Lawrence Lessig on how to bring about real political change

Harvard Professor and co-founder of Change Congress, Lawrence Lessig, decided to mark the occasion of Obama’s first year in office with a brief lecture on what went wrong, and why. If you have seven minutes, I’d recommend watching it.

And he’s absolutely right… until we deal with the underlying problem – that our members of Congress are, in our current system, more dependent on corporations than their constituents – we’ll never make real, significant change. We have to take money out of politics.

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  1. Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    The person who brought this to my attention also mentioned the following.

    Next Monday, the Supreme Court is likely to rule on the case Citizens United v. FEC – which may well make the problem worse by giving corporate and special interest money even more influence in American elections.

  2. Josh
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    i’m glad i’ve got another political viewpoint besides the daily show. thanks for posting this.

  3. Stephen R
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    There’s a big, wide world outside the Daily Show, Josh. Enjoy!

  4. Edward
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The Supreme Court decision came today.

    Breaking news from CNN:

    — Supreme Court rules 5-4 to ease restrictions on spending by corporations and unions in political campaigns.

  5. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Corporations are people!!! Corporations are people!!! Now they can go to jail for breaking the law like people!

    Oh yeah, they don’t. They just get to spend money to buy elections. Nevermind. We’re screwed.

  6. Stephen
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    They are not human. They are better than human. They are gods. They provide jobs and should be able to do whatever in the hell that they like. They are the ones who risk everything. They are the ones who create value in this society. We are nothing without corporations.

  7. kjc
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Stephen’s right. It’s called liberty.

  8. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused. Is that meta-sarcasm?

  9. Robert
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Why blame Obama? Is he expected to fill in for tens of millions of under-interested, under-involved citizens? It seems pretty apparent that the masses can’t just appoint somebody to do what is their duty as citizens. It’s absurd that people would expect to do little more than get a guy in office and believe from that they would have the reforms they want. Then when they don’t get what they want to complain as if the problem isn’t them is just staggering in its absurdity.

    Government does what the interests which apply the most and most consistent pressure want. It’s that simple. You can elect anyone you want and it will make almost no difference if you don’t back it up with constant, ongoing and overwhelming pressure. Put an angelic genius in the White House and see how much good it does if huge numbers of you don’t also get off your asses and back that person up.

    On top of that, the masses are ridiculously easy to manipulate. So, even if a large number of us did find within ourselves the will and motivation to act, it would just be too easy to deflect and distract the vast majority, as it always is.

    People just seem so clueless about all this. They’d rather sit around intellectualizing about why Obama and his handful of appointees don’t do certain things, than simply get up off their asses and MAKE them do those things.

    That’s one of the problems with riding into power on a wave of fleeting interest from masses of people who are generally the least interested and least motivated. That wave breaks far short of its expressed goals. It runs out of gas quick.

    In the 50’s and 60’s when a majority of Americans were sympathetic to the notion that all citizens should have equal rights regardless of race, it made very little difference to have men of good will and intelligence, who agreed with those notions, in the offices of power. No, it was instead the actions of thousands, even millions of ordinary Americans which pressed the issue enough so that things would finally be done. And even then the process was slow and painful, and there were many casualties along the way.

    Recent generations have become complacent, and expect to be catered to. They need to learn. Government is not your friend. It is not something that could ever be your friend. It is something you either control or it controls you. It is a mindless beast, and it’s a wild and dangerous one at that. It must be shackled at all times. You can put a sweeter, kinder face on it, but that doesn’t change its nature. It is the representation of the collective will of those who assert themselves upon it, as well as it is the representation of our collective failings as human beings living in a society.

    Government is in many ways the physical manifestation of ALL our failings as human beings. Our inabilities to always respect one another’s rights as we would want our own respected, to uphold our responsibilities towards one another at all times, to think about and consider the interests of the society as a whole.

    Government is a beast that does what those who hold its shackles direct it to do. If you think you can just throw some nice person on its back and expect them to tame it while you walk away and go about your business, you’re going to be sorely disappointed in what you find when you return.

  10. Peter Larson
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Mark gave me a piece of tape today.

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  1. By Corporations given the green light to buy elections on January 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    […] night, I posted a video here by Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig about the importance of getting corporate money out of […]

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