Voice of the People Action (VOPA) seeks to improve American democracy and rebuild public trust by giving “We the People” a greater voice in government. We urge elected officials to listen to and take into account the views of their constituents as a whole, especially as expressed through public consultations with representative samples of their constituents.
Research shows that voters are deeply dissatisfied with Congress. They think their representatives listen to special interests more than their constituents.
Voters are craving representatives who will listen to their constituents as a whole and take their views into account when voting on legislation. That’s why we are asking U.S. House and Senate candidates to make a Listen to the People Pledge.
Candidates, by making The Listen to the People Pledge, can show their commitment to serve and listen to the people–not just those who voted for them or who are politically connected–but the people as a whole.
The Listen to the People Pledge
We are asking all congressional candidates, including current Members of the U.S. House and Senate, to take the following Listen to the People Pledge:
As a Member of Congress, I will:
- take into account the views of my constituents as a whole when voting on legislation
- pay close attention to public consultation surveys and forums conducted with representative samples of my constituent
- actively work to let my constituents know that I will listen to all the people I represent
Why is the Pledge Important?
Technology has enabled new ways to consult the public but Congress has not caught up.
Universities and nonpartisan civic organizations have been conducting public consultations in states and districts across the country, and are ramping up to do more. Representative samples of voters are briefed on legislative proposals, evaluate competing arguments, and then register their views.
New research, reported in The New York Times, shows that large majorities of both Democrat and Republican voters say they would likely vote for candidates who make this kind of pledge – with more than four-in-ten even saying they would cross party lines.
Voice of the People Action’s new research from the final weeks of the 2022 campaign shows that 8% – 10% of voters would have likely changed their support to a given congressional candidate if they had taken the Listen to the People Pledge.
So, how can representatives listen to the people as a whole?
1. Engage with public consultations conducted by universities or nonpartisan civic organizations:
- Get briefed on public consultations conducted with representative samples of their constituents.
- Participate in public consultation forums held with their constituents.
2. Conduct their own outreach:
- Make concerted efforts to elicit the views of as many constituents as possible – especially through citizen engagement tools that provide accurate and balanced issue briefings and enable constituents to register their views.
3. Consider public opinion surveys:
- Pay attention to surveys by credible researchers conducted with representative samples of constituents in the state or congressional district.