The People’s Party Responds to the For The People Act (HR 1)

The People’s Party recognizes that House Resolution 1 – For The People Act of 2021 addresses a wide spectrum of issues relating to elections in the United States and that the responses to this bill have been varied. Clocking in at just under 800 pages, it is unsurprising that HR 1 has features that elicit a wide spectrum of responses. Rather than simply endorsing or opposing a bill because of who may or may not have endorsed or opposed it before you, it is important to examine multiple aspects and perspectives.

After an examination of HR 1, the People’s Party can confidently say that this bill includes multiple provisions that are positive for the average voter. Some of these provisions include new rules making it easier to register to vote including automatic voter registration and same-day registration, empowering small-dollar donors, stopping the practice of voter rolls purging, requiring states to allow people with felony convictions to vote, allowing all eligible voters to cast their vote by mail for any reason, reducing the power of super PACs, allowing at least two weeks for early voting, and more. Each of these provisions together or as standalone actions are conducive to democracy, many of which impact the voter directly. However, HR 1 also details changes that further erode the strength and integrity of our ailing democracy. 

HR 1 outlines changes that will make it more difficult to build and grow political parties outside of the corporate duopoly in the United States. This bill contains many items that will harm the ability of independent parties to form and flourish. 

If passed into law, HR 1 would: 

  • Increase the fundraising requirements for a party to qualify for public matching funds from $5,000 to $25,000 in 20 states.
  • Lock in a two-party plus independents structure for state redistricting. This would ultimately exclude small and new parties from participating on redistricting boards.
  • Do away with general election grants that have historically been accessed when a party wins 5 percent or more of the vote in the previous presidential election.

And most shockingly, HR 1 would:

  • Increase the amount of money a national party committee can give a presidential candidate from $5,000 to $100,000,000, representing a dangerous centralization of power in the corporate-captured national committees of the Democratic and Republican parties.

It should also be noted that on Wednesday night, amendments that would fortify our democracy failed, including an amendment brought by Rep. Ayanna Pressley that would have lowered the voting age to 16 and another, sponsored by Rep. Cori Bush, that would have ended voter disenfranchisement for the more than 5 million people legally barred from voting in the U.S. as a result of incarceration.

As significant as the provisions that HR 1 includes are the provisions it excludes.

The citizens of almost every other wealthy country on Earth are afforded human rights that our government denies the American people — rights like free health care and paid sick leave. They live healthier and more secure lives because they enjoy multi-party systems that give their citizens more choices, and force political parties to compete vigorously to earn support from voters. 

Countries of only a few million people, like Greece, have six political parties or more, whereas the US, a country of 325 million people, has only two major parties, both funded by Wall Street. If our commitment to democracy and voter empowerment is genuine, we must oppose monopolies in government as vigorously as we oppose them in the economy. That’s why the People’s Party believes that commitments to building a multi-party democracy and getting corporate money out of politics must be at the heart of any reform of our government’s structure. 

Accordingly, the officials we elect will fight for proportional representation and ranked choice voting, and we believe they must be included in HR 1. Without the framework for an authentic and thriving democracy that they provide, other changes will fall short of a fundamental transfer of power from big business to the people.

We urge lawmakers to remove the portions of HR 1 that will inhibit the creation and growth of alternative political parties — working people deserve choices outside of the Democratic and Republican parties, including but not limited to, the People’s Party, the Green Party, and the Libertarian Party. Almost two-thirds of Americans now want a major new party. The establishment parties should earn their support from voters instead of building monopolies to fortify against the wishes of the people.

We also stand in opposition to such lengthy bills as HR 1 that are next to impossible for both members of Congress and average Americans to read and interpret in full. More often than not significant strategy is employed in deciding what to include in lengthy bills. Positive and necessary provisions are included while other less desirable provisions are hidden within or included to elicit a specific reaction. We urge lawmakers in Washington to not play games with the lives and rights of Americans.

We thank the Green Party for shining a light on the harmful provisions buried within this important piece of legislation.