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Campaign Finance Reform: Is Grassroots Democracy The Solution?

Distribution of contributions made to President Barack Obama in election cycle 2012 (through October 17). He totaled over $482 million individual contributions. (Federal Election Commission)

Distribution of contributions made to President Barack Obama in election cycle 2012 (through October 17). He totaled over $482 million in individual contributions. (Federal Election Commission)

We’ve just experienced the most expensive election in U.S. history.

Rep. John Sarbanes, left, and Lawrence Lessig at WBUR (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Rep. John Sarbanes, left, and Lawrence Lessig at WBUR (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Rep. John Sarbanes and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig say that, regardless of the outcomes of election night, all that money in politics is bad for the country.

They join us to talk about a new campaign finance proposal — and if it’s even possible to get the money genie back in the bottle.

Sarbanes will give a public lecture, “Building A Grassroots Democracy,” Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Harvard Law School.

Both Lessig and Sarbanes will be part of a panel discussion, “Grassroots Democracy: How would it work?” Friday at noon at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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  • Wahoo_wa

    The amount of money spent is amazing!  On a different note, this was the first Presidential election since FDR was voted back into office in 1944 that the incumbent President received less votes than in the previous election.  Obama received nearly 10 million FEWER votes in this election when compared to 2008.

  • Phil

    Even if no representative were influenced by money—even if they were all true to their principles—the source of campaign funds biases the process of selection of successful candidates.  We’re more likely to get candidates whose principles happen to align with those of wealthy individuals.

  • galdove

    The money is definitely a problem because it will eventually lead to corruption even if it supposedly failed this time.  At some point it will succeed.  But the most effective defense to all the outside big money is the little claim of ownership they have to give at the end of the ad.  When it is attributed from any source other than the candidate it is very easy to dismiss.  Its outside money.  Even if its the candidates own big money, (Whitman, McMahon,  Corzine).  They carry a whole other agenda for the negativity or support.  Big Money is turning into a very dirty word with coattails.  It eats its own.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    What do you think of this idea. Create a law that says: “ For every dollar given to a political campaign or political PAC or political organization, the donor must donate an equal amount to, say, a children’s’ hospital or to a general purpose disaster relief fund ? “ Maybe we can convert all of that manure into food for a beautiful garden. I think I’ll name it, “Eden”.

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