We, the People

The dome of the US Capitol building.

The dome of the US Capitol building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, the only thing in Washington that’s truly bipartisan is the cancer that’s eating our Republic from within.  Like so many cancers, the damage has been difficult to spot as it’s grown, but it’s reached a point where it’s visible — at least to some.  Like cancer, when we focus on symptoms, we may very well miss the underlying disease — but it’s there, eating and growing and killing.

Last year, I read a book called “Republic, Lost” by Lawrence Lessig.  It’s a book I wish I could make every American citizen read, but I’ll settle for asking you to read it.  This book explains why Washington has devolved into the gridlocked parking lot we see today.  It’s not a problem caused by either the Democrats or the Republicans in isolation, and it won’t be fixed by one or the other, either.

Our government has well and truly become the living embodiment of Mad Magazine’s famous “Spy vs. Spy” cartoons, and like those cartoons, the only thing that ever gets accomplished any more is for each party to beat the snot out of the other — over and over and over.  “Rebublic, Lost” explains why this is not only not a fluke, it’s an absolutely necessary and obvious extension of the root-cause issues underlying American politics for the last thirty years or so.

While Lessig’s book was an absolute revelation to me, it’s not an especially light read, and it’ll take a small investment of your time to get through its 341 pages.  It’s a worthwhile investment, but I understand that not everyone is going to run out and do that — not during American Idol season, anyway.  So, in the meantime, here’s some appetizer-sized food for thought.  In February, Lessig  gave a TED talk entitled, “We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim”.  It’s just over 18 minutes in length, and if you’ve never read any of Lessig’s work, you need to watch it.  It’ll be the single most valuable contribution you can make to the United States of America in 18 minutes — I promise.

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