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What lessons can we learn from history that we can use to create a grass root movement to "reclaim the Republic"?

What lessons can we take from the Arab Spring, the Women's Suffrage and the Civil Rights movements (or any other peaceful revolutions) that we can use today to start a movement to reform campaign funding and elections in the US as related on Lawrence Lessig's talk?

There are incredible obstacles to implementing any solution that will challenge the inequalities built into the US government associated with the influence of money. The people now favored by the system have every incentive to prevent any changes. At the same time, apathy, cynicism and ignorance in the general population are formidable barriers.

Historical movement dealt with many of those barriers. How did they get it done? What has to happen for the movement to get started and to grow to be an undeniable force? The occupy Wall Street lacked direction. Could this be the direction that they needed to be successful? the clear cause to get behind?

  • Apr 12 2013: The lessons of history that come immediately to mind are that in authentic movements, people are willing to sacrifice their own short term self interests in the cause of making a better world for future generations. The Arab Spring, the US Civil Rights movement and India's independence movement were non-violent only on one side. Often agents of change were subjected to beatings and much worse. In each case their moral superiority eventually drew numbers to their side. This is in contrast to the Occupy movement, which degenerated quickly into people wanting the government to give them stuff. I'm not saying that anyone should get beat up in our political process. I'm saying that at some point there must be a sense that the greatest nation in the history of human governance is on the line, and that we need to give that priority over our short term self-interests. If anyone really wants to find common ground on a grassroots issue, this is it. Does anyone outside the beltway belive our liberty and prosperity over the long haul are well served by a small cadre of insiders that can buy and sell elected officials at will? It will be a long slow hike toward reform, but so were all the other great reform movements. Mr. Lessig is presenting an idea that needs to be talked about at every opportunity.
  • Apr 16 2013: It also would not have happened If the corruption in our government that causes it to mostly represent the moneyed special interests rather than the citizens, was removed. What did you think of the American Anti-Corruption ACT?
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    Apr 15 2013: The people cannot oppose the powers that be without being politically oppressed. By opposing we can only make leadership into enemies, something we do not want. I suggest that if the people were to make their will known, enmass, those seeking election would change their ways very quickly, without demonstarions and without bloodshed.

    The great country of America is peopled by a huge majority of decent, intelligent, hard working busy men and women, that only need a way to speak as one. Direct democracy is one solution. Check out my viewpoint in the TED conversation string titled "A Practical Political solution."
    • Apr 16 2013: David, direct democracy may be practical from a technical perspective but I do not think it is practical from a issues perspective. The majority of issues require far too much domain knowledge. For example, I do not have enough knowledge to know what is the best way to improve our healthcare system and I certainly do not have the time to study the situation and make an educated decision/vote. There are easily 1000s of issues like this that are beyond the average citizen knowledge and capacity to learn boundaries.

      Please look at and the American Anti-Corruption ACT. It get's us about a 75% solution, with a constitutional amendment to overturn Buckley/Citizens United as the other 25%.
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        Apr 16 2013: Direct democracy does not necessarily mean that the voters have to learn all the details of the issue at hand. Relevant details could be supplied to them as easily as they are supplied to representatives under the current system.

        The Swiss version of DD allows the voters to question and even overturn legislative decisions and there are no secret agendas. This alone would be a major improvement in the current system of an elected, untouchable monarchy that can arbitrarily send the nation to war without the input of the voters, or make deals with big businesses to the detriment of the general population.

        It's easier to let the reps make decisions on our behalf, but that can only work if they can be controlled by those who elected them. Would Iraq have happened if the voters had veto power over the administration? I don't think so.
  • Apr 13 2013: We need leadership. I think a lot of us would participate if someone started the movement.
  • Apr 11 2013: @ Pat,

    I listened to the first part of the link you attached. I am curious about where in the evolution of democracy the US is: do you believe that
    1) the US Democracy is evolving into a purer form,
    2) the US Democracy is in "political decay," or
    3) the US Democracy has already been lost?

    I grew up in Mexico where the government was an oppressor, a bully. Democracy was an act/ a mirage. I envied US citizens because they had a government that worked for them. However, in the 2 + decades that I have lived in the US, I have noticed that the US is moving more and more towards an oppressive government that does not answer to anyone but to the people with money and influence. For instance, we have seen the bailout, the Patriot Act, and tons of laws written by lobbyist that go against the best interest of the public.

    Has the US system been always like that? Are we experiencing the best form of democracy this country has seen? If we lose our democracy, will it take centuries to get it back?
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      Apr 15 2013: As I see it, a real democracy can only be a country that is ruled by the people, for the people, not by the few, for the few. Direct democracy is now possible via the internet. It's necessary.
    • Apr 16 2013: Via campaign contributions, lobbyist contributions, Super PACs and Independent Expenditures the funders, the moneyed special interests such as Unions, Corporations, and the wealthiest people, determine to a great extent:

      • Who we vote for – candidates must win the money (funder) vote first in order to get to the general election
      • What the elected officials do when they get to office –repay their “debt” and or secure future funds by protecting and expanding the funder’s profit privileges, i.e. welfare for the rich via tax breaks and anti-competitive, sweetheart legislation

      This is the US political system today. Our elected officials are mostly dependent on the funders, and not the people. Objectively it’s not a democracy anymore. The accurate definition is plutocracy - rule by the extremely wealthy for the benefit of the extremely wealthy.
    • Apr 16 2013: Restoring or democracy requires us to take two steps

      Step A) Legislative solution with two objectives:
      (1) A Congress that is K Street conflict free
      (2) A system of citizen-funded elections

      Check-out and the American Anti-Corruption Act.

      Step B) Constitutional solution with two objectives
      (3) Limits on independent expenditures (reversing Buckley/Citizens United)
      (4) Reaffirm that when the Declaration of Independence spoke of “unalienable Rights," it was speaking of natural persons only.

      Check-out organizations like:
      Public Citizens – Democracy is for People
      Common Cause
      Free Speech For People
      Move to Amend
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    Apr 9 2013: 1 Education in economics

    2 A lot of time. George Lockwood mentioned this guy the other day. His understanding of economics is poor but his insight into how a country evolves is very interesting. He indicates how much time it takes to create a democracy.