Mr Lessig Goes to Washington

Mr Lessig Goes to Washington


In the latest issue of the magazine, I’ve got a profile of Lawrence Lessig and his new venture Change Congress.

I have to say that, perhaps because of my time in Chicago, I tend to be skeptical of process reforms and goo-goo types. I’m more sympathetic to the perspective, of, say, organized labor, which tends be that, sure it’s a rotten system, but it’s what we got and rathe than try to change the rules, let’s just try to kick the other side’s ass. But as I spent time with Lessig and worked on the profile, I became more and more persuaded that the actual mechanics of congress are so broken they might not be up the challenge of, say, passing global warming legislation. Lessig uses a pretty compelling metaphor to describe the primacy of process reform:

In comparison to saving the planet from immolation, ending donations from lobbyists might seem insignificant, Lessig told the audience at the Press Club. But the problem Congress faces is akin to that faced by an alcoholic. “An alcoholic could be losing his family, his job, his liver,” said Lessig. “These are extraordinarily important problems in any scheme of reckoning; these are the most important problems he could be facing. But he will never face and solve those problems until he solves this alcoholism first. This problem that I’ve described is not the most important problem, it’s just the first problem…. We need to solve this problem now.”

You can read the rest here.

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