and the doors to public office should be accessible to every American. If our government is to truly be of, by and for the people, it must be reflective of the people. At Campaign Legal Center, we value a diverse democracy that’s open to all.