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Thursday, January 2, 2014

I am almost at a loss as to how to begin this blog entry. I’ve been reading this book and studying this topic for a while now. I think I’m ready to publicly tackle it. It pushes my informational limits.

Ever since I was little, it’s been made clear to me that Congress is 
corrupt. I never knew why, I just knew that everyone in my life was unsatisfied with its performance. As an eighteen year old Political Science and Journalism Major, I now strive to find out why.

A public intellectual and activist by the name of Lawrence Lessig came to speak at my college a little while back, accompanied by another man who I know significantly less about by the name of Jeffrey D. Clements.

The topic they tackled: Money in Politics.

I bought both of their books after their presentation, and had them signed because I was sure the opportunity would not present itself again. The books I purchased were Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig and Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements.
I have not yet read the latter book, but I have quite literally just finished Lessig’s book.

It’s a very good read, comprehensive on the topic of the corruption of Congress through its means of campaign fundraising, and certainly required a great amount of mental exertion.

I’m going to attempt to outline the main points of the book the best I can, but I still recommend you read it, or at least check out Lessig’s TED Talk:

Basically, the main cause of corruption in Congress are lobbyists and Super PAC’s, raising insane amounts of money for candidates with corporate interests in mind and creating a sort of “gift” economy and culture on the Hill which motivates Senators and Representatives to act in the interests of the wealthy as opposed to the interests of the greater body of “ordinary” citizens.

Congress members would act in the interests of these Lobbyists and their companies in order to secure for themselves a high paying job as a lobbyist or board member after their term ended.

Yikes. So, how does Lessig propose this issue be combatted?
1.      Write and pass a bill to limit individual contributions to campaigns
2.      Have non-politicians run in Congressional races for the sole purpose of promoting “clean-money” campaigning and force other politicians who otherwise would not run “clean-money” to either admit their against it or join in and support that kind of campaigning
3.      Elect a President whose sole purpose is to “(1) hold the government hostage until Congress enacts a program to remove the fundamental corruption that is our government, and (2) once that program is enacted, she will resign.” (Lessig, 285).
4.      Call and Article V Convention made up of representatives not holding a seat in Congress to pursue Constitutional reform.
5.      A combination of all four aforementioned.

This is a very limited outline I am presenting to you. I recommend you do some research on your own. Definitely at least watch the TED Talk. You will not be disappointed.  

I’m a Rootstriker now. You should be too.

1 comment:

  1. I find this issue both pertinent and fascinating. As a rational, informed citizen, I think of congressional reform as a no-brainer, especially given their consistent inability to solve any issues. However, I also recognize the inherent difficulty in tackling such an issue. Congress' reliance on money has created an ineffective system, but, in working towards the destruction of reasonable government, this corruption has made itself almost impossible to exterminate. We live in a broad, populous country in a globalized world. Without significant funding, election is nearly impossible even for the finest campaign. Even by making a stand and fundraising only through modest donations from individuals, even if said candidate could win, the full efforts of a monopolized and insanely wealthy opposition would crush the efforts of such an individual. We've already seen this happen and witness it on a sadly frequent basis. Even if congress' reliance on bribery - I mean, lobbying - was easier to tackle, that wouldn't be the end to the struggle there. The possibly even more impossible problem is in the voters. We live in a republic with a plethora of ideas, many of which are intensely at odds with each other. People on all sides are too busy trying to prove that they're right to attempt comprehensive reform. Also, any plans for such a reform would seem incredibly radical and intellectual, two things which are becomingly increasingly taboo in modern American society. Even though I believe that most of American wants congressional reform as much as it needs it, I find it practically impossible for all sides to work together to come up with a plan that would garner public support and not crush itself with its own weight. Despite the importance of the issue, I think that nothing will come out of it, at least in any of our lifetimes, despite the persistence, spirit, intelligence, hopefulness, or tact of its supporters. My sincerest apologies, Bean.