The Whole Enchilada

The following piece, “The Whole Enchilada,” was written by Focus On Democracy’s George Ripley on the eve of the Democracy Spring march from Philadelphia to Washington, DC in April 2016. It was the first post on the Focus On Democracy website.

The Whole Enchilada…

Those of us on this march, and millions more throughout the country, are building a ‘mass movement’ for electoral reform because we know that our democracy is broken from stem to stern and that we will never get the world we envision if our democracy is not functional and trustworthy.

The focal point of much of our organizing in recent years has been to fix the problems created by big money in politics and Citizen’s United.  That issue has generated a great deal of support and a movement focused upon that issue has developed great strength. ‘Voter suppression’ has also been a successful organizing issue.

The purpose of this entry is to open our movement building efforts to the necessity of including the complete spectrum of electoral reforms. Big money in politics and voter suppression are only two of those issues. While we still have the focused energy of a large electoral reform movement let’s be sure to sustain it until we have really finished the job of fixing our democracy.   If we only fix the problems created by Citizen’s United, if we only do that and don’t fix the rest of the problems, – like gerrymandering, blackbox voting, ballot access, ballot initiatives, making Voting Day a National holiday, giving ex-felons the right to vote, etc., etc.  – then we will still have a broken democracy but we will have lost the civic momentum to fix all the many problems with our democracy. Let’s fix everything in one big Omnibus Bill, the Whole Enchilada.

This will take a period of time because the movement must take the time to coalesce across the broad spectrum of issues, big and small. We must identify, and agree upon, best practices.  This process should include big conferences, and speakers trained for meetings around the country.  As a result of these meetings our movement can develop and push forward into the mainstream media maelstrom, a unified, national platform of electoral reforms and demands.  Once ‘WE’ have created that platform through public discussions,  including all the issues big and small, we can engage the entire nation in an informed, lengthy discussion about “The State of Our Democracy,” issue by issue.

We all know our democracy is broken. It is not enough just to fix a part of it.

Finally, We recognize that those who oppose democracy will continue, inexorably, to chisel away and undermine the laws that strengthen the power of the people.  Thus, we must establish a law by which we, as a nation, can engage every 12 years in a national analysis of “The State of Our Democracy”.  Every 3rd presidential election we should look at weaknesses and best practices that have developed in the system and in each case we should pass an omnibus bill to correct the problems, or inadequacies, as they have arisen during each intervening 12 year period.

I call upon the major electoral reform groups to begin to coalesce around best practices, issue by issue, and to host large public conventions with the purpose of creating a large, informed and motivated broad spectrum public movement.

Properly done, we can sustain the energy of the Bernie Sanders movement (and its precedents from OWS on back) and finally begin the process of living up to our proudest birthright as Americans, – as standard bearers of an honest democracy…

Properly done, we should have the support of the entire nation and we can begin to create the world we want.

Thank you,

George Ripley

-April 2, 2016, from the opening day of Democracy Spring