Congress' first priority: Fix Congress (Lawrence Lessig)

Mr. Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School.

New House is scheduled to take up “the most important civil rights bill in half a century,” based on “a profoundly comprehensive understanding of the flaws that have evolved within our democracy.” No one outside the beltway seems to know about H.R. 1, which has been crafted primarily by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), but this bill reflects a recognition that the aforesaid “flaws must be fixed” before Congress will be “free to do the other critically important work that Congress must do.”

•Establish a system to fund congressional campaigns through small-dollar matching funds.
See Professor Lessig’s book Republic Lost, and our comments thereon, 2011.

•Force states to end partisan gerrymandering by adopting nonpartisan redistricting commissions – “an obviously better solution than anything the Supreme Court could ever craft.”
States should decide these questions so long as gerrymandering is not being used to discriminate based on race, religious affiliation, etc.

•”Trigger the automatic registration of voters nationally,” restore the Voting Rights Act (that the S. Ct. held had served its purpose), and encourage early voting and modernization of voting technology for the purpose of assuring “an equal freedom to vote.”
High voter turnout is not a panacea, and early voting undermines integrity of the voting process. US electoral system is faltering, 12/10/18.

•Slow the revolving door between Congress and the private sector and strengthen conflict of interest rules, to keep legislators focused on representing their constituents versus being distracted by self-interest.
Maybe, see details.

•But alas, leave untouched, at least for now, “the fundamental distortion produced by the winner-take-all system for allocating electors in the electoral college.”
Compare Electoral College serves valid purposes, 11/14/16.

Most likely, HR 1 will not become law – not while anti-reformer Mitch McConnell leads the Senate. And in any case, fundamental reform needs a president who has made a credible commitment to enact reform and an election that shows America agrees. Clearly, President Trump doesn’t fill that bill, and Democratic leaders (mentioning former President Obama & Bernie Sanders by name) haven’t set much of an example either.

Wanted: candidates “who make reform fundamental and believable, by making fixing this democracy their first priority.”

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