By Melaina Steig
Money corrupts congress and America needs to fix it said a Harvard Law Professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire on Wednesday night.
“If we don’t fix this problem, our nation can’t survive.” said Lawrence Lessig.
Lessig spoke to more than 300 people on how he believes that there is a hole in our government, and where that hole is, there should be a congress. A congress that should be focusing on how to fix issues like taxes, minimum wage, Wall Street, and student debt. Instead there are questions like “how has money affected Hillary Clinton?” and not how money has affected congress. Lessig said that without mentioning money when talking about congress, it is like talking about the problems of an alcoholic without mentioning alcohol.
One of the reasons that we are “nowhere near to a sense of representative democracy” Lessig said, is because there is an unequal freedom to vote. People will wait in line for 30 minutes to vote and for working America, they just can’t afford to do so.
Another issue that Lessig brought up in his speech was how the use of gerrymandering in politics has it so “politicians pick the voters, not the voters picking the politicians.” Lessig said that 345 out of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are considered ‘safe seats.’ Safe seats are seats that are controlled by the majority party and has no chance of losing that seat to a minority. That means that only 90 districts have the opportunity to have a minority leader.
“I don’t care who does the electing, as long as I do the nominating.” said William M. Tweed, an American politician. This way of voting makes it so that the percent of average votes don’t matter because we will only be voting on the people that the majority party wants us to vote on.
In an analogy that Lessig created, we the citizens expect to be “driving the bus” and in full control of where we are going as a country, but with the political system that we practice, we are still “driving” but the steering wheel has been disconnected and the “bus” is out of our control.
The solution to these problems is to restore representative democracy, and the only way to do that is by having a referendum president. A referendum president would have a single purpose in office and that would be to fix the crippled system that is our congress.
With this plan, he also was help the burden that the younger generations of this country face when it comes to debt, and health care.
“I really worry about the next generations.” said Thomas Chisholl, a non-traditional student at the University and attendee at the forum. Chisholl said that he always knew the problem with debt was congress, but he is still trying to understand the solution the best he can.
When reflecting on the political system that Benjamin Franklin had planned for our country, Lessig said that “On our watch, we have lost that republic.”