Hacking Democracy

Do we dare look under the hood of American democracy? Or do we have the suspicion that Supreme Court decisions and political battles conceal a drift into disfunction, decay and corruption, too? This week we’re asking our panel of estimable guests where the problems lie with our government, and how to go about fixing it.

Guest List
Zephyr Teachout
lawyer and candidate for governor in the state of New York, mounting an insurgent primary campaign against incumbent Andrew Cuomo
Lawrence Lessig
the Harvard law professor turned agitator of campaign finance reform, and the director of the Mayday PAC.
Hendrik Hertzberg
the New Yorker's political reporter and a supporter of the campaign for the National Popular Vote.
Reading List

The bad news first: The New York Times declined to endorse Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. Why? Because he didn't clean up Albany, as he promised — in fact, he ended up at war with the ethics investigation he started for that very purpose.

Jill Lepore looked at Zephyr Teachout's campaign, and the history of corruption in America, in The New Yorker: "The Crooked and the Dead." She's puzzling after corruption, and how to define it — other than as a kind of invisible influence exercised over the government. Its medium? Cold, hard cash.

On the Bill Moyers site, Robert Reich gives voice to a general downward drift in democratic vitality and a sense of confidence. At its center is a quantitative report out of Princeton, which finds that "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

If you're looking ahead to a change, look for a left-right convergence on limiting state military power and corporate control (call it the Warren-Paul nexus). Or else, a public coming to consciousness against corruption, and for campaign reform, in the age of Lawrence Lessig's "Mayday" PAC.

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