Amid the latest wave of voter suppression laws across the nation, Senate Democrats last week unveiled new voting rights legislation.
This legislation aims to safeguard the voting rights of millions of Americans. Ensuring access to the ballot for all eligible citizens is, of course, crucial to the health and integrity of American democracy. More than that, though, it is an essential precondition for the effective functioning of our regulatory system. Put simply: When voters’ voices are suppressed, lawmakers and agency officials may be less responsive to their needs — and more likely to favor those of corporations and other special interests.
Public support for regulations
Corporations often fight any regulations that threaten to restrict their profits; the general public, however, strongly supports protective regulations across the political spectrum.
This is true even of issues that provoke sharp disagreements among elected officials. When it comes to addressing pollution and climate change, for example, more assertive regulations are broadly popular with voters across the ideological spectrum, according to a 2021 poll by the Center for Progressive Reform and Data for Progress.
Because voters overwhelmingly favor protective regulations, more voting means a stronger regulatory system.
History bears this out.
The 1960s and ‘70s saw …
This week, CPR is launching its Beyond 12866 initiative, an online platform focused on promoting a progressive vision for rebuilding the U.S. regulatory system. Such a regulatory system will be essential not only to achieving the progressive vision of a more just and equitable society; it will also do the heavy practical lifting needed for implementing key elements of a progressive policy agenda, such as the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and Black Lives Matter movement.
This initiative begins from the recognition that in the near term, such progressive regulatory reform will need to be accomplished administratively, as opposed to legislatively, given the divisive politics of the issue and ongoing congressional dysfunction more generally. Using such administrative tools as executive orders and memoranda, the president in particular has considerable influence over how the regulatory system operates, and appropriately so given his (gendered language intended, unfortunately …