Not Washington, but grassroots America. Not stale gridlock, but fresh reforms. Not negative ads and billionaire donors, but positive change and citizen activists pressing for gerrymander reform, voting rights for former felons, limits on lobbyists, and winning surprising victories to make elections fairer and more inclusive in states as varied as Florida, California, North Carolina, South Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Missouri, Utah and more.
Veteran Frontline Correspondent Hedrick Smith, one of PBS’s most trusted voices over three decades, takes viewers across country into half a dozen states with citizen activist leaders like Cindy Black mobilizing an army of volunteers in Washington State to overturn Citizens United; with TakeItBack.org, a prairie revolt demanding clean elections in South Dakota; and with North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement and Rev. William Barber fighting for voter rights.
Most Americans don’t know it, but 2018 was the best year for political reform in half a century, and these reforms have real impact. Connecticut’s public funding of campaigns has transformed state politics: who can afford to run, more women and minorities in office, a different legislative agenda. California’s crackdown exposing how dark money funding networks operate serves as a model for other states. Florida’s path-breaking gerrymander reform, adopted by a huge supermajority, not only shocked the power elite but caught lawmakers secretly trying to skirt the law. Says Florida leader Ellen Freidin, “The message is our political system in this country can be fixed. Get out there and fix it.”