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The Transition – 2021

The Biden-Harris administration and Congress have a chance to make American democracy work for all, for the first time.

In 2020, the health of America’s public institutions became a central issue. Despite the pandemic, false charges of voter fraud, and voter suppression, we had the highest voter turnout since 1900. The problems of mass incarceration and a broken criminal justice system produced a demand for racial justice and fundamental change. Even as he leaves office, Donald Trump’s actions and rhetoric reveal the potential for abuse of presidential power.

Now, we have arrived at a moment when transformational change is necessary, overdue — and possible. The Biden administration and Congress have a historic opportunity to implement solutions and once again make America live up to its highest democratic ideals of freedom and justice. Even in a time of divided government, significant progress is possible. 

As we begin this transition period, the Brennan Center has outlined a reform agenda, a mix of executive and legislative actions, to fix our broken democracy.

The Brennan Center for years has worked to craft solutions that can strengthen our country. They include automatic voter registration to ensure that all eligible citizens can vote. Small donor public financing, to give ordinary citizens a louder voice in politics despite big money. The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act, an innovative plan to use federal funds to spur states to reduce incarceration. All these would make our system work better. All would be part of the effort to ensure that our systems advance equality and undo the legacy of systemic racism. 

Many of these ideas can attain bipartisan support, even in a polarized and hyperpartisan Congress. And many can be achieved by executive action, prudent and constitutionally sound actions the new administration can take from the start. 

A more democratic and just America is achievable. The next four years present a rare chance to implement policies that result in real and lasting change for future generations.

Key Proposals