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

Restoring the Vote

The disenfranchisement of people convicted of felonies is one of the great exclusions of civic life in the United States. The problem's dimensions are large and growing larger. As of 1998, according to the Sentencing Project's groundbreaking 1999 report Losing the Vote: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, 3.9 million Americans were barred from voting as a result of felony convictions and a patchwork of inconsistent laws governing the restoration of voting rights. Current estimates raise this figure to 4.2 million. Almost one-third of these disenfranchised citizens are African-American men. In eight states, individuals convicted of felonies can never get back their rights. Many of the laws that keep ex-offenders from voting date back to Reconstruction--Florida's law, for instance, was passed in 1868--and are clearly intended to limit the franchise of African Americans. The Latino community is disproportionately affected as well. In recent decades, the...

Winning With Tax Reform: The Connecticut Story

I n October of 1991, 40,000 furious citizens massed in Hartford at the State Capitol, protesting Connecticut's new income tax, cursing and spitting on Governor Lowell Weicker, and threatening legislators with political extinction. One month later, Democrats in New Jersey were routed by an irate electorate in retribution for the passage of changes in the state's tax structure coupled with increased aid to education. Republicans took control of both houses of the New Jersey legislature by veto-proof margins. Both events reflected the crippling dilemma faced by progressives and Democrats in recent years: increased revenues and fair tax structures are necessary to improve the lives of people and communities and to demonstrate that government can deliver; and yet to touch the issue of taxes (other than to urge relief for the middle class) is political suicide. In state after state, severe cutbacks, scapegoating of state employees, shortchanging of cities and towns, and the general stifling...

Democracy's Moment

If nothing else, the 2000 election mess has begun to produce real political engagement and debate about democracy. For some this debate will focus narrowly on improving election equipment and modernizing election administration. Conservatives may even try to turn the debate to one that restricts voting opportunities under the guise of efficiency, racial neutrality, and eliminating fraud. But for progressives, this is a moment to expand the debate into one about making democracy as inclusive and vibrant as possible. This means fusing disparate strands of a pro-democracy movement into a multiracial coalition that honors and supports the agenda of communities of color while it embraces a broader agenda of engagement and reform. Until last November, the progressive community was ambivalent about democracy issues, which often were dismissed as mere process or "good-government" concerns. It isn't that democracy issues have been entirely absent. The civil rights movement has always been...