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When I was a senior in high school, The Nation had a contest where they asked high school and college students across the country what the most important issue facing young people was. In writing my response I deliberately chose to misread the question – rather than telling The Nation what I thought young people cared about the most, I decided to tell them what I thought the most important issue was, period. The answer? Undue corporate power and influence, particularly when it comes to the American political process.
Why that? Why did I get the vapors over a little dirty money changing hands when people are fighting and dying in Iraq, when millions of Americans are going without healthcare, when we’re facing a global environmental crisis and there are a million other problems that have a bigger direct impact on the lives of all of us as American citizens?
Because, as Lawrence Lessig said in the powerpoint presentation explaining what Change Congress is: This might not be the most important problem, but it is the first one. Without serious reform in the American policy process, we’re going to continue to be deprived of the substantive policy changes that need to be made.
Our legislative process is badly broken. American democracy is wounded. And until we mend it, every other policy problem we face is only going to get harder to fix.
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