There’s no denying it: Our country is divided right now. It seems, wherever we look, we see conflict and disagreement among family, friends, neighbors and in Congress.
As faith leaders, we’re tired of seeing secret donors instigating these tensions and pouring out hundreds of millions of dollars to obscure the voice of the people. Our religious traditions call us to treat everyone equally — regardless of race, income, age, creed or gender. This includes a call for every person’s vote to hold equal weight. Yet, greed and abuse of power are corrupting our democratic principle of one person, one vote.
However, it’s not too late to begin the process of healing within our communities and our political system. In Washington, the Senate is considering a comprehensive package of voting rights and anti-corruption reforms called the For the People Act. This bill would put a stop to the dark money that is at the root of the division we’re seeing across the country.
Whether a person is working class or wealthy, one’s voice and priorities for the community should matter equally. But, thanks to the unlimited amounts of money that special interests and dark-money groups have funneled into our elections, we’re seeing the interests of wealthy donors and corporations prioritized at the expense of everyday Americans.
In West Virginia, it is clear that dark money has negatively affected the well-being of people across the state. Too many of us have seen firsthand the effects of opioid manufacturers flooding our communities with pills and the pain and heartbreak brought with them, or witnessed a hardworking neighbor or friend who was denied health care coverage because of the insurance industry’s aggressive lobbying. It’s clear that, when dark money wins, we lose.
Enough is enough. The Senate must pass the For the People Act, to restore integrity to our electoral system and let the people be the guiding force in our democracy, not special interests.
We must prioritize this ethics reform to ensure that everyone has equal access to the ballot box. Politicians across the country are targeting certain voters, making it more difficult for seniors, the disabled, the working class, students and minorities to cast their votes to determine the future of their homes, their lives and their jobs. Our faith teaches us that we must pursue justice, fairness and integrity for all, and this legislation will move our country on a path forward to do just that, by overriding and protecting against these state-level measures.
Our representatives in Washington have been entrusted with a great responsibility by the Constitution and by the voters. In return, they need to use that responsibility to protect and preserve our democracy for us and for future generations by passing the For the People Act.