Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

For an Accurate Census, Look to the Grassroots

democracy_rules.jpg Now that President Donald Trump has backed away from adding a citizenship question to the census, the real action moves to a lesser-noticed battle playing out on the ground. That’s where an unprecedented coalition of national, local, and community groups is mobilizing to ensure that the decennial census counts all U.S. residents, citizens or not. Spearheaded by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the effort has drawn together more than 150 partners , from national civil rights groups to librarians, faith leaders, and health-care workers. Major philanthropic donors, including the Ford, Kellogg, and Open Society Foundations, have kicked in more than $50 million . “This effort in 2020 is unprecedented in the scope and the number of groups looking to reach communities across the country,” says Beth Lynk, director of the Census Counts campaign led by the Leadership Conference Education Fund. National partners include the Asian...

How’s This for a Radical Campaign-Finance Proposal? Follow the Existing Rules.

democracy_rules.jpg To beat Donald Trump in 2020, the democratic presidential nominee will have to solve a familiar progressive puzzle: how to win over voters who hate big political money without unilaterally disarming against a well-funded opponent. So far, no leading Democrat has figured out how to make the pieces fit. While the party’s primary candidates have scrambled to outdo one another in “purity” pledges, from rejecting corporate PAC money to returning lobbyists’ donations, such promises are largely symbolic. Only a fraction of campaign receipts come from corporate PACs, and that money is fully disclosed and subject to strict limits in any case. As for lobbyists, so many operate outside the disclosure rules that any “ban” contains a giant loophole. The bigger money—and the bigger threat to democracy—comes from ill-regulated, billionaire-backed groups like super PACs, secretive nonprofits, and candidate-party joint fundraising...

To Reassert Its Lost Power, Congress Must Join the 21st Century

democracy_rules.jpg As Congress struggles to regain its place as the first (or even a coequal) branch of government, public attention has centered on the House committees issuing contempt citations to seek court enforcement of their Trump administration subpoenas. But a little-noticed special committee toiling quietly out of the limelight might stand the best chance of helping Congress seize back some of the power it has ceded to the executive branch. The Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, set up in January as part of a deal between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House moderates, is tackling an unglamorous but crucial question: How can Congress update its outmoded rules and infrastructure, and start to function again? It’s no simple task. The committee’s easiest and most obvious first step, as journalist and scholar Lee Drutman has argued, would be to “give Congress its brain” back by investing in support agencies like the Congressional Research...

Voter Registration Is Surging—So Republicans Want to Criminalize It

democracy_rules.jpg The new face of voter suppression is also the oldest Jim Crow tactic on the books: Block voters from getting on the rolls to begin with. In the wake of a midterm that saw surging turnout by non-white, young, and urban voters—all blocs that tend to favor Democrats—a backlash in GOP state legislatures was perhaps inevitable. What troubles voting rights advocates is that Republicans have now set out to penalize not just voters but the groups trying to register them, in some cases with astronomical fines and jail time that effectively criminalize civic engagement. The most extreme example is a law newly enacted in Tennessee that imposes civil and criminal penalties, including fines of up to $10,000 or more and close to a year in jail, on organizers who submit incomplete registration forms, fail to participate in state-mandated trainings, or fail to submit forms within a ten-day window. The law violates both the First and the 14th Amendments, say civil...

Republicans Abandon Election Security

democracy_rules.jpg Russian attacks on the U.S. election infrastructure in 2016 were even more serious than reported at the time, recent disclosures show, and intelligence officials say they are bracing for more aggressive attacks from a wider array of foreign adversaries in 2020. Yet instead of moving to shore up the nation’s vulnerable voting machines and databases, the Trump administration is sabotaging efforts to enhance election security at every turn. Trump’s determination to portray Russian interference as a hoax has made it taboo for members of his own administration to even talk about foreign meddling, and has derailed the leading bipartisan election security bill on Capitol Hill. To make matters worse, Republicans have signaled that they don’t even plan to hold a single hearing on election security legislation—despite a growing list of bills introduced in recent weeks to block foreign interference on multiple fronts , many of them bipartisan . The...

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