27 January 2010

A Letter from Lessig

Got this in an email today and found it necessary to share:

Last week's decision in Citizens United was an important moment in the history of our democracy. Much more important, however, is how we respond.

First -- as I wrote to you last week -- we need Congress to pass the Fair Elections Now Act. No other reform, including reforms that try effectively to reverse Citizens United, could be as important right now.

But after much reflection, I now believe that this first step is not enough. We cannot build a movement to secure fundamental reform with the constant fear that an activist Supreme Court will strike that reform down. Instead, we must establish clearly and without question the power in Congress to preserve its own institutional independence.

And we can only do that by effecting a change to our founding document -- an amendment to the Constitution.

I know this is a bold step, but bold action is what this threat to our democracy demands. If you agree with me that we must begin this process to protect our democracy, please sign our petition and spread the word to everyone you know:


I've written a longer essay explaining my decision, which you can read on our website. Right now, though, as our nation's leaders and citizens prepare to hear tonight's State of the Union address, I wanted to share my thoughts with those of you who have supported this movement so far.

Even before last week's decision, the vast majority of Americans did not believe that their government is, as our Framers intended, "dependent upon the People." The vast majority believes that the government is dependent upon money -- that money buys results in Congress.

This is corruption. And this corruption makes it harder for both Reagan Republicans and Progressive Democrats to achieve the substantive ends that they seek. Under conservative administrations in the last 30 years, Reagan Republicans have not seen the government shrink or the tax code simplified -- because Congress has no interest in smaller government or simpler taxes, as both would make it harder to raise campaign funds. And for the past year, despite the election of Barack Obama with a super-majority Democratic Congress, Progressive Democrats have watched with disgust as every substantive reform of this administration has been stymied by special interests expert in preserving the status quo.

Our single common purpose must be to end this corruption. No side in this debate has the right to demand rules that benefit them against the other. But all sides need to recognize that this corruption is destroying American democracy. We need a system that the people trust -- that gives the people a reason to participate, and convinces them that their participation is rewarded by the substantive policies that they have pursued.

Join my call for a Constitutional amendment:


Passing an amendment won't, of course, be easy. In the coming weeks, we'll tell you much more about how the amendment process works and what this amendment will say, and we'll give everyone a chance to get involved and make their voice heard.

But right now, we simply need you to join in the call -- say loudly and clearly that we need a democracy we can believe in, and we're willing to act to make it happen.

Never in our lifetime has our democracy faced a threat like this. Such a moment calls for more than mere band-aids -- it calls for fundamental reform.

Join us.

-- Lawrence Lessig

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