American Plutocracy and the Restoration of Representive Government

Functionally speaking, the United Sates is now as much a plutocracy as it is a republic. This is not a rhetorical statement – it is well supported by the available evidence. Sure, in any given election, the voters decide among an array of options. But the set of viable candidates is dictated by the exigencies of funding. Following the Citizens United ruling, more of this funding than ever comes from a small minority of extraordinarily wealthy individuals. Consequently, congressional representatives must consider their appeal to these donors as much as their appeal to ordinary citizens. In that sense, much (probably most) of the national political agenda is sculpted to match the interests of less than 0.05% of Americans.

Below, Lawrence Lessig not only points out that this is the most important problem facing the United States – the problem that must be solved before any other matter of social, environmental, economic, or political importance can be meaningfully addressed – he also suggests some potential solutions.