Dozens of individuals and experts from organizations across the political spectrum participated in this effort and endorsed the statement below. If you would like to add your name, please contact us.
Our democratic institutions face an historic crisis borne of disregard of norms of governing, consolidation of power, tolerance of corruption and deep division. At a time when so many grave challenges face our nation, addressing the process of governance may seem like a luxury rather than a priority. But the inability of our government, our leaders, and our civil servants to effectively respond to and manage the unending crises of our time puts in stark relief the simple truth that fair, effective and accountable processes are a necessary requisite to getting any of the substance right.
That is why in January of 2020, motivated by a combination of hope and fear for our government and our country, leaders from nearly two-dozen organizations joined forces to begin work on a bold agenda for an accountable government that serves all Americans. Early on, we knew we would not be satisfied just to fill the cracks that for too long have eaten away at the foundations of our democracy. We will not succeed if we merely return to the normalcy of the previous status quo. The challenges our nation faces are too great and the moment too urgent to consider half measures. Our response must meet the breadth and scale of the challenge, and help ensure we never find ourselves in a crisis like this again. We believe that it is time to repair the foundations, and rebuild them so that our institutions serve us better than at any time they have in the past.
Groups and individuals that support the Accountability 2021 Agenda represent a range of interests, from civil rights to economic policy, from public health to national security, united in their concern that American democratic institutions will not be able to survive a continued anti-democratic onslaught. All are willing to set aside their different priorities and politics to create bold, actionable and urgently necessary solutions for a more accountable government. Our recommendations can and should be adopted by whoever is in the White House and regardless of which party has a majority in Congress. Democracy, after all, is not a partisan issue.
Our agenda to create a more accountable government must begin on Inauguration Day 2021, no matter who takes the oath of office. But any effort to address the erosion of democratic norms and values that has occurred over decades will be a marathon, and supporters of Accountability 2021 expect to work to advance accountability for the long haul.
To us, an accountable government is one that recognizes that the public has a right to know what our government is doing, how it is spending our money, and who is reaping the benefits of its actions. In an accountable government, the rule of law applies equally to those in power and the most marginalized. An accountable government ensures that decision-making considers all perspectives and that the public has a voice in the process. And an accountable government is responsive to and representative of all of us, regardless of where we live, our economic or employment status, or, most especially our race, ethnicity, religion or gender or sexual orientation.
By those standards, we have never had an accountable government. But we know now that ignoring the norms of accountability and skirting the intent of the law tears at the heart of our institutions, destroying them from within. Simply put, our democratic institutions may not survive if we do not act quickly and aggressively.
A democracy in decline demands that we come together as one, putting aside differences to find common cause.
We, the undersigned, believe that our call to create a more accountable government will be heard if delivered with a collective voice. We are at a crossroads, and we believe that we have the power to transform our democracy, restoring the integrity of our institutions and bringing our system of government closer to one that is inclusive, equitable, responsive and accountable to us all. We support the principles of government accountability and the need to act as soon as a new presidential and congressional term begin, although not all of us agree on every recommendation contained in this document or the specifics of every proposed response to the problems identified. If we do not take bold steps now, we risk an even deeper and potentially irreversible decline.
- American Oversight
- Campaign Legal Center
- Common Cause
- Demand Progress
- Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
- Equity Forward
- The FACT Coalition
- Federation of American Scientists
- Good Government Now
- Government Accountability Project
- Human Rights First
- Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health
- National Security Archive
- National Security Counselors
- Project On Government Oversight
- Public Citizen
- The Revolving Door Project
- Taxpayers for Common Sense
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- Whistleblowers of America
- Gary Bass, Bauman Foundation
- Candice Lynn Davies
- Caroline Fredrickson, Georgetown Law and Brennan Center
- Lori Green
- Robert Huisman
- Sally Katzen, Former Government Official and Professor, New York University School of Law
- Kevin Kosar, American Enterprise Institute
- Cynthia Martin
- Greg Rieves
- Gabe Roth, Fix the Court
- Jennifer Royer, Society of Professional Journalists
- Thomas M. Susman, Strategic Advisor, American Bar Association
- James Thurber, American University
- Susan Udry, Defending Rights & Dissent
- Augusta Wilson, Climate Science Legal Defense Fund