Every Good Government Proposal on One Bill

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Larry Lessig launched “Change Congress” in the hopes of one day having a Congress filled with lawmakers who support four moves that ensure the purity of the governing process and protect our democracy:

1. Eliminating money from lobbyists and PACs.
2. Ending earmarks.
3. Creating greater transparency in Congress.
4. Ushering in publicly financed campaigns.

Good government groups have always sought broader reforms, however, and have always gone into greater detail. If you want to see what the entire good government platform looks like, check out the Transparency in Government Act 2008. It was created by the Sunlight Foundation and is thoroughly badass.

TGA08 (my nickname) goes beyond Lessig’s four goals. It wants to put all FOIA responses online, for example, and has a host of measures to increase transparency in the executive branch. According to John Wonderlich, the Program Director at the Sunlight Foundation, TGA is more focused on information access than on process reform, meaning it doesn’t advocate the elimination of earkmarks, as Lessig does, but does support making all information pertaining to earmarks public.

The Sunlight Foundation is inviting everyday folks to comment on the bill and all its many provisions. “We made a conscious decision to turn to the Internet community rather than turning to members of Congress first,” says Wonderlich. “We think we’ll end up with better legislation if it comes out of a community effort.” One of the core ideas of Wonderlich’s project is that if you give everyday citizens access to government (and legislation) you get better government (and better legislation).

Wonderlich says The Sunlight Foundation has no immediate plans to use an ally on Capitol Hill to introduce TGA08. Wouldn’t it be revolutionary if a presidential candidate made something like this bill a key part of his or her platform, and then implemented even half of it after taking office?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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