Tony Heyl's Reviews > Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It

Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig
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Mar 07, 12

Read from February 23 to March 07, 2012

To anyone trying to understand how money changes Washington, Republic Lost is a very good book. Lessig knows his stuff, a liberal who worked with and liked Reagan from way before he was President. He points out that there is much more to corruption than just quid pro quo money for votes, and in fact, that is small in comparison to how money influences in other ways. He doesn't demonize, but instead explains how good people can be affected by money, and not just the money that they get as campaign contributions. He shows how the need to fund campaigns doesn't just affect whether a member votes yes or no, but how much time they devote to an issue and so drives out important issues that affect people that don't have much money. It was nice for Lessig to put forward ideas that were unique, for instance decrying Citizens United, but not for the reasons liberals give. He then explains how the influence of money hurts causes on both the left and the right, preventing regulations as well as a simpler tax code. His prescriptions for how to get meaningful reform are a bit lacking and he admits that there is at best a 10% chance that even his best idea, which is a constitutional convention, and his other ideas are really out there. I think more attention should be put on campaign finance and the influence of lobbyists, but I don't think I'd end up at the same conclusions for a prescription.
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