Demos Vice President of Policy and Legal Strategies Brenda Wright released the following statement:
"Tonight, in his last State of the Union, President Obama lifted up the importance of fixing our politics so that all voices can be heard in our democracy.
"He noted how too many people feel that 'the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.' To live up to our democratic tenets, President Obama called for reducing the influence of money in politics and modernizing our election system to make it easier for people to vote. President Obama’s words closely reflect the values that Demos works for every day of the year, and they are worth lifting up.
"We were inspired when he quoted the Constitution's opening words 'We the People' and said, 'These are words that insist we rise or fall together.' He is right in saying that the future we want is within our reach– but only if we fix our politics.
"As the President said, we’ve got to reduce the influence of money in politics, so just a handful of families aren’t financing our elections. 'Democracy grinds to a halt' when average people feel their voices don’t matter– when they feel the system is rigged in favor of the wealthiest. And he was right in saying that too many people feel that way right now.
"President Obama is also right in saying that the future we want is within our reach– but only if we fix our politics, saying 'If our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution.' We need to look not only at the disproportionate influence of the donor class, but the Supreme Court rulings that opened the floodgate in the first place. For example, this year will mark the 40th anniversary of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court case that set the basic structure of campaign finance law. More than any other single Supreme Court case, Buckley launched a legacy of political, economic, and racial inequality that persists today. Demos is working for a new constitutional vision that will put people, not money, at the center of our democracy.
"Finally, the President said that we need to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now.
"Demos is hard at work to make that vision a reality– through our work to reduce barriers to voter registration and to lessen the overwhelming influence of money in our elections so that We the People can make our voices heard."