Larry Lessig is a hero of mine. I first heard of him when I started following Aaron Swartz’s activism and his online blog. They ignited my interest in copyright norms, policies, and laws around the world. I remember a summer where I spent hours researching Lessig’s work, and watched (probably) all of his talks. When I got to my last year in college, I took a course a few courses that gave more fuel to the fire. In one, the history of information systems, starting with the telegraph, was taught. This gives one a foundational understanding of the context in which much of digital copyright law was created. Another course was specifically copyright and patent law in the digital age. We read seminal papers on privacy, copyright, intellectual property, and studied a number of court cases which analyzed and provided new jurisprudence in the field.
These days, Lessig is speaking out about the U.S.’s political system of elections. Given the premise that the founders (esp. Hamilton) believed elected officials should be responsive to the citizens, Lessig lays out a proposition that today this is false. Our elected officials are instead responsive to the funders of campaigns. These funders determine the viability of a campaign: without their support, campaigns cannot receive enough funding to get their messages out to the voters. Privately funded elections as we currently conduct them are a recipe for a body of elected officials whose job it is to ensure their campaign funders are happy, rather than those citizens living in their districts.