Solution to Congressional Gridlock and Corruption: Creative Destruction

Is Congress Too Sick to Heal? Is Something More Drastic Needed to End Gridlock?

Harvard Law Professor and recent presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig  Photo credit: Matt Billings / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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Congress might just be beyond repair and minor reforms of what was once one of the world’s greatest democratic institutions would be no more effective than pruning a dead tree.

But the scores of talking heads who have turned analyzing the dysfunctional and paralyzed government into an industry are missing the key points. What they don’t get, according to distinguished Harvard Law Professor, and onetime presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, is that Congress, the central institution of our democracy, is completely broken.

Lessig argues that it’s not broken in a way that’s easily fixable by a single election or by a new Speaker or new President. He tells WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman that it’s so infected by big money, lobbyists, gerrymandering and our modern means of campaigning that the whole thing needs to be reimagined and rebuilt. His suggestion is a surgically planned Article V Constitutional Convention to create Amendments that might actually cure the body politic.

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Related front page panorama photo credit: Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig (Lessig2016.us)

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12 responses to “Solution to Congressional Gridlock and Corruption: Creative Destruction”

  1. Kevin says:

    Also, how about the idea that both parties are essentially the same. When John Kerry ran against Dubya, both men just happened to be from the same secret society (“Skull And Bones”) that Russ Baker refers to quite a bit in ‘Family Of Secrets’. There was a college student who asked John Kerry about this while Kerry was speaking in U Florida. There’s a famous video of the results. Search “don’t tase me bro”. Fascinating stuff that this college student was tased for asking a perfectly reasonable question. If you want to see how scary this country is becoming, I recommend watching that video.

  2. Kevin says:

    Also Lessig talks about money in politics but not blackmail. You can’t overlook the fact that Americans are the most spied upon people in the history of the world. The East German Stasi would’ve killed for the info the NSA collects (and it’s actually not just on Americans).

    Research former speaker of the house Dennis Hastert and the $3.5 million in “hush money” he paid to keep someone quiet about his “prior misconduct.”. Think of the power Hastert had and how easily he could be blackmailed.

    In short, the problem is way more than about money. NSA spying and blackmail is an enormous part of the problem that cannot be ignored.

  3. Kevin says:

    I’m listening to this podcast now. Lessig talks about gerrymandering and unequal access to voting as big issues. But he conveniently leaves out the fact that the Executive branch ignores Congress (e.g. with executive orders and international treaties) and the fact that we have electronic voting machines that can be rigged (research “diebold voting fraud”).

  4. Kevin says:

    I haven’t even listened to this yet (partially because I’m very disappointed in these podcasts) but if we aren’t enforcing the current Constitution (e.g. the NDAA gives the president the power to murder American citizens on his say-so), of what use is a Constitutional Convention going to be? It’s obviously an extremely dangerous thing as our freedoms can be eliminated. You know that in a con/con, TPTB are going after the 2nd Amendment and probably even the 1st (“hate speech”, “anonymous internet speech”, etc), amongst others. Plus there will likely be a push for some sort of global warming agenda type stuff put in there (“pay your carbon taxes to big business. It’s for the planet!”)

  5. planckbrandt says:

    I don’t believe Donald Trump made the issue toxic. He is pandering to us since we are all sick of money in politics. But, he is diverting and deflecting from the real economic and financial issues we face by scapegoating. He is both pandering to us while at the same time diverting us. He is serving his own class by doing so, which is the donor class. He panders to us about money in politics because that is what we want to hear, while at the same time diverting us away from real economic and monetary issues we all face together. He serves his class by doing so. He is a member of their team pretending he is some kind of independent maverick. The RNC knew they could not so overtly scapegoat, yet scapegoating is the protocol of choice at a time like this in the process of economic collapse. So, Trump had to do the job while the others feign outrage and “protesteth” too much. The editors and news directors give him the ink and airtime. They are all working together as a team.

  6. Robert Fellmeth says:

    Lessig is correct. The media does not even discuss this seminal issue. It is only interested in insults by and to Donald Trump. Bob Fellmeth. Price Prof of Public Interest Law, univ of San Diego.

  7. philip.dennany says:

    We don’t need a convention to correct the corruption of the Supreme Court majority. We simply elect Bernie Sanders into the White House, and he will nominate good judges he knows will overturn the Citizens United injustice.

    • punkyboy says:

      At least he’ll try to appoint “good” judges – can you really imagine a Tea Party Congress confirming any of Sanders’ picks?

    • Kevin says:

      Since when do we have a “Tea Party Congress”? Do you think people like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan are “Tea Party”? If so, then TPTB have done a great job corrupting the term. Research Ron Paul if you want to understand the real “Tea Party”. I guarantee you his views are nowhere near the same as the typical Republican in Congress.

  8. Mark Meckler and The Convention of States crowd avoid calling an Article V Convention a Constitutional convention because opponents to a convention are convinced once convened it could give us a wholly different Constitution. But once again here is Harvard Law School Law Professor associating himself with the term Constitutional Convention.

    It looks more and more obvious that conservative Meckler and liberal Lessig hope to be delegates to that convention. And let the political wrangling magnify.

    God help us!

    • punkyboy says:

      Surgically planned? Not so much. I have also heard that a Constitutional Convention could not be convened for any narrow purpose, but that the whole Constitution would be open to meddling and tweaking by those who do not have our best interests at heart. This does not sound like a good idea to me, although I certainly agree that Congress as it sits today is broken almost beyond repair. One better remedy might be voting in honest people who would work for us, not for corporations, but I think I’m just whistling Dixie there. Honest people don’t have the big bucks to run a campaign, and once they got into office they would have to be an Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders to resist the temptations.

    • Ralph Crown says:

      It’s true, a convention would leave every word of the Constitution open to change. The neocons have been angling for this for years. Now they have control of most of the State legislatures, and that’s who picks the delegates. They’ll pack the convention hall and rewrite all our basic assumptions about what kind of country we have.

      If that doesn’t scare you to death, imagine your worst enemy put in charge of the country and rewriting the laws. No separation of powers, no elections, no protections from anything. We’re slowly getting there anyway, but this would end it in one fell swoop. This is a dangerous, dangerous scheme. Until then we have a prayer of improving things. Once this happens, it’s all over, fascism wins.