By Simon Johnson
These days, almost everyone likes to complain about institutional corruption – and various forms of intellectual capture of government orchestrated by big corporate interests. But very few people are willing to do anything meaningful about it.
Zephyr Teachout is an exception. Not only has she written about the history of political corruption in the United States, both in long form (her recent book) and in many shorter versions (e.g., see this paper), she is competing for the Democratic nomination to become governor of New York.
In many countries, Ms. Teachout would sweep to victory. She has smart ideas about many dimensions of public policy (here are her economic policies), she has assembled a strong team, and – most of all – she represents exactly the kind of responsible reform that we need at this stage of our republic.
Elizabeth Warren offered exactly the same sort of promise to the people of Massachusetts in 2012 – real reform through pragmatic and effective politics. She has delivered on this promise and there is every indication that her influence will only grow in the years to come.
On Tuesday, New York has an opportunity to head in the same direction. I’ve work with policy makers around the world and across the political spectrum in the United States. Ms. Teachout is completely credible as a potential governor.
And we need her brand of reform. In spring 2009, I wrote about the capture of the American federal government by big financial interests. But the problem is much broader – it is rooted in our electoral system and the ways that money effectively buys votes.
I’m often asked – what can ordinary Americans possibly do about this? The only reasonable answer is: seek out plausible reform candidates, donate to their campaigns, and vote for them. Too few such candidates have come forward in recent years. But Elizabeth Warren offered (and offers) exactly this sort of opportunity, and so too now does Zephyr Teachout.
If you live in New York and are eligible to vote in the Democratic primary, vote for Zephyr Teachout – or stop complaining.