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Three stories in the past months: On democracy vouchers, news vouchers, and public advocates
Wanted to drop a quick note to share three recent stories about Democracy Policy Network initiatives.
First, in September, Democracy Policy Network policy organizer Tom Latkowski made the case in The Nation for why Seattle’s democracy vouchers model could democratize the American campaign finance system:
Americans are ready to fix campaign finance. In polling, the main point of disagreement is whether our system needs to be “completely rebuilt” or just needs “fundamental change.” Democracy vouchers won’t solve every problem. We could use a more enlightened Supreme Court, and a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. But we shouldn’t wait: With democracy vouchers, cities and states can make their campaign finance systems more open and equitable.
Under a news voucher system, citizens would receive several “vouchers” that can be given to local news outlets in return for a subscription. The government would then directly pay the news outlet for the value of the voucher. News voucher proposals to support journalism in the United States have been discussed for nearly 20 years, though so far have not been implemented.
And today, in The American Prospect, Rachel Cohen writes about our and others' efforts to spread the public advocate model (most prominently established in NYC's Public Advocate Office) to more states in more ways:
The legislation, which is currently stalled in the House, is part of what Stewart and the Democracy Policy Network—an interstate coalition of democracy-minded legislators and advocates—hope will be just the first in a new push to catalyze public advocate posts across the U.S. In mid-December, the Network convened a virtual event pitching the idea to lawmakers, staffers, and activists; over 220 individuals RSVP’d from 42 states. In Pennsylvania, there’s also a legislative push to establish a health care–specific public advocate, someone who could investigate not only the government but also the private sector. The idea was inspired by similar health care–specific positions that exist in Nevada and Connecticut. So far, none of the attendees of the virtual event have yet run with the statewide idea, according to Pete Davis, the co-founder of the group. But his hope is to win in Maryland first. “It’s certainly exciting to be part of something that could spawn into a broader movement,” says Stewart.
Read the deep-dive into the public advocate model here.
Plus, if you chip in soon, we’ll send you a set of our “This is What Democracy Looks Like Deck of Cards”:
Onward to a deeper democracy,