Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig has a new article in The Nation entitled "How to Get Our Democracy Back." In the piece he challenges both the Right and the Left on the ineffective means to create real change in this country. Attempts to shrink government by conservatives or to reform government by liberals have been useless because the underlining problem has not been addressed: the power of corporate lobbies that control policy.
In an earlier post (see: The Shadow of Scientific Opinion) I quoted the education reformer and philosopher John Dewey:
[P]olitics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.
There is a growing consensus by both sides of the political spectrum that our current governmental system is broken. By taking this dirty money out of Congress it would do far more for democracy than mere reforms or reducing the size of government could ever accomplish. For more see FixCongressFirst.org.
I completely agree. The problem is, how do you fix it? It's not as simple as banning corporate lobbies. If you did, you have to allow special interest groups right? So why can't a company, through some citizens, set up a special interest group for them? As long as people can pay money to place ads and people will donate to politicians to place those ads, you really can't block companies because there will always be some loophole were people act on behalf of the company.
The only way to fix things is for the people to actually care. If ad money didn't determine the winner 95% of the time, and instead people make their votes based on facts and research, democracy (kind of) would work great. I'm pessimistic though because I think that's an unreasonable request. People simply don't have the knowledge to tell the truth from bull and politicians get along by being able to sell their bull.
I'm afraid this is inevitable, will only get worse, and will lead to the system's demise. I'm not meaning to bash democracy exactly. Other systems that rely on less people in power will become corrupt much faster. But corruption slowly seeps into democracy. People become complacent, give more an more power to the politicians, and you end up where we are at.
Any chance of getting our republic back?