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My Turn: The candidate who really scares the establishment

Last modified: 10/20/2015 6:27:08 AM
The most important thing to know about last Tuesday’s Democratic debate is that none of the candidates’ promises will be fulfilled unless the economic elite and organized interest groups want them to be. The same is true of promises the Republicans made at their debates.

The second thing to know is that one candidate excluded from the debate has a comprehensive, achievable plan to again make all citizens equal inside the voting booth. That candidate, Larry Lessig, wasn’t allowed to debate because he is too scary: His plan would strip power and perks not only from the Democratic and Republican establishments, but from the lobbying industry and the miniscule fraction of Americans who fund campaigns.

On a range of issues, Lessig is in synch with his leading Democratic rivals. “But unlike Clinton and Sanders and O’Malley, I’m willing to tell America the truth about these urgent and important needs,” he told Politico Magazine recently. “That truth is this: The policies that these politicians are pushing are fantasies.”

Many Americans know this in their gut, and a rigorous academic study of how things get done in Washington has proved it.

“When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy,” political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern concluded in their study published last year.

Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley all have plans for attacking the corrupting influence of money in politics, but only Lessig insists on making it issue No. 1 for the next president. He faults Barack Obama for not following through on his repeated promise in the 2008 presidential campaign to “change the way Washington works.”

“That he didn’t take up that fight then is one of the great missed opportunities of American political history,” Lessig told Politico.

“A ‘democracy’ in which 400 families give 50 percent of the money in campaigns is not American democracy,” he said. “It is a banana republic democracy. . . . It is a democracy that will be responsive to those funders only. What America needs right now is to recognize – all of America, not just the Democrats – that until we fix this democracy, none of the urgent and important policies pushed by these politicians is possible.”

Lessig has done more than anyone to force this issue into the presidential campaign. Please join me (and millions of others) in insisting that he be included in the remaining Democratic debates and by supporting his campaign and/or local groups such as the New Hampshire Rebellion, Open Democracy and the Stamp Stampede.

(Joe Magruder lives in Concord.)


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