We have lost our republic.

April 23, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

I just finished watching an inspiring TED talk by Lawrence Lessig, who implored:”We have lost our republic. We all need to act to get it back.”

What else can you say when only about .26% (don’t miss the decimal) of American give any significant amount to federal candidates running for office. Also consider that only .00042% of Americans (that’s only 132 people) gave 60% of the SuperPac money in 2012.

Politicians spend 30-70% of their time seeking money for reelection. This corrupts the entire political process, in that our politicians vote so as to keep their funders happy, not the people generally. Thanks to corrupt federal laws and terrible rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, the entire political process is corrupt, and it is legally corrupt. Very few people run the political process. Lessig argues that we can no longer ignore the corruption because this tiny number of people can block any meaningful political reform on every major issue. Nothing is getting done in Congress anymore, and that is the future unless we force the system to change. thus, election reform might not be THE most important issue (there are many important issues), but it is the “First Issue.” Nothing else is going to get done unless we address election finance reform.

Reforming the system is not a conceptually difficult issue. All we need to do is make sure the funding for our candidates comes from a wider swath of people. We need to spread out the influence of the funders. There are many worthy proposals out there that do this, such as the Fair Elections Act, John Sarbanes’ Grassroots Democracy Act, or optimally, the American Anti-Corruption Act put forwarded by the Represent.us organization. All we need to do is “change the incentives.”

Lessig implores the audience: “Prove the pundits wrong. If you love the republic, act. We have lost our republic. We all need to act to get it back.” We need to restore our republic, our representative democracy, meaning “a government dependent on people alone.

I would make one additional suggestion. We should either enact a meaningful grass roots campaign funding system, or we should stop celebrating the Fourth of July. Or alternatively, until we enact grassroots campaign funding, we should celebrate the “Anti-Fourth of July.”

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Category: Campaign Finance Reform, Corporatocracy, Corruption, Politics, populism

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    There are ways to get the people back into governing. A series of ballot initiatives in the various states to make safe the rights of citizens to be free from corporate and monied controls would be a start. For the rest:

    http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/10/16/our-impossible-republic/

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