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Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig

Posted April 2, 2009 | 01:31 PM (EST)

Durbin: "If you even knew how much time we spend raising money..."


Yesterday, politicians across the country scurried to call big campaign contributors, begging for last-minute cash before the quarterly reporting period ended at midnight.

Also yesterday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced their groundbreaking bill to replace special-interest-funded elections with citizen-funded elections for Congress, so our representatives can spend more time working for the people they're supposed to represent.

And today, Change Congress unveiled a new online "whip count" tool that makes it easy for citizens to call our representatives and demand they support this bill.

The Wall Street crisis was a wake-up call for many people. For years, financial institutions like Bank of America and AIG donated millions to the very people who were supposed to regulate them. The result is obvious.

What's less obvious to some is the solution. But thanks to Durbin, Specter, and a bipartisan array of sponsors in the House, the solution is now staring us in the face.

The Durbin-Specter bill would put in place a new hybrid of public funding plus Obama-style small donations for congressional candidates. Candidates would receive a substantial chunck of funding if they agreed to raise no more than $100 per person. Plus, those small donations would be matched 4 to 1 and be augmented by reduced-cost TV ads.

As I've written before, this proposal has the support of nearly 70% of Americans and would save taxpayers billions of dollars a year, the essence of fiscal responsibility.

In announcing the bill, Senator Durbin said this:

It is much better to spend your time out meeting the people you want to represent...if we spend a little more time with folks who aren't as wealthy, I think it's better for us and for the system.


Plus, we have a big agenda here...if you even knew how much time we spend raising money or talking about raising money or begging people to take national trips to raise money, it's just nothing short of amazing."

We urgently need to pressure Congress to support this reform.

Some current and former Google employees volunteered with Change Congress to help design our new tool, replicating the "whip count" process that congressional leaders use to count votes, but putting this power in your hands instead.

But crowd-sourcing the "whipping" of votes only works if regular people across the country each donate a minute or two to help change their democracy.

Can you take a moment to help whip the vote?

Together, we can Change Congress.