09/06/2013 11:19 pm ET Updated Nov 06, 2013

What Good Government Can Do For You

Hello, we advocate for good government.

Growing up, I spent summers in the Philippines, my home country. During those summers I witnessed political corruption and abuse of power that was all too common for ordinary citizens. Moneyed influence was blatantly obvious in the legislative and local bodies, and even the Commission on Elections. In fact, the political climate was such that elections-related deaths still occurred. Could you imagine having to vote based on fear, instead of based on who you believed in?

The impact of those experiences played a significant role in my perception of government, the role of money in politics, and the importance of civic engagement and the right to vote. In fact, those experiences left such a lasting impact that now, as an adult and as an American Citizen, I'm working on tackling those same issues in American politics.

Hi, my name is Carmille, and I advocate for good government reform for Common Cause Hawaii. Our organization advocates and educates on "good government" measures that improve our political process, so that government officials can be held accountable to the public, and citizen voices can be elevated and heard in the political and electoral process.

What is Good Government?

"Good government" is a term used to describe the ideal type of government, or as some put it, the way government is supposed to function: one that is transparent and not corrupted by money, responsive to the public - and not private interests, where there is robust citizen participation, and where public officials are held accountable for their actions.

What does process-advocacy mean, and why does process matter?

Common Cause Hawaii advocates on process issues related to strengthening our democracy. We believe process-related issues and improvements are a universal issue and impact all of our social and economic policies.

Specifically, we focus on campaign finance (money in politics), the modernization of our voting systems, and legislative transparency & ethics.

We believe that:

1. Policy-makers must be more responsive to the people, not special interests
2. Our voting system needs to be upgraded and streamlined, to improve voter turnout and save taxpayer money
3. We need to make the legislature more transparent, and hold legislators accountable for their actions, in order to encourage participation in the policy-making process and restore public confidence in government.

Addressing and improving these areas can significantly -and positively--affect our politics and civic participation.

Key advocacy initiatives

A few advocacy initiatives that Common Cause Hawaii is working on are:

1. Advocating for the requirement of more thorough and timely reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures, and lobbyist expenditures
2. Establishing a publicly funded election program, to that political candidates are more responsive to the people, not special interests
3. Ensuring legislators do not abuse their title, status, and power for personal gain.

Achieving these lofty goals may be ambitious, but it is not impossible. With the prevalence of social media, there seems to be a new wave of citizens who are in tune with shenanigans that affect our public policy, want the bars set higher for government ethics and transparency, believe that money has no place in politics, and are angry enough to speak out on these issues and fight to improve the broken system we have in place.

I'm excited to have the wonderful opportunity to share with you our progress and challenges through the Huffington Post Hawaii. I invite you to participate in our efforts to strengthen our democracy. You can learn more about Common Cause Hawaii at Connect with us on social media, too: FB/CommonCauseHawaii and Twitter @CommonCauseHI.