The For the People Act will expand and protect the right to vote and get big money out of politics.
Young people don’t have a lot of political power. The average working-class young person doesn’t have much money to spare towards grossly expensive political campaigns. Due to this, most campaigns involve politicians and corporations that do not invest in us as a generation and we are systemically kept away from the polls. In response, the political energy of the youth has manifested in Students for Bernie, YDSA, and Un-PAC, which is putting pressure to pass the For the People Act.
The For the People Act is a list of things that any country that calls itself a democracy should already have, but of course America, does not. Everything in it falls into one of three categories: expanding the electorate, protecting the right to vote specifically for marginalized communities, and getting big money out of politics. To win this, we will need every single student and young person who agrees corruption is bad, democracy is good, and this government does not represent me, to organize for it.
The For the People Act will also increase polling locations on college campuses, communities of color, and indigenous reservations. It also makes voting more accessible by enacting same-day automatic voter registration in all 50 states as well as online voter registration and allowing anyone to vote by mail. The act will overturn Citizens United and end gerrymandering in all 50 states and introduce public financing of elections without using taxpayer dollars. This will break the stranglehold that the millionaires and the billionaires have over our government. Those two things alone would help us build and maintain political power as a generation and a class more than any other piece of legislation that we have seen in our lifetime.
This act is consequential in many ways, but it has little hope of becoming a reality unless the filibuster is abolished. One of the ways that our Congress is broken and very undemocratic right now is that you cannot pass things through the Senate with a simple majority because of the filibuster. Thanks to the filibuster, any Senator can basically debate or go onto the floor and present an argument to the Senate for an unlimited amount of time and the only way that the Senate can vote on the legislation is when the debate has ended. Due to this, Senators can go onto the floor and debate forever, and the fact that the debate needs to officially end for legislation to pass means that the filibuster is often used to block legislation. You don’t even have to show up to cause a filibuster! Simply by sending a protest to the chair, one can hold up a bill.
To make things worse, this hasn’t always been the case. The filibuster was not part of the Constitution but it has been used throughout the decades, especially in the early 1900s, to block civil rights legislation. It is a relic of white supremacy, and it started becoming used often in 1917 when southern, racist Democrats used it to block anti-lynching legislation. To this day, over 200 pieces of anti-lynching legislation have been proposed in America, and none have passed. As recently as a few months ago, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul used the filibuster to block anti-lynching legislation. Because of the filibuster, the victims of lynchings have not received justice.
We are using taxpayer dollars to pay Senators to go to work every day and get nothing done because our system is broken and we have a nonsense policy that allows people to hijack our democracy. We need to abolish the filibuster because it, together with the closure rule, is what prevents something like the For the People Act from getting through Congress with a simple majority.
Since Democrats have the majority vote in Congress, if they theoretically all agreed to abolish the filibuster, they could work with a simple majority. That’s where student organizing, like in YDSA, comes in. We will have to organize the youth and students, along with broader layers of the working class, in many ways. The campaign for HR1 is building up to important constituency meetings with Senators across the country, particularly key votes such as Senator Manchin and Senator Sinema. These are just some of our current tasks towards mobilizing to abolish the filibuster in order to get the For The People Act past.
Paving the way for substantial elimination of corruption in Congress, along with giving more political power to everyday Americans, will establish an equal playing field for unions, progressive policies, and greater opportunity for radical and structural change to occur. We want to give YDSA the ability to more readily influence politicians and enact a socialist agenda that will surely make this country one not for the billionaires and ultra-wealthy — but for the millions of people across America who are disenfranchised by our current political reality. If you agree, join your chapters in working on HR-1 alongside organizations like Un-PAC and help to rid the American electoral system of its inherent oligarchy.
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