Tag Archives: Lawrence Lessig

8 Initiatives to Fight Big Money in Politics – Part 1

According to Lawrence Lessig of Rootstrikers, the biggest obstacle that we face in fighting big money’s influence in our political system and government is not organized opposition from the other side. It is the pervasive feeling that we are powerless to change this. People think that there isn’t anything they can do to make a difference. If we think like this, nothing will ever change. There were many in the beginning who thought that the civil rights and gay rights movements in the U.S. and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa would fail. Every successful movement that has ever taken place in the world started out with many people feeling powerless to change things.

Sometimes it is a matter of not knowing what to do to effect change. In this post and the next, there will be 8 initiatives discussed in which action can be taken to reduce the influence of big money on our political system and government. National groups are leading some of these efforts. These initiatives include amending the U.S. Constitution, reforming campaign finance, placing limits on lobbying, disclosing corporate political spending, and enforcing existing campaign finance laws.

1. The American Anti-Corruption Act

One initiative is being led by Represent.us to place limits on lobbying, political donations, and PACs. The details of this initiative are encompassed in the American Anti-Corruption Act. The Act is a citizen-sponsored bill that will be introduced in Congress once one million Americans have signed up to co-sponsor the bill. Click here to read and co-sponsor the Act. Continue reading


The New Hampshire Rebellion

Last month, in January, Rootstrikers’ founder Lawrence Lessig led 200 followers from 20 states on a 185-mile march from one end of New Hampshire to the other. The march was the first of others that are planned in the state over the next 2 years by the group New Hampshire Rebellion. The objective of the group is to bring attention to the issue of money in politics and to inspire New Hampshire voters to ask all presidential candidates the question, “How will you end the system of corruption in Washington?”

There are several reasons for Lessig’s decision to target New Hampshire. New Hampshire is one of the first states to hold a primary each presidential cycle. It is important to get all presidential candidates thinking about the issue of money in politics and to get their views on the record early in the election cycle. Also, New Hampshire voters have acquired a reputation for being a well informed electorate that requires candidates to have more exposure with them, with a lot of that exposure coming from one-on-one encounters or in small group settings. Candidates wanting to win in that state have to spend a lot of time meeting with voters and discussing issues important to those voters. Continue reading

Is There Systemic Corruption in Our Government?

by Kellye

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Rootstrikers, recently posted some videos (see links below) of U.S. senators debating whether our government has been corrupted by the influence of big money. The debate centered around whether the whole system is corrupt or just the individuals themselves.

Individual cases of corruption are easy for everyone to identify and understand. The laws that are broken are spelled out. However, what about systemic corruption? Most of the time no laws have been broken. That makes it harder for everyone to see and understand the corruption that is taking place. Many politicians don’t want to admit that it exists because it implies that they too must be corrupt since they are part of the system. That is not necessarily the case. Continue reading

House Republicans Support Campaign Finance Reform

Recent movement on campaign finance reform by Republicans began with state legislatures in 2013. Republican state lawmakers from Texas to Oregon have seen a need for change. Although not as much as many would hope, some change is now making its way to the U.S. House of Representatives. There have been 3 bills introduced by Republicans in the House in recent months that would reform campaign finance.

In October, three Republican legislators (Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, and Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama) introduced a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from using political contributions received from certain types of PACs (leadership PACs) to pay for personal expenses. Another Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, went even further by introducing another piece of legislation to close the personal use loophole for political contributions from any PAC.

In November, Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisconsin) introduced the Citizens Involvement in Campaigns (CIVIC) Act. Continue reading

One Way Forward by Lawrence Lessig Part Two

by Anita

Political groups like the Tea Party Patriots and Occupy Wall Street do not have a common end, only a common enemy – corruption. It is generally legal corruption, in which money indirectly buys power in the government. It affects all political groups, and prevents us from reaching our goals.

Lessig quotes Henry David Thoreau: “[t]here are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” This is the origin of the name of Lessig’s group called Rootstrikers.

The “root” is the role that money plays in our government – specifically, the money from a very small part of America. Only 0.26% of Americans give more than $200 to congressional campaigns, and 0.01% spend more than $10,000 in a campaign cycle. Because of the enormous role of campaign contributions, the government is accountable to rich individuals (and corporations) rather than to “the People” as the Framers meant it to be. Continue reading

One Way Forward by Lawrence Lessig Part One

by Anita

Lawrence Lessig is a law professor at Harvard University and a proponent of a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United. He has founded several organizations to support his cause of getting money out of politics, including Rootstrikers. In 2011, Lessig published Republic, Lost – How Money Corrupts Congress, and a Plan to Stop It. This was followed in 2012 with a shorter, more streamlined work, One Way Forward – the Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic. Since I recently read One Way Forward, I decided to share some of the main ideas in the book; this will be a two-part series to allow space for a more extensive discussion.

Lessig believes that “We the People” hold an immense power given to us by the Constitution, but it is a sleeping giant that is only awakened in a crisis. For example, in 1998, two software developers started an email list to encourage “moving on” and getting back to the business of government when those in Congress were obsessed with the Clinton sex scandal. The movement grew exponentially and became MoveOn.org. This is “crowd-sourced politics.” Continue reading