Miles Rapoport

Miles Rapoport is a longtime democracy advocate who served as secretary of state in Connecticut, and president of both Dēmos and Common Cause. He is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center of the Kennedy School at Harvard and a member of the board of The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

McConnell’s Appeal to Millionaire Donors Makes Case for Constitutional Amendment on Political Money

The constitutional amendment deemed "radical" by the Senate minority leader simply affirms that money is not speech and that no one, however wealthy or powerful, has a constitutional right to spend unlimited sums to influence our elections.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) In this Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks toward the Senate chambers on Capitol Hill in Washington. H e surely did not intend it, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made a stunningly compelling case for a constitutional amendment allowing Congress and the states to restore sensible limits on the influence of money in politics. We appreciate his help and his clarity. The good news is that the Senate will vote on just such a proposal next month, the Democracy for All Amendment (S.J. Res 19). Senators still undecided about the amendment should study Sen. McConnell’s remarks carefully. Speaking to a roomful of ultra-rich political investors in June (audio here ), McConnell voiced his delight at their collective success in unharnessing political money. “The worst day of my political life” was when then-President George W. Bush signed the McCain-Feingold law with its limits on independent...

Challenging the Myths of the Libertarian Right

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
The emergence of Rand Paul as a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination marks an important turning point: Extreme libertarianism has entered the mainstream of American politics. This shift has been coming for 30 years, a period of growing attacks on government as "the enemy" combined with extolling the laissez-faire idea that the free market can solve all our problems. These attacks have not emerged out of thin air. Billions of dollars have been spent by corporations, foundations, and wealthy individuals to fund a large conservative policy and media infrastructure on the right, led by think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute. In recent years, though, the right has moved even further to the right, as more base Republican voters have embraced libertarian ideology and deep-pocketed funders like the Koch brothers have put more resources behind promoting this extreme worldview. Meanwhile, a new generation of...

A New American "demos"?

Standing on the mall Monday among the great and diverse crowd who came to celebrate the second inauguration of the President, I reacted strongly to two aspects of the day. The first was to the feeling produced by the crowd, to the moment itself. The second was something else, something perfectly clear: a new American “ demos ” has arrived. The demos of today, on display on the mall, was remarkable—a sea of people, supremely diverse in race, in age, in income levels, but united in the joy of the moment and in an ongoing sense of possibility for the future. It was a demos that stands in the cold and in long lines, not just at the inauguration but on Election Day through the night to exercise their rights as citizens. This is a new demos that demands that its diversity be more than simply cosmetic , but reflected in public policies that are more broad-based, inclusive, and committed to equality than those who have come before. And that breadth was fully reflected in the President's...

Understand the Democracy Is the Core Issue

This piece is part of the Prospect' s series on progressives' strategy over the next 40 years. To read the introduction, click here . Making our democracy vibrant, inclusive, and effective has to be a critical part of the progressive project for the next 40 years. Progressives need to take two leaps of understanding. The first is that the groups already working on individual democracy issues must embrace a multi-faceted democracy agenda that includes voting rights, campaign-finance reform, and consistent civic engagement. The second is that progressives working on other issues need to recognize that the distortions and failures of our democracy are a constant and daunting impediment to better outcomes in every issue arena. Democracy is not a side issue; it cannot just belong to “money and politics activists” or “voting-rights activists.” It is core to our success in the future. Here’s what must be done. Let everyone in. The number of roadblocks our system places in front of citizens...

The Democracy We Deserve

There's reason to be optimistic about the prospects for reform. Here's why.

The 2004 election confounded those who have blamed the flaws in our democracy on apathetic voters, apolitical young people, and a generalized culture of disengagement. More than 120 million citizens cast ballots, a turnout of 60 percent of eligible voters. When something important is at stake, voters will brave barriers. Unfortunately, the large turnout took place despite our election procedures. If the 2000 debacle in Florida showed that we had to modernize the machines used for voting and improve the shoddy list management used to qualify voters, the 2004 elections have given us a new set of procedural reforms necessary for us to have confidence in our election administration. The chaotic, crazy-quilt election administration, run all too often by people with a partisan bent, is a national embarrassment. In the end, we need to summon the national resources and the national will to create and enforce national standards for national elections. In addition to the litany of concrete...