Candidates Who Matter

By James Kwak

Nine months ago I endorsed Larry Lessig for president because, as I wrote at the time, “If we want real change in the long term, we have to fix the system. That means real equality of political participation, not just the formal equality of one person one vote.” There is no more fundamental issue we face than a political system that is distorted by money from top to bottom. (If you think Donald Trump somehow disproves this idea, consider that fact that, right now, the campaign topic getting the most attention is the Trump campaign’s financial situation, and the strongest evidence that Clinton is likely to win is her financial superiority.)

Larry Lessig’s campaign, unfortunately, never got off the ground, in part because the Democratic establishment bent its own rules to keep him out of the debates. That’s one reason why I’m not giving money to Hillary Clinton or the DSCC or the DCCC—that and, frankly, none of them have prioritized political reform. Sure, I want Clinton to win, but I can’t afford to donate to everyone I’d like to see win. In the long run, what we need are candidates who will put political reform first—not second, or third, or fifteenth.

So here are a two. One is Zephyr Teachout, a law professor better known for embarrassing Andrew Cuomo by winning a third of the vote in the 2014 New York gubernatorial primary despite being outspent by seventy gazillion to one. She’s also an expert on corruption in the political system, having written a serious history of corruption in America. Teachout is running for Congress in New York’s 19th district (which has a primary on Tuesday). She’s already famous, so enough said. (There’s also a documentary about her run against Cuomo that’s raising money on Kickstarter, and could use donations.)

The other is Sean Barney, a classmate of mine at the Yale Law School who is running to be Delaware’s congressional representative. Sean has made political reform his top priority, and he supports a six-for-one public match for small contributions, a new Voting Rights Act, and non-partisan redistricting commissions to end gerrymandering of congressional districts. He’s also been endorsed by Larry Lessig. (And he’s a marine who was almost killed by a sniper in Fallujah before going to law school.)

Running for Congress is hard. Running on a platform of undermining the current system . But if we have a Congress that is wholly dependent on big money, we’re never going to roll back the influence of big money. At the end of the day, whether your big issue is climate change, or workers’ rights, or financial reform, that’s the only thing that matters.

I’m sure there are other candidates out there who are also dedicated to political reform. If you care about the political system, with the June 30 reporting deadline coming up—ironic as it may sound—these are the kinds of people you should consider donating to. So that one day, whether or not you can afford the donation will no longer matter.

6 thoughts on “Candidates Who Matter

  1. Back in the seventies and eighties the candidates were financed strictly off the $1 from the tax season donations. By financializing everything under the moon, including the elections, this country has made a mockery of every industry. There is no need for political speeches, if you can’t put into words and supply the citizens with a political news letter,(preferably a free picked up at the post office), You should not even be qualified to run for office. This would open the field up to many individuals even of little ways and means, then slowly whittle down the field to a few who can live debate the important issues. This is not rocket science folks, it’s common sense and should have been done decades ago. Fascists have taken control of every aspect of life, which was predicted, now the solution, well that is illusive.

    There are always 2 areas one can go after they have failed at everything else, teachin, and politics.

  2. The above snipe about teachers was low. However, I agree with you James, and have sent money to Zepher and lots of downballot Bernie candidates here in Wa State, including John Comerford for State treasurer, who favors a state bank. Lots of things happening as a result of the Bernie campaign, though I wish he’d emphasize “no regime change” more, and neoliberal economic/military policies.

  3. Well it was low, prolly should have been directed at the dept of education but there aren’t enough participants there to bark about to make much of a difference, since seeing how education is lost in this country, anyone devoting much effort to such a lost cause got included in the “lowness”, the educational bar is set so low in this country, a snake could get over it.

    On a brighter note.

    Having just passed the 180th anniversary of the Alamo, an interesting story can be told.

    Davy Crockett was a congressman from TN, we don’t know of the specifics, yet apparently he just rode out of Washington one day after making his last speech on the floor of the Senate. He spoke of his disgust of the members of congress and how they were incompetent and completely corrupted, and that his time was better spent taming the west, and so he up and suddenly walked out on his congressional duties.
    The story was picked up by Disney in a 1960 movie and told of his adventures leading up to the Alamo, toward the end of the movie the Texans were surrounded by Mexicans and a decision was made that someone should try to ride out for help at Houston. His trusted aid George (played by Buddy Ebsen) volunteered to attempt to do so. After initially riding out at night, two weeks later he came back to the dismay of the remaining Texans (including a wounded Davy Crockett). They were shocked at his arrival. They said “George, you escaped to freedom and yet you chose to return, why?” He said, “I just wanted to tell everyone there was nobody to come and help us”. That was the last scene in the movie.

  4. Why is it that Hillary Clinton can be said to be superior to Donald Trump without even bothering to explain (or explain away) her neoconservatism?
    Racism is bad, as is denial of women’s rights, disregard of the danger of global warming, and so much else that makes Trump impossible for me to vote for. But doesn’t the issue of war and peace – human lives – transcend everything else?
    Voting for Clinton almost guarantees the expansion and launching of wars in the Middle East, and military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine. That’s not small beer. War between the US and Russia over Ukraine could easily go nuclear, even with no one intending it to happen. Even if it didn’t, Ukraine isn’t remotely worth the risk; it is incidental at best to US security.
    Russia has not threatened any country not formerly in the Soviet Union, which it rightly continues to consider areas of vital national interests. Trump wants to negotiate with Putin and lessen tensions. He also seems to want to avoid expanding and launching wars, scale back on military alliances, and perhaps even lay the groundwork for a real reduction in US military expenditures. Why go with Clinton, another neoconservative with a vision of global empire in the Cheney mold, in preference to a paleocon like Trump, who places a greater valuation on peace than she does?
    Kwak and others need to start asking themselves this question. I for one am voting my conscience: Jill Stein.

  5. In closing I think everyone should take heed at the quality of our candidates and their advisers ability to manage this country during these stressful times for our citizens. It’s at an all time low as the times get tougher and the critical decisions need to be made. The only remedy is the gvt default, and I will stress this as the months and years go by.
    Because by now the quality of our representatives is so low that they will not even recognize what one looks like once it arrives, nor the timing of one. Because no solution works so well as one which comes as a surprise to people who caused the problems to continue in the first place. Doing things the same failed way because that’s the way it’s always been done, is no solution at all. The problems are baked into the cake at this point and the problem makers can throw their solutions around, but their only answers are to raise taxes and the cost of living on the shrinking middle class. They have no other answers.

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