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Larry Lessig: End Raging Cronyism, Save Our Republic

A higher percentage of Americans believed in the British crown in 1776 than the percentage of Americans who trust Congress today. Larry Lessig has an idea to change all of that.   

What’s the Big Idea?

If you are not planning to vote in the upcoming election, Larry Lessig has a good explanation why.

You, like most Americans, believe that money buys results in Congress. No matter who wins, you believe that corporate interests will still have too much power and prevent real change. You are correct in your belief that money buys results in Congress, Lessig says. However, he has a different prescription than non-participation.

What’s the Significance?

Lessig points out that .000015 percent, or 47 individuals, have given 42 percent of the Super PAC donations this election cycle. As a result of this “money election,” Lessig says a few powerful interests exert an influence that conflicts with the public good. 

Take deep water drilling. Why was BP’s application fast-tacked while we have spent 9 years and 10,000 pages studying the environmental impact of clean energy technology? The answer, of course, is money. 

Our political system is broken and the public knows it. That is why a higher percentage of Americans had confidence in the British crown in 1776 than the percentage of Americans who trust Congress today.

That is correct: 9 percent trust Congress. So what is Lessig’s solution? Don’t take the money out of campaigns. Change who the funders are. In the video below, Lessig presents his argument for citizen-funded campaigns in a talk delivered at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas held last month on Nantucket, MA. 

Watch the video here:

Photo courtesy of Meghan Brosnan.

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

To learn more about The Nantucket Project and how to attend the 2013 event visit


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