Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It

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In this entirely new edition—revised and expanded in time for the 2016 election—Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig exposes the most vexing problem in American democracy and offers a new plan to save our lost republic.

In an era when special interests funnel huge amounts of money into our government—driven by shifts in campaign-finance rules and brought to new levels by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—trust in our government has reached an all-time low. More than ever before, Americans believe that money buys results in politics, and that business interests wield control over our government.

Lawrence Lessig takes a clear-eyed look at what this crisis is—a crisis of equality—and how we arrived at it—how fundamentally good people, with good intentions, have allowed our democracy to be co-opted by outside interests, and deny citizens the basic equality of a representative democracy. Using examples that resonate as powerfully on the Right as on the Left, Lessig seeks out the root cause of our situation. He plumbs the issues of campaign financing and corporate lobbying, revealing the Tweedism—an endemic corruption of citizen equality—that has taken hold of our system.

From there, Lessig presents ideas for how this republic lost can be regained, ultimately calling for widespread mobilization and a new Constitutional Convention, presenting achievable solutions for regaining control of our corrupted—but redeemable—representational system. He also explores the idea of Referendum Politicians, as a more immediate way to force change into the system. In this way, Lessig plots a roadmap for returning our republic to its intended greatness, by giving citizens what they were originally meant to have—a Congress “dependent on the people alone,” where by “the People,” was meant “not the rich more than the poor.”

While America may be divided, Lessig vividly champions the idea that we can succeed if we accept that corruption is our common enemy and that we must find a way to fight against it. In this brand new edition of REPUBLIC, LOST, he not only makes this need palpable and clear—he gives us the practical and intellectual tools to do something about it.

Lawrence Lessig

by Robert Scoble

About the Author

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons and the AXA Research Fund. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including a Webby Life Time Achievement Award, the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries.

Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.