We show up. We turn out. We overcome countless obstacles to vote and be heard. In November 2020, 150 million Americans voted. We still believe US democracy can work for us, but we have to work for it—and we’ll have to work to make sure we don’t have elections like this one again. My new book, Becoming a Democracy: How We Can Fix the Electoral College, Gerrymandering, and Our Elections, answers the question: Where do we go from here?
The good news is that even within our flawed system, we have tools to tackle our most stubborn election problems.
Our country’s aspirational narratives about “We the People” are beautiful, but the reality is, and has always been, that many of our foundational systems are designed to exclude some people while allowing others to horde power. Beyond flagrant, deliberate—and consistent—actions to suppress Black and brown votes and cynical efforts to erode trust, alienate, and mislead, the hard truth is that our system is built so the Senate doesn’t represent people, voters don’t pick the president (states do via the Electoral College), and gerrymandering means politicians pick voters—not the other way around.
If 2020 felt like a stress test for US democracy, it was! The tragedies and fears of the pandemic, rising economic anxiety, and the messy election prompted me to write this book, to chart a viable path forward. The good news is that even within our flawed system, we have tools to tackle our most stubborn election problems.
In Becoming a Democracy I identify the flaws, but my focus is really on solutions—how states can flex their muscles to empower voters, how we can leverage local power, and how we can get going on solutions that don’t require courts or constitutional amendments. It looks at how we can get from where we are now to real democracy. It shows us how we can:
- Stop systematic voter suppression.
- Amplify small donors’ power with democracy vouchers.
- Enfranchise people convicted of felonies.
- Bust gerrymandering.
- Make the Senate accountable to people (not just states) by adding new states (DC and Puerto Rico) and allowing big states to divide.
- Make all votes count (and not just swing state votes) by making Electoral College votes reflect the popular vote winner with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
- Eliminate the filibuster.
- Put power in the hands of regular people with Citizens’ Assemblies
Fixing democracy isn’t just about voting—or who gets to be president. The quest for just, sustainable, healthy communities hinges on systems that make all voices heard. That means ensuring every citizen can vote and every vote matters.
Everyone working toward solutions to healthcare, homelessness, pollution of our air, water, and climate, and so many other pressing issues knows we cannot make progress on issues that shape our lives without deep changes to our democratic systems—changes that give everyone a voice in formulating solutions. The book is a how-to for anyone who wants to take action to fix American democracy.
Get your copy of the book today and join us in the work of becoming a democracy at last! The e-book is available now—and print copies may be preordered.
Go here to sign up for updates about book events and to find out when hard copies are available.