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Monday, October 24, 2016

Political activist and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is taking a leap into the political money game, with the specific intention of reforming campaign finance laws by 2016.

On Thursday, May 1, Lessig launched the MAYDAY Citizens’ SuperPAC, a Political Action Committee that will seek contributions from small donors concerned with putting an end to America’s slide toward plutocracy.

“The ultimate aim is to spend enough to win a majority in Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We’ve spent the last year gaming out how much that would cost. I think it is feasible and possible — if we can take these first steps successfully now,” Lessig wrote about the project on his blog.

The project will be funded similar to a Kickstarter campaign: Lessig claims if small contributions total $1 million after one month, a large donor will match the amount. If the PAC raises $5 million in the following month, another wealthy donor will match that amount. The small donors will only be charged if the goals are hit.

It’s a leap, Lessig admits, but it’s a political cause with near-universal appeal. In fact, Lessig is counting on small donations from across the political spectrum. “Our polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans believe it’s important to reduce the influence of money in politics,” Lessig recently told Moyers and Company. “And that’s true for Republicans as much as Democrats and Independents. This is just a universal view.”

Lessig’s commitment to align America’s left and right on this issue has been a constant throughout his career. Lessig, who serves on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation, was also a strong supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. In 2011, prior to the first tents being pitched in Zuccotti Park, Lessig penned what The Atlantic called the movement’s “handbook”: Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It. As a shock to the leftist “Occupy” movement, in December 2011 Lessig called for Occupy Wall Street to join forces with the Tea Party

“Those people have the same recognition of corruption in the system,” he said. “Think a few steps ahead and build the movement that could change America.”

Today, Lessig is optimistic about the influence his new project can have on U.S. elections.

“It is impossibly hard to imagine raising $1 million in 30 days, even as a contingent commitment (meaning, you only get charged if we hit the goal),” Lessig wrote. “I get that. But we’ve got to try. For if we succeed, we can change the story of this democracy; we can give people a sense that we can actually claim it back. And we can build a momentum, I believe, that no billionaire’s SuperPAC could defeat.”

Photo: Joi Ito via Flickr 

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  • sigrid28

    The best news ever! Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans should get behind this well-planned strategy to save fresh water and clean air while there is still time, especially elite Democrats.

    There is something to be said for elite Democrats providing matching funds in response to a show of support by the 98%, though many traditional Democratic voters can hardly make ends meet, among them students, the elderly, and minorities in urban areas. Why not provide a means for those without monetary resources to participate instead via sophisticated volunteer activities, like the phone bank on Barack, which helped bring in swing states in 2012? It is possible that the two-step part of this financial structure, like call-and-response in the gospel music tradition, may be a courtesy progressives cannot afford if Democrats are to win key elections in 2014. Our opponents are not so polite and have been shouting us down in the media for years. Besides, it’s not as if we have to gather a consensus on our side.

    Elite Democrats have among them and at their disposal media consultants (especially artists of the highest caliber in all of the communication arts) capable of tearing to pieces the clumsy propaganda created by right-wing apologists for policies that destroy the environment not to mention legislation harmful to women, minorities, and those dependent on the social safety net. Well-heeled celebrities like good publicity. Let them enjoy fame for promoting Lessig’s MAYDAY Citizens’ SuperPAC, whether on the airwaves or in the court of public opinion. Why not get right to work instead of waiting for small donations to trickle in, if the cause so urgent?

  • Mark Forsyth

    This is an absolutely GREAT IDEA.How long have we American Citizens been divided over every issue imaginable? It takes little effort to see what it is that divides us as Americans these days,but we must seek out and promote those things that will bring us together on common ground with common interests.The survival of our democracy demands it.
    I am not rich and I have small income,but I am going to make my best investment that I can in the country I love,my country,and your country too.I promise to pledge $50 dollars,one dollar for each state in The Union.I know it is a small dollar amount but it is something I can do.If we all do what we can,then we will prevail against the big dark money that corrupts our government.Who will join me? I know that we are the people and we all are worth the investment.America is worth OUR investment.

    • sigrid28

      A dollar for each state: another great idea in my book.

      • Mark Forsyth

        Thanks Sigrid.I think it’s doable for most folks and doesn’t break the bank.As you mentioned,there are other avenues for those who simply can’t make a donation, to participate.

  • charles king

    This guy Lessig is talking the same thing the Plutocracts are doing using MONIES to buy your Vote. People your Vote is still Supreme along with your (Critical Thinking) we can solve this type of governing that been going on in the South against Black Americans. Tend to your Democracy and know Who? is running the affraids of your Country, BEWARE of (Capitalistic Pigs, Plutocracts, Representives Republicans Democracts Do Nothingiers Etc.) You know Who? they are, kick them out of office. Your Vote used wisely is the best political move for America and your Democracy. Thank You are the magic words in my book. Love Ya All. Mr. C. E KiNG

    • Mark Forsyth

      Charles,the Supreme Court changed the game rules with their Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings.Consider this a case of fighting fire with fire.It is designed to bring people together with the purpose of passing legislation that would remove the “dark money” corporate influence on our elections.The contributions to this Peoples PAC would be open to public review instead of being secretly donated by unidentified entities such as what the big corporations receive and donate.

      • charles king

        I do not give a dollar to any politician, I did not put a dime of my money to President Obama relection but I put in a whole year canvassing for him and I bet in my area out of (5000) votes only 34 went to Rhoney. I tell people now do some critical thinking and know What? and Why? are these vermins coming from and Who? are these people and How? are they going to do What? they say they are going to do. The VOTE is still KING and knowing Where? your Democracy is and I am sure you will do the right thing. Your goverrnment, protect your Democracy, Your Unions keep you aware of your Democracy. Plutocracy and MONIES are trying to privatize the public Assets and charge your tax dollars for managing your Assets. Wake up people it all belong to all the People Not some people. Think about it . Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING

  • dana becker

    Another thing the People should have is a dedicated investigative team to combat the bullshit and the lies these politicians spew at every opportunity. And the media who parrot those lies need to be called on those lies. I would like to see it on the IRS form when filing returns like they ask if you want to donate a dollar to the Presidential election fund instead asking if you want to donate a buck to combat the lies in elections.

    These so called Christian politicians don’t mind breaking the commandments when they lie do they?