The ‘limping left’ may need a sip of tea

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Change Congress and activist for clean government says the anti-corruption goals of the Tea Party are admirable and that the left should work towards the same goals.

Traditional liberals will no doubt be driven batty by a prominent progressive activist like Lessig saying this, because they too often view Republicans as the ‘Source of All That is Evil’ with their own side being (mostly) blameless. But, big money and corporate interests dominate and corrupt politics in both parties, not just one.

(Read the rest of my latest for CAIVN, which was revised from a previous post here. The current firestorm of protest against TSA certainly shows that sometimes Left and Right do indeed agree on issues.)

In praise of Tea and why is the Left limping?

Lawrence Lessig, major activist of clean government and founder of Change Congress, on the reformist impulse of the Tea Party and why the left should work towards the same goals.

Many of my friends have been puzzled that I have not been a strong critic of the Tea Party. Indeed, quite the opposite, I stand as a critical admirer. That means that while I don’t share most of the substantive ends of many in that movement, and I strongly object to the extremism of some, I am a genuine admirer of the urge to reform that is at the heart of the grassroots part of this, perhaps the most important political movement in the current political context.

But if that movement is to be as central to the restoration of the American Republic as its most passionate supporters believe, then it needs to recognize that while we don’t share common ends, we do face a common enemy. Special-interest-government is anathema to both the true Right and the limping Left. Progress would be to work together to end it.

That doesn’t mean we have to be pals or even speak to each other much. Hey, Martin Luther King and Malcom X only met once, but they certainly worked towards mostly the same goals. Karl Denninger, who co-founded the Tea Party specifically to oppose the bailouts of the banksters, says:

The Tea Party was initiated as a political protest against the unlawful and in fact unconstitutional usurpation of power from the Congress and The People in the form of extortion-led bailouts of enterprises that had engaged in acts that I, and many others, believe were at least civilly actionable and in many cases crossed the line into criminal activity.

The Tea Party was and is about the the corruption of American Politics and the blatant and outrageous theft from all Americans that has resulted.

Works for me, how about you? Lessig is correct. The Tea Party is an important political movement. So rather than singling out their extremist fringe then painting it as being typical (just like the Right did during anti-Iraq war protests) instead the Left should seriously embrace their anti-corruption stance.

“The limping Left”, indeed. Liberals seem in thrall to Obama, waiting for him to do the right thing. So they don’t substantially criticize the Obama Adminstration or get in the faces of Democratic politicians who support the banksters the way the Tea Party does with Republicans. And they need to.

As for the hard Left, well, just look at Pacifica. They own five radio stations in major metro areas and used to be a genuine voice of the Left but are now disintegrating into Loony Land, at time when such a voice is most needed. The Marxist Left, now that they finally have a real life capitalist crisis to organize on, has mostly disappeared from public view. Go figure.

The Left and the Right does indeed face a common enemy. Let’s focus on that.

Lessig on how campaign cash corrupts our democracy

From the Fix Congress Now listserv

This past Friday, Lawrence Lessig presented at the TEDX Boston conference in a continued effort to bring awareness to the need to end corruption in our political system and restore democracy.

Not surprisingly, Professor Lessig’s compelling and inspirational talk is already generating some serious online buzz, attracting the attention of Americans from across the political spectrum who are beginning to recognize that until we fix this problem -namely the institutional corruption in Washington – no other problem will be fixed.

In just 18 minutes, Lessig demonstrates, in crystal clear terms, the devastating effect corporate campaign cash is having on our democracy, and in turn, our lives. Lessig makes obvious that until we as a nation take up this fundamental fight – until we strike at the root of the problem – we will continue to see our democracy crumble.

Fix Congress First

RI considers call for Constitutional Convention

Lessig in HuffPo

I just testified before the House Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island State Legislature, in support of a resolution introduced by Representative David Segal. Segal’s resolution would exercise Rhode Island’s right under the United States Constitution to demand that Congress call a convention “for proposing amendments” to the United States constitution.

It is impossible for any fair minded soul, whether Democratic or Republican, to look at the current state of the American democracy and not believe that something has gone profoundly wrong. Our framers intended a Congress “dependent upon the people alone.” We have evolved a Congress dependent upon campaign funders. That competing, and indeed corrupting, dependency has destroyed Congress’s ability to answer its first obligation fairly.

Astonishingly, the ACLU opposes such conventions, believing such weighty matters should not be in the hands of We The People but rather left to important personages like the Supreme Court and of course lawyers like themselves- those who know what’s best for us. Lessig wonders if it’s time to turn in his ACLU card. Perhaps they’ve morphed into just another corporatist non-profit.

The absurd and pathetic charade yesterday where House members promised the BP CEO would be “sliced and diced” then acted befuddled and dim while he stonewalled them demonstrates how ineffective our Congress is in the face of corporate power. The scarcely disguised bribes known as campaign contributions are a primary reason why.

Our Constitution was not made for lawyers. It was not to be trusted exclusively to judges. Yet somehow we have allowed a professional class of “civil libertarians” and judges to claim to themselves alone the right to say what our fundamental law should be. This is not just contrary to American traditions. It is destructive of democracy. The “Right of the People to alter” their government, as the Declaration of Independence declares, is “unalienable,” and even if it’s not, we certainly never alienated it to judges, or Congress alone.

Asymptotic Life adds background on how constitutional conventions works, concluding with.

Perhaps the rising anger, Left and Right, will spark some level of cooperation to address what most agree is the central problem of our democracy: money talks. Those entities that have the most speak the loudest, while the vast majority of us can barely whisper.