Monday, May 5, 2014

Larry Lessig and the Mayday PAC Look Toward Campaign Reform


It's election time around the United States, so this particular and peculiar crowdfunding campaign seems appropriate. One of the best aspects of crowdfunding projects is that it gives people a voice. Whether it's creators who don't want their vision diluted by corporate interference or customers who want to directly support projects and their creators, often for small or niche endeavors that couldn't make it out into the world otherwise, there's something wonderfully democratic about the crowdfunding process.

It's a feeling that, ironically, is missing in actual politics, now more than ever. Everywhere, people are concerned that there's too much money in politics and it seems that nothing can be done about it. Enter Larry Lessig, who has stood for many things, privacy, innovation, reform, among them. He's helped start the Mayday PAC, a crowdsourced SuperPAC dedicated to "end all SuperPACs."

Lessig and the Mayday PAC are using money to fight money. They're looking to raise money from the people who are currently being blocked out of the politics of their own country by the rich, who seemingly have more of a voice than others. It isn't the way a free country should work, and it's that issue that Mayday wants to address:
If we raise our funding targets, in 2014, we will launch a small campaign in at least 5 congressional districts. Based on what we learn in those 5 districts, we will launch a much larger campaign to get us to 218 votes in the House, and 60 votes in the United States Senate.
The goal is one million dollars; if that's met, then it will be matched. Similarly, five million dollars in pledges will also be matched - a stretch goal of sorts. Like Kickstarter campaigns, money will only be taken if the goal is reached. These funds - 100% of them - will go to support in districts where reform is a key issue. They are aiming first at 2014 elections, and then at the much larger goal of the 2016 races.

There's a lot to unpack. Not wanting to run the risk of confusion, incorrect information, or needless political debate by delving into it here, I really, really suggest you head to the site and read through the entire plan. Heck, engage with Lessig if you'd like; I'm sure he be thrilled at filling you in. This is bigger than one party or the other - although they will let you indicate if you want your contributions to support only a specific party - and is crucial in determining the future of our political system, or government, and our country.

Folks can pledge contributions in amounts between $5 and $10,000 - chump change in political campaign terms - but the Mayday PAC is already 47% funded as of this writing. In only a few days' time we've seen that this is an important cause that people are willing to take up. Maybe they just needed the right platform to take action, an act of innovation that wouldn't be out of place on Lessig's resume. "We the people" hasn't seemed more appropriate in a long while than it does for this experiment. As Lessig says in his video, "embrace the irony" of using big money to end big money. If you do - and maybe this is just optimism talking - you might just be on the right side of history.

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