Editor: Just as presidential politics seemed to be drowning in the tidal wave of Trumpism, academic and political activist Lawrence Lessig came to the rescue by entering the Democratic presidential field.
Some fear the enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump as a candidate for the presidency even as we recognize it as a response to people’s dissatisfaction with politics as usual. It is frightening to conceive a president who shoots from the hip. It may be amusing as theater but it is just not suitable for the Oval Office, the war room or a “hot line.”
I share the dissatisfaction with our politics because it is supported by money that belongs in the marketplace. Candidates for sale equate with policies for sale. Lobbying, which is a civic right — even a civic responsibility — is part of the democratic process. But when it is about vying for legislation by throwing money at public officials, we call it corruption.
I’m sure that Mr. Lessig will not be our next president, but I am relieved that he has brought the issue of “politics for sale” to the attention of the American people. It is the enemy within. It makes politics a sham. And for those who deride politics as a bad thing, look around the world at people who have lived in dictatorships or autocracies — who have had no say about what goes on in their countries. They yearn to be blessed with a system that has a politics — that is open to debate on the will of the people. We cannot have democracy that is governed by money.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address calls for us to have a government of, for and by the people. Lincoln questioned whether a country so conceived and so dedicated could long endure. Let Lessig’s candidacy remind us that we need to clean up our act if our democracy is to endure.
The Times-Tribune, 8.16.2015, Letter to the Editor