The first bill brought forward by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives is a declaration of priorities and a statement of values. But it is also a question — as in, what kind of government do you want?

Do you want a government that is fair, one in which the influence of Americans of modest means can at least hope to contend with the influence of the rich and powerful?

Do you want a government that is open and transparent, one where conflicts of interest are banished or at least disclosed, one where the needs of constituents have a chance against the transactional relationships between elected officials and the money behind them?

Do you want a government that reflects the electorate that it serves, one where the right to vote is universal — and not a function of where you live, how you vote, how much you make or how you look?

With H.R. 1, House Democrats answer “yes” to those questions.

The sweeping bill would strengthen disclosures around political spending. It calls for an end to the ill effects of the Citizens United decision, and establishes public financing for federal campaigns.

The bill would require all candidates for president and vice president to release at least 10 years of tax returns, and create stricter requirements and oversight around lobbying.

Finally, it would make it easier for Americans to register to vote and cast a ballot. It would end the partisan gerrymandering and vote purges that distort election results and disenfranchise voters, and help make sure that the 2020 elections are run smoothly and securely, and that the results are accurate. It would restore the protective provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act nullified by a recent wrongheaded Supreme Court decision.

In doing so, the bill aims to make sure that everyone who is eligible and willing to vote is able to, that they cast that vote in a district that is fairly drawn, and that their vote in counted correctly.

The 2018 election showed why such reform is necessary for the health of democracy. Facing tight races and without the Voting Rights Act to rein them in, some states conducted voter-roll purges and enacted laws making it more difficult to vote, all under the guise of preventing voter fraud — which is virtually nonexistant and entirely inconsequential.

Tens of thousands of mostly African-American voters were purged from the rolls in Georgia by the Republican secretary of state, who also happened to be running for governor. Similar purges in Ohio and Arizona also overwhelmingly affected black and low-income residents.

Those are predominately Democratic voters, and that is the goal. Many party members have admitted as such, and in North Carolina in 2017, a federal judge found a voter I.D. law targeted blacks with “almost surgical precision.”

And that doesn’t even mention the long lines, faulty voting machines and far-flung polling places that suppressed voting turnout, often in areas where lower turnout would benefit the party in charge.

With Republicans in control of the White House and the Senate, H.R. 1 won’t inspire much debate, and we’d do well to ask ourselves why. Shouldn’t we all agree on the sanctity of voting rights — that upholding American democracy is more important than short-term political victory?

It makes you wonder, what kind of government do they want?

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