TEDxMidAtlantic- Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here’s how we fix it- Larry Lessig

Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig makes the case that our democracy has become corrupt with money, leading to inequality that means only 0.02% of the United States population actually determines who’s in power. Lessig says that this fundamental breakdown of the democratic system must be fixed before we will ever be able to address major challenges.

William Tweed- “I dont care who does the electing, as long as I get to do the nominating”

If you control the nomination, every candidate is going to worry what you the NOMINATOR THINKS, so you practically control the candidate whether or not you control the ultimate election. “Genius theory for destroying democracy”.

1923 in Texas: By law, in the democratic primary, only whites could vote. Blacks could vote in the general election(if they could even register as it was tough back then). Back then, the only party that mattered was the democratic party in texas. Blacks(16% of population) we’re excluded. We all look at this and think to ourselves, there’s something obviously wrong with this.

Basically money is heavily involved in politics, and politicians press the right buttons to work the system to get elected/nominated. “shape shifters”- they constantly adjust by whatever means necessary.

“Green Primary”- The first step is essentially get money for campaign.

in 2014, the top 100 funders gave as much as the bottom 4.75 million funders(corporations vs people)

How much do you need to give to be relevant? To matter? These people “maxed out”- $5200 to 1 candidate. in 2014- 57,874 people did. thats .02% of the population. A tiny fraction of 1%- Basically wealthy people nominate people based on their financial contribution, then the 99.98% remaining of the country gets to vote.

“When the preferences of the economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average american appear to have only a minuscule, net-zero. statistically non-significant impact upon public policy in a democracy”

We’re told that we are citizens “driving the bus”, but the reality is the steering wheel has become detached from the bus. We dont drive the bus, we just sit in it. This is corruption, representing our democracy. It’s not criminals, its a system.

This is caused by a basic inequality that we’ve allowed to evolve inside our representative system.

George Orwell- “all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

What if we could remove this inequality? Then we could crack the corruption. We could achieve a system dependent based on the people alone, not the wealthy elites.

Let’s call it the “citizen equality act”

  1. Change the way campaigns are funded.- Take big money out!
  2. Equal Representation- This is a system where the politicians are picking the voters, the voters aren’t picking the politicians. Only 90 seats in the house are competitive, the rest of 345 remain safe to either 2 of the parties. This means 89 million Americans are not represented in this system due to the structure of the system! wowowow! This is inequality.
  3. The equal freedom to vote- The current system makes it extremely difficult for some to vote. This is not accidental. last election, 10 million people had to wait more than 30 minutes to vote. Might not seem like alot, but if you’re a working family, who cant afford to take off etc, its just not right. This is strongly correlated with race, party. Voting day should BE A HOLIDAY where everyone is off work and can vote.

Why? We will get nothing from our government until we get this.

54 years ago, Martin Luther King gave a speech- “america is essentially a dream, the substance of the dream is expressed in these sublime words, words lifted to cosmic proportions:that all are created equal.”

The reality is, we are NOT equal in america today. We do have 2nd class citizens in this country. We need to learn from our brothers and sisters 50 years ago, who risked their lives to fight for equality, to love for equality, to sacrifice for equality. If we don’t, how would we look at our children, who look back at us and say: Look at what you inherited, and then squandered.

I feel like I already knew this was going on, but after watching this TED talk  am a bit more woke than I previous was. Although I am not a very political person, at least I now have a better understanding of how the system works. I hope you do too.





Author: Kris

Hi my name is Kris, and I am addicted to personal development, and the word DETERMINATION! :) and BRENÉ BROWN!!! And BRIAN JOHNSON!!! Aaaaaaaand WOOOO!!!! 142.

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