A Brilliant Plan To Give Billionaires Who Try To Buy U.S. Elections A Taste Of Their Own Medicine

Mansur Gidfar

How bad has the money-in-politics situation gotten? A new study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern universities found that, and I'm quoting directly here: "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

In other words, if you can't afford to hire a lobbyist or raise money for politicians, your opinion literally does not matter.

But don't go into a hopeless despair spiral just yet. On May 1, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig launched Mayday PAC: a crowdfunded Super PAC with the sole mission of forcing Congress to get money out of politics. The response so far has been overwhelming: They've raised over a half-million dollars in the first week alone.

As of this post, Mayday PAC is already more than 65% of the way to its first goal:

You can support the Super PAC to end all Super PACs by going to MayOne.us and chipping in.

Since the early 1920s, aviators and mariners have used

the word “mayday” to signal distress, and to call for aid. And on

the sea at least, when another captain hears that call, there is an

obligation — a moral obligation — to lend aid.

We are calling a Mayday on this democracy. Across this

country, Americans on the left and the right have come to the view

that our government is broken. And more than 90% of us link that

failure to the role of money in politics.

While infrastructure collapses, while our schools fail, while

we have a health care system that costs too much and does too

little, while climate change remains totally unaddressed, while

our tax system remains a gift to those who can afford to lobby for

loopholes — politicians from both parties still spend endless time

raising money from the tiniest fraction of the 1%.

And as a recent study from Princeton confirms, the result

of this fundraising culture is a government that is responsive to

that tiny faction of the 1%, while “average citizens have little or no

independent influence.”

We want to fight back.

Our democracy is held hostage by the funders of

campaigns. We’re going to pay the ransom and get it back.

We want to build a superPAC big enough to end all

superPACs, and over the course of the next two election cycles,

use that superPAC to win enough seats to pass fundamental

reform. Or at least we’re going to try.

With MayOne.us, we launch an experiment to see whether

we, the people, can kickstart a superPAC big enough to mobilize

the people to demand reform.

We’re going to do this in stages, with a series of targets,

which, as we meet them, will build confidence that this experiment

has enough support of Americans to make it real and to make it

work.

Our goal for this election cycle is raise enough money to

change the results in 5 house districts across the country. Through

that work, we’ll learn what works. And we’ll put the rest of

Congress on notice that in 2016, we’ll be back.

Now, to do this, we’re launching this experiment:

We’ll first kickstart $1 million — meaning we’ll ask people

to commit whatever they can afford, and only if we meet that goal

will we collect their pledge. So if you pledge $100, we only collect

that $100 if $1 million is pledged.

If we hit that first $1 million goal, then I’ll get that amount

matched, and we’ll then kickstart a second target, this one with a

$5 million goal.

And if we hit that goal, then I’ll get that matched as well,

and we’ll then have enough to make a difference in 2014, and to

set us up for a much bigger campaign two years later.

And here is my pledge: 100% of the money we kickstart

here will be used to change congress. None will go to overhead or

consultant salaries out of these funds — all of them will be used to

convince Americans to help us to win this democracy back.

Now, we need your help to make this work.

No one knows whether we can build such a movement

from the citizens up. Certainly I don’t. But we need to try.

We’re not going to spend thousands to advertise what

we’re doing. We’re going to count on you.

We have pulled together this first site with the volunteer

help of people who want to make America better. And throughout

this campaign, we’ll rely upon volunteers as much as we can.

But when we raise the money we need to make an impact,

we’ll hire the best bad-ass campaign shops we can find to make

these contributions work.

So yes, we want to spend big money to end the influence

of big money. Ironic, I get it. But embrace the irony. Because with

enough of us, we can easily build a superPAC bigger and more

effective than the superPACs of the billionaires.

So please help us.

Pledge whatever you can now. We won’t collect it unless

we meet our goal.

But more importantly, please spread this message. It will

take thousands of Americans to even meet this first goal. But we

will reach those thousands only if people like you take the first step

to share what we’re doing.

If we’re going to ransom back this democracy, you must

answer this mayday call.

We’ve made promises to our children, and promises to

our parents, but we have a government that is more worried about

promises to itself — and its lobbyists — to keep itself in power.

We still have the power to change that. And we will, if you

help.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

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