Allen unveils democracy agenda for Mass.
Calls for polling by school committees, rebuilding local journalism
DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL candidate Danielle Allen unveiled a democracy agenda on Wednesday, outlining a host of initiatives to encourage greater voter participation and civic involvement and reduce the influence of money in politics.
Some of the proposals are part of the current debate on Beacon Hill — same-day voter registration, the establishment of Indigenous People’s Day as a state holiday, the creation of a new state flag, and allowing communities to embrace ranked-choice voting and a lower voting age without state approval.
Others are more novel. Allen would make state resources available for conflict resolution at the local level and for local school committees and other boards to poll residents to learn where they stand on issues. She would also establish “a universal expectation of service for all young people,” with a particular focus on dealing with climate change and reporting on state and local issues. Aides said the service initiative would be voluntary.
She also wants to bolster the state’s information ecosystem to lessen the influence of social media. She said government can do much more to increase transparency and, as governor, promises to have the office comply with the Public Records Law. Currently, the governor complies at his discretion.
To lessen the role of money in politics, Allen said she would pursue passage of legislation at the state level requiring a majority of shareholders to approve any “electioneering expenditures” by a corporation. At the federal level, she backs passage of an amendment to the Constitution that would roll back the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and limit election expenditures by corporations.Allen is on leave from Harvard University, where she teaches and is a scholar of Athenian democracy. She also has played a role in fostering civic engagement nationally by co-chairing a Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship under the umbrella of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The commission issued its report, entitled Our Common Purpose, in 2020.
In a statement, Allen said the state needs to return to the basics if democracy is going to work. “This agenda delivers a strategy to defeat creeping authoritarianism, alienation, and exhaustion by building a compelling people-powered alternative — a green and healthy next-generation democracy that genuinely works for everyone,” she said.