Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard Law professor, spoke on NPR last week. He has written a critically acclaimed book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It.
(Here is the link to the NPR segment: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201110251000)
I feel like between Lawrence Lessig, Bill Moyers, and Chris Hedges, I’m finally getting some company.
Lessig pointed out, correctly, that Washington has a dependency problem and is in need of an intervention! My book, Intervention On America: A How-to Manual for Getting America Into Recovery and Replacing All Federally Elected Officials in The Fall of 2012, says the same thing.
We are both saying that America needs an intervention. Our nation resembles an alcoholic family. The 1%, Congress, President Obama, and the hyper-wealthy, are behaving like alcoholics, and they are enabled by the codependents, you and me (the ones I call the Clueless Enablers). I suggest in my book that perhaps 20% of us understand that our environment and democracy are in dire straits. I suggest that our country is on the Titanic, but that perhaps 20% of Americans (sane, grown up Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) could peacefully go to the streets like Gandhi did, and bring us sanity. (If the sane voters actually stood up, there would be 40 million people bringing attention to our crisis.)
We in California are asleep. All over America, oil companies and their government enablers are showing up with large equipment to frack the earth and extract oil. They are, bit by bit, blowing up the planet in a desperate attempt to find more carbon to burn. Imagine a government that starts injecting chemicals into the aquifers of Marin or Sonoma or Mendocino. Our fellow citizens in New York and Pennsylvania and many other places are being inundated by this latest quest to find more oil to keep “economic growth” expanding.
I am running for Congress as a Democrat, but President Obama disgusts me, although not as much as the Republicans, who I believe are insane, so much so that I weep.
We have wondered why school children are fed fat, salt, and sugar. We are only now waking up to the reality that six multinational corporations have bought Washington and peddle their “food” to an increasingly obese population. We Clueless Enablers are unable to see how you and I have been “hooked” by Congress’s “social food engineering.”
Bill Moyers has also been calling for an intervention.
“Moyers: Meet the Shameless Plutocrats Choking What’s Left of Our Democracy.”
February 14, 2012. Here is the link: http://www.alternet.org/economy/154137/moyers%3A_meet_the_shameless_plutocrats_choking_what’s_left_of_our_democracy
“Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia flounder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.
“We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.”
And when I read Chris Hedges I get the sense that he is saying that we are in for a complete collapse and global crisis – Greece is coming to America.
I fear that if the far right gets its way, we will have a downward spiral toward a Taliban, Sharia Law, and a religiosity backed by God and guns. And I fear that if the far left gets its way, it will destroy capitalism and lead to its own awful outcome. And America is getting more polarized, every year.
We really do need the sane center to stand up. This is not a left/right problem. Thinking that Obama or the left is better than the right is, I believe, insane. The answer is not a conservative vs. liberal problem. That kind of thinking is like the co-dependent hiding the alcoholic’s bottles!
The problem is systemic and the Titanic is an apt metaphor. My opponents running for Lynn Woolsey’s seat all seem like good, honorable people, but I think that they, too, have drunk the kool-aid.
Lawrence Lessig says that we need to do a re-boot. He proposes that we move to public financing and that candidates running for office receive no money from any source except other individuals and then only $100. This is my stance. I have “unilaterally disarmed” and I call for all politicians and candidates to do the same.
This is my pledge:
The Money Out of Politics Pledge
“I agree to accept no money from any corporation, lobby, PAC or entity other than a person, and I agree to accept no more than $100 from any individual.”
Lessig points out that it is only the top 20% of the top 1% who will donate more than $200 dollars. I know of no candidate or federally elected official who is not getting most of their money from the 1%, and it is exactly this practice that leads to good people going to Washington and becoming part of the unethical, corrupt, and America-destroying crisis we are in. It is, and always has been, unethical to accept any money from anyone we may need to regulate or legislate. It is a conflict of interests and a dual relationship. It is wrong. Plain and simple. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not believe that any of the sitting Senators and Representatives, or any of the candidates who are my opponents, have pledged to take no money from any source in Washington other than from the federal government which issues a very generous salary and benefits.
(I have to wonder if Lynn Woolsey’s vote on improving school lunches might have been swayed by the $5,000 she took from the Sugar Industry.)
I do not want to go to Washington and hang out with those arrogant, corrupt (mostly) old, white men. Their addiction to money and power, and their disregard for this amazing and fragile experiment called democracy, disgusts me. But this is like World War II. We all have to pitch in. I am willing to give up an amazing life and an amazing business with amazing people because, well, because I don’t think I have a choice.
I am hoping that enough like-minded people are out there—some running for office as I am, in other districts, and some just willing to go out and vote for those of us taking this pledge. Really, all we need is 20%. 20% can sway this thing. But we have to believe we can make a difference in order to make a difference.