Second Rate Democracy

Seventeen Ways America is Less Democratic than other Major Western Countries and How We Can Do Better

A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor Emeritus of Politics, Mount Holyoke College

Seventeen Ways America is Less Democratic than other Major Western Countries and How We Can Do Better

A web project of Douglas J. Amy, Professor Emeritus of Politics, Mount Holyoke College

Online Resources

If You Want to Do Something about the Problems of Democracy

There are lots of activists concerned about the political issues discussed on this website. They believe that we have to fix the institutional problems with our democracy to give average Americans power over public policy decisions. There are many advocacy groups, think-tanks, and grassroots reform efforts working toward this goal. Below are links to some of the major reform groups that you can join and/or support in their efforts to bring real democracy to our country. History tells us that the kind of institutional political reforms we need can only come about when large numbers of people organize to demand these changes.

American Promise. An organization at the forefront of promoting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and other Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance, and allow “Congress and the states to regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”

Brennan Center for Justice. A preeminent think-tank and advocacy group working “to craft and advance reforms that will make American democracy work, for all.” They address issues including voting rights, gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, court reform, and constitutional reforms.

Campaign Legal Center. “Advancing democracy through law.”  They fight for every American’s right to participate in the democratic process.

Center for American Progress. A leading progressive think-tank working to further democracy by advocating reform in a variety of areas, including gerrymandering, the courts, and lobbying.

Citizen Works. Founded by Ralph Nader, this group works on a variety of issues, including voting system reform.

Common Cause. A veteran activist organization working to limit the effect of money in politics to help solve the gerrymandering problem, and to make our legislatures more representative.

Declaration for American Democracy.  A coalition of reform groups organized to “create and pass a series of fundamental reforms to rebalance our moneyed political system, empower everyday Americans, ensure equal justice for all, protect the public’s right to know, reduce barriers to participation in our elections, vigorously enforce voting laws, and fix our ethics laws.”

Democracy 21.  A leader in the movement for historic reforms in campaign finance, voting rights, and government ethics.

Democracy Matters. Leading college-based group that seeks to strengthen our democracy, focusing on removing private money from politics and other pro-democracy reforms.

Demos. A dynamic “think and do” tank leading the fight for political reform in a number of areas, including voting rights, court reform, money in politics, and economic justice.

Equal Citizens. An organization that believes that “we must fix our democracy before we can truly affect change in Washington.” Working on reforming campaign financing, ending gerrymandering, making voting easier, and reforming the electoral college.

FairVote. The primary advocate of alternatives to winner-take-all voting and the problems it causes, like gerrymandering, misrepresentation of parties, the two-party duopoly, low voter turnout, and the under-representation of women and minorities. Alternatives include proportional representation, single-winner ranked-choice voting and direct election of the president.

Free Speech for People. Helping to lead the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo, and confronting the misuse of the U.S. Constitution to claim corporate exemptions from our laws.

Fix the Court. Works on Supreme Court reform, particularly term limits for justices.

League of Women Voters. Been working for generations to improve the quality of democracy in the U.S. – currently focusing on money in politics, expanding voter access, and redistricting.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections. Maine organization championing and defending the Clean Elections form of public financing for state elections. A good model for other states.

Move to Amend. A grassroots organization that seeks to reform campaign finance and blunt corporate political power by amending the United States Constitution to end corporate personhood and state that money is not speech.

National Popular Vote. Leading advocate of an interstate compact to reform the Electoral College to ensure that the winner of the presidential election is the winner of the popular vote.

RepresentUs. A leading grassroots organization working successfully on the state and local level to pass “anti-corruption” laws that address campaign financing, gerrymandering, lobbying reform,  and the two-party duopoly.

Roosevelt Institute. A think-tank and advocacy group dedicated to making our democracy accessible and redefining the role of government. Issues include voting rights, campaign finance reform, and reform of the Senate.  Has student groups on several campuses.

Stand Up America. A group that believes that “if we want to make progress on the critical issues facing our country, from health care and climate change to economic equality, immigration, and gun control, then we must fix our broken political system first. That’s why we’re working to strengthen our democracy at the state and federal level by increasing voter participation, restoring voting rights, and reducing the influence of big money in politics.”

Wolf-PAC. A grassroots group organizing to fight the corrosive effects of big money on U.S. politics and to ensure government of, by, and for the people.  Their main objective is to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that will address rulings like Citizens United and that will “break the stranglehold that corruption and special interests have on Congress.”

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