Keynote by Lawrence Lessig at the NCMR on June 6, 2008, framing the argument for CHANGE CONGRESS. One of our favorite speeches from the conference. Change Congress is a national movement to end corruption in America's congress. The initiative is organizing citizens to push candidates to make four simple commitments:
1. No money from lobbyists or PACs
Congresspeople should be beholden to citizens, not special interests. By committing not to accept money from lobbyists or PACs, candidates give us confidence that their votes won't be swayed by big money.Learn more about Lobbyists.
2. Vote to end earmarks
Earmarks allow congresspeople to explicitly decide who should get the money our government spends. Because of the earmark economy, money that is supposed to go to our schools, our soldiers, and our citizens is instead diverted to political donors and pork-barrel projects like the "Bridge to Nowhere". We can't clean up Congress until we end this blatant system of corruption. Republicans have recently pushed prominently for changes such as these. To learn more, see FAQ on earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense or Porkbusters.
A pledge to support ending earmarks means a Member will vote for proposals that will permanently abolish earmarks. Importantly, it does not mean that while the system of earmarks remains, the Member will choose to forego earmarks for his or her district. Until the system is changed, that choice is left up to the Member.
3. Support reform to increase Congressional transparency
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we would all benefit from a cleaner Congress if more of its proceedings, and the proceedings of its members, were public. This pledge calls for changes in the law and rules of Congress to get all members to be more public about meetings and contacts, including changing the rules so lawmakers post weekly updates of their campaign contributions, meetings with registered lobbyists, their latest earmark requests, and significant changes in their personal wealth. To learn more, see FAQ on transparency and visit the Sunlight Foundation.
4. Support publicly-financed campaigns
It's not enough to just push particular candidates to stay out of the system of corruption; we have to reform the system itself. Publicly- financed campaigns will stop the cycle of campaign finance reform loopholes and ensure that big money stays out of Congress forever. Public financing has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats. For prominent campaigns, seeFAQ on public financing and visit Public Campaign and Just 6 Dollars.