"Awareness is the gasoline," attorney Larry Lessig told Redditors in an AMA conversation this afternoon. He used the forum to announce that his anti-corruption organization Rootstrikers will join forces with Demand Progress, originally founded by his friend, the late Internet activist (and Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz. The organizations will continue the fight to reform money in politics.
Originally better known as a free culture activist and founder of Creative Commons, in recent years Lessig has been increasingly laser focused on ridding politics of the pernicious influence of big money, particularly the time lawmakers take away from governing to fundraise. His campaign finance proposals include funding elections by small donors through a voucher system.
Here are some highlights of his chat with Redditors:
On paying Congresspeople more to discourage the "revolving door" between serving and lobbying:
"DON'T TELL ANYONE I SAID THIS: They are lawmakers. Why aren't they paid as much as a first year partner at a DC firm? In Singapore, gov't ministers get paid $1 million a year. Where is corruption in Singapore. NO-where."
On the real problem with the Koch brothers:
"The problem (imho) is not the money. The problem is the fundraising. I don't care if the Koch brothers or Soros spend their money to promote one candidate or another. I care about members of Congress spending 30%-70% of their time raising money from .05% of us. Change the way we fund elections and you change the corruption. We won't [have] utopia, of course, but we will have a gov't "free," as my buddy, [former Republican governor and congressman]Buddy Roemer put it, "free to lead.""
On reaching across the aisle:
"I don't think it's actually very hard to convince people on the right. Impossible to convince Beltway Republicans, of course, but it's also hard to get Beltway Democrats to do anything Bold (just ask the PCCC how hard they've had to push to get the Dem caucus to get behind real reform). But anyone who cares about "crony capitalism" (in the way everyone cares about cancer) gets what this movement is about."