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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