THE BARE KNUCKLE FIGHT AGAINST MONEY IN POLITICS
In this turbulent midterm election year, two academics decided to practice what they preached. They left the classroom, confronted the reality of down-and-dirty politics, and tried to replace moneyed interests with the public interest. Neither was successful - this year, at least - but on this week's edition of Moyers & Company, they discuss with Bill Moyers their experiences and the hard-fought lessons learned about the state of American democracy. Lawrence Lessig teaches law at Harvard, is director of that university's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and founded the University of Chicago's Center for Internet and Society. A well-known Internet activist and campaign finance reform advocate, this election cycle, he started Mayday.US, a crowd-funded SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs. Its mission, Lessig says, is to reduce the influence of money in politics and make it politically toxic to oppose campaign finance reform. Lessig's six congressional picks in truly competitive races went down to defeat in the midterms, but he told a reporter, "The fight to root out corruption in our politics is one of the most important in our time, and we will continue to pursue it with fierce urgency." Zephyr Teachout is a professor of constitutional and property law at Fordham Law School and this year became a political candidate - going up against incumbent New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary. She received more than a third of the vote and carried 30 of the state's 62 counties, surprising everyone - including Cuomo. Her new book, "Corruption in America," is a history of the corrosive influence of money in politics. In it she writes, "What America now faces, if we do not change the fundamental structures of the relationship of money to legislative power, is neither mob rule nor democracy, but oligarchy."