On November 17th, UCLA hosted a Money Out, Voters In conference. Among the speakers was Professor Lessig,
professor of law at Harvard, constitutional scholar and activist. He is the author of several books including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It. His activist organization is called Root Strikers, “a network of activists fighting the corrupting influence of money in politics.” This recording is forty two minutes long, but it is the best time spent watching an online video any concerned citizen can spend.
We at The Amendment Gazette cannot recommend, strongly enough, Lessig’s arguments for a “cross-partisan” approach to ending corruption. Our system, our Republic, is indeed thoroughly corrupted by money, and we fully recognize that amending the Constitution to overturn the corrupt Citizens United decision will be just one, and certainly not the first, step required on a journey of active citizens to save our American Republic.
A progressive movement?
There is one word that Professor Lessig used to describe this movement that undermines his message of unity, of avoiding divisiveness. That word is “progressive.” In the spectrum of ideologies, progressivism is to the left. It invokes progressive taxation, regulation of businesses and breaking up of “too big to fail,” i.e. “trust-busting.” Some propagandists on the right (Fox News and “conservative” talk radio hosts) smear “progressives” as “far left.” Unfortunately, too many gullible voters believe this notion that progressive is synonymous with “socialism” or even “communism.” The cited Tea Party believes this by and large, in part because the reactionary propagandist Glenn Beck refers to progressivism as a “cancer” in America and associates it with communism.
Despite the fact that this movement has been embraced by progressives, including the whole of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, “progressive” may not be the right word anyway. We have argued that principled conservatives should embrace the abolition of corporate constitutional rights. Another argument can be made that overturning 132 years of corrupt Supreme Court decisions that have granted corporations the rights they abuse is reactionary (regressing law to 19th Century standards). This movement is also reform (“liberal“) oriented, and yes, it has been embraced mostly, at this point, by progressives.
Lessig’s arguments for a “cross-partisan” approach to ending the corruption in a government of the funders, by the funders and for the funders should be coupled with a trans-ideological argument. Avoiding tagging this movement as “progressive” will help stunt the corporate propaganda once the right-wing echo chamber is instructed by the corporate elite and plutocrats to take this movement seriously and undermine it.
“…a Republic, if you can keep it.”
What label would be most appropriate to define our efforts to end the legal corruptions that Professor Lessig aptly describes? “Republican” with a small r would make sense but would be misunderstood by Democrats and rejected by many radicals. Democratic with a small d has the same problem except it would be rejected by many reactionaries. ”Abolitionist” makes sense for the reversal of corporate constitutional rights, but that is a small but significant part of this overall corruption Lessig (and the movement) seeks to end. ”Anti-corruption” is a trans-ideological word that voters of all stripes can embrace, but it invokes the brown bag of money that is already illegal.
Either we find a trans-ideological tag for this movement, or we risk failure of ratification because some of the required 38 states are “red” states. Failure in Congress is more likely when a super-majority in the Senate is needed to pass anti-corruption legislation. “Money out, voters in.” That’s a great phase that concurs with our demand to our representatives: “Stop fundraising. Start legislating.” What trans-ideological word aptly describes those slogans? One definition of corruption is “perversion of integrity.” Instead of defining this movement as “progressive,” i.e., leftist, perhaps Professor Lessig and the rest of us in this movement should start calling it the integrity movement or the integrity in government movement. What propagandist could undermine integrity in government and be taken seriously by anyone?