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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/5/19

American democracy is broken. We must demand 2020 candidates commit to a fix

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Message Lawrence Lessig

From The Guardian

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Nancy Pelosi's HR1 bill is an important start but the key to tackling a broken system is a president committed to fundamental reform

Potential 2020 Democratic contenders
Potential 2020 Democratic contenders
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The wires were abuzz last week with news that the presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was returning $30,000 in contributions from lobbyists. He has now joined many other Democratic candidates in swearing off particular kinds of money, whether from corporate Pacs or lobbyists. Since Beto O'Rourke launched his campaign for Senate in 2017, this type of reform-through-abstinence has become a single metric for whether a candidate is a reformer for democracy. If you don't give up corporate cash, then you can't be for us.

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But this is an odd and fake measure of reform. The important question is not how you get elected, but what your fundamental commitment is if you are elected. Money from Pacs and lobbyists is actually among the most moderate, and least polarizing of the money in American politics today. Removing it alone won't fix democracy. And this obsession with where the money comes from obscures the real questions about what type of reformer a candidate would be.

Here, and perhaps surprisingly, given that she is among the most successful political fundraisers in America today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set the only meaningful bar. HR1, the reform package that she passed in the House, was extraordinary, not just because of the incredible range of reform packed into that single bill from campaign finance to gerrymandering, to a commitment to automatic voter registration and a restoration of the Voting Rights Act. It was also extraordinary because it recognized that reform must happen first. "Fix democracy first" has become the slogan of many in this movement. And the essential question that we should be asking candidates now is not whether their campaign cash is pure, but whether their commitment to fixing democracy is real.

And here, there is an interesting division opening up among the Democrats. The New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand upped the ante this week, introducing the most ambitious program to change the way campaigns are funded in 50 years. If enacted, the law would give every voter "democracy dollars" to use to help fund campaigns. Those dollars would radically change the pattern of fundraising for candidates in Congress. As the experience in Seattle has shown, vouchers expand dramatically the range of citizens participating in the funding of campaigns. It shifts dramatically the source of those funds, from out-of-district funders to the representatives' own constituents. Andrew Yang has proposed a similar idea, though not as ambitious as Gillibrand's. Yet so far, wannabe reformers such as Elizabeth Warren have been silent about how they would change the way campaigns are funded.

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Yet even more important than the details of these programs may be the priority. The South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, told Trevor Noah that reform "like HR 1" would be a "day one" priority for his administration. Andrew Yang "amended" his platform to make "fixing democracy" the first thing that he would do as president. So too did Warren tell Chris Hayes that "anti-corruption reform" would be the first thing her administration would take up. Marianne Williamson has said the same. So too has Gillibrand.

This is the real standard that reformers should be insisting upon, not HR1, but a Potus 1 that is as ambitious, or maybe even more. The next president should follow the lead of Nancy Pelosi and commit to making reform fundamental. He or she should then explain to us what that fundamental reform will include. And we, in turn, should measure the candidates according to the effect that their "day one" commitment would achieve.

Because this is the real potential of this election cycle. Though the commitment is not believable any more, we should remember that Donald Trump had attacked the very same corruption in 2015. "Drain the swamp" was the rallying call for many who supported the president. If the Democrats make fundamental reform a "day one" commitment in the next administration, there is at least a chance that that commitment might help rally reformers among Republicans as well.

This is the one issue that America is united about. We should at least find a way to talk about it that actually promises something real.

 

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Lawrence Lessig Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Co-founder of Change Congress
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Devil's Advocate

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"Money from Pacs and lobbyists is actually among the most moderate, and least polarizing of the money in American politics today. Removing it alone won't fix democracy."

This piece seems to dismiss the obvious impact of corporate campaign contributions, while over-promoting the idea that these politicians can be expected to "commit" to things that go against the wishes of the donor class that gave their "generous support".

Submitted on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 10:38:36 PM

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Dennis Kaiser

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Right on! We need someone to come in to bring back Democracy (I know, there are those who will tell me we never had a Democracy, but the Democratic Republic, yet that was much closer to what we have now.

Of the candidates presently campaigning we have many arm wavers and droppers of words such as "single-payer", "Medicare for all", anti-Trump, etc., and doubling down on the policies in place now. The bottom line on that is they are content with merely moving on without Trump which leaves nothing for the 99% who are struggling, an infrastructure which is collapsing, more incarcerations the private prison industry, and more beggars with their hands out while they occupy their seats in Congress so they can continue the downward spiral our nation has been in.

That said, a good barometer of who NOT to vote for would be if the DNC is backing them or not attempting to block them run as fast as you can.

That leaves only two candidates who the DNC sees as actually working to make changes and who have the stamina to do so. Those two are Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. Most know of Sanders and what he is for, but few have any knowledge of Gabbard who actually showed her strength by resigning as Vice-Chair of the DNC in 2016 because of how they were illegally working against Sanders. That showed a strength of character as most would have remained still and simply moved up to be Chair of the clown show. She stood up for what is right rather than self-rewards. She is also for no more regimes change illegal invasions, using the $Trillions saved and investing in infrastructure, education, healthcare, a more positive foreign relations, in other words making our nation stronger rather than weaker as a bully is typically viewed.

That said we need change, not simply from Trump, but from the policies of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Reagan. Following the DNC choices would merely be following in the footsteps of those in our recent past. We need change, NOW.

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 10:30:51 AM

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David Pear

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Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard! If only they would run in a third party.


Full Tulsi Gabbard Interview with Jimmy Dore TulsiGabbard #Gabbard2020 #Tulsi2020 #peace #nomorewars #GreenNewDeal #MedicareforAll #JimmyDore Tulsi Gabbard is running for president so here is ...
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Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 12:14:14 PM

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nelswight

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We BEGIN TO GET A GRASP OF THIS,


tO LEARN MORE i MIGHT SUGGEST READING

a bit of our own JOHN rachel'S CAMPAIGN REFORM

as well as

#UNRIG (Robert David Steele)

Submitted on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 12:18:30 PM

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John Rachel

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Whatever ... like a presidential candidate will 1) commit to this, 2) will do it when elected, or even 3) can fix our broken democracy when elected as if he/she along possesses some magic wand.

HERE is how we fix the system.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 4:28:13 AM

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For many years I have said both Republican and Democrat parties have succumbed to big money corporate interests. I have publicized polls that clearly show that congress is not listening to We the People but corporate interests. I voted for Green party candidates whenever possible.


The newly elected "progressive" democrats may bring me back to the Democrat party (with their green new deal, Medicare for all, and HR1 initiatives). That being said, if I find a candidate is accepting big money from the fossil fuel industry or big pharma and health insurance industries I would not believe they would act to cut fossil fuel use or support Medicare for All no matter what they say in public. By their acts you can know them.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 2:44:02 PM

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Philip Pease

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For many years I have said both Republican and Democrat parties have succumbed to big money corporate interests. I have publicized polls that clearly show that congress is not listening to We the People but corporate interests. I voted for Green party candidates whenever possible.


The newly elected "progressive" democrats may bring me back to the Democrat party (with their green new deal, Medicare for all, and HR1 initiatives). That being said, if I find a candidate is accepting big money from the fossil fuel industry or big pharma and health insurance industries I would not believe they would act to cut fossil fuel use or support Medicare for All no matter what they say in public. By their acts you can know them.

Submitted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 2:44:13 PM

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