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
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
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