Harvard Professor and possible Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig argues that progressives are not thinking big enough. In a Wednesday column on Huffington Post, Lessig explains that "another partisan election is not going to change America." If we truly want to enhance democracy in America, we need to "un-rig the rigged system first."While the central tenant of Lessig's article, and campaign, is to fix the corrupting influence of money in Washington, he raises an even more important issue in this article - even the most compelling progressive, if elected, cannot solve the inequality of representation in America.
"An even more strident and unrelenting progressive is not going to unmake the powers that have corrupted this democracy," Lessig states.
This can be said of Republican candidates, as well. Those who claim to be different from the partisan folks in Washington and who will work for the American public first will have their work cut out for them. Electing a new president, irregardless of party affiliation, will not alter the institutions that currently block citizens from participating in all levels of the democratic process.
One person, no matter how high of an office he or she holds, cannot fix the inequality of representation we currently experience.
The trick -- and this is something that Lessig mentions -- is to move beyond party labels such as "conservative" or "liberal" and focus on representing all citizens equally.
We need to dream not of turning conservatives into liberals, but of uniting America behind a principle that comes before "conservative" and "liberal." We need to recognize the core problem with America's democracy -- that its citizens are not equal as citizens -- and build a movement to unite America to a cause that no American, openly, could deny: that in a representative democracy, we should be represented equally, and that in this "democracy," we are not. - Lawrence Lessig
"We need to think differently about this election," Lessig concludes.
Members of Congress used to work together on issues rather than retreating behind partisan lines as they currently do. Whether it is campaign finance reform or altering the institutions to make democratic participation available to every voter irregardless of party affiliation, our representatives must move beyond partisan politics first.