Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The first act of the next Congress should be The Citizen Equality Act of 2017

More on Larry Lessig today. As I noted yesterday, Lessig is (and has been for many years) making a very significant contribution to the question of our elections and how they are run. He has a new video (2.5 min) and webpage which describe The Citizen Equality Act of 2017, an act to make it easier for everyone to vote and to reduce or eliminate the influence of big money on politicians.

The ideas proposed by Lessig spring from a concept from Federalist Paper #52. That concept is that there should be a branch of government that is dependent upon the people alone. This is what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind. They did not want a legislature that was dependent upon the money from a privileged few, they wanted the legislature to be dependent upon all of us, The People.

That means 3 really big things:

  • Equal right to vote. That means that every citizens has a guaranteed right to vote. That also means automatic registration and moving election day to a public holiday so everyone has a chance to vote.
  • Equal representation. That means an end to gerrymandering so that there are no more safe seats in Congress or our statehouses.
  • Citizen funded elections. Every voter gets a voucher to use for campaign contributions or matching funds for small contributions. There would be an anti-corruption act to remove the connection between money and time in prison lying in wait for those who persist with the old way. Then we can also make sure the revolving door would be shut.

Lessig is also considering a run for president, but this late in the game, I'm not so sure that he's a viable candidate. I think he'd be great as commissioner of the Federal Election Commision in Bernie Sanders' cabinet. His ideas are sound and they build off of ideas proposed by seasoned politicians who know our elections have gone off the rails.

It's worth noting that Sanders has just introduced a bill to make Election Day a holiday. Now we get to see who would be against that idea. In the same vein, Lessig makes an interesting point. As he stated in his video, "We're putting together a package that together would create a meaningful political equality for all American citizens. That commitment to equality should not be controversial in American. But if it is, then let's have that fight on these terms. Let us defend the idea of equal citizens and let those who oppose it explain why they're against it."
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