Occupy Long-term Thinking

...we can't afford to simply indulge the passion of our differences. Not anymore.

- Lawrence Lessig

I was planning on writing a well thought out post about the Occupy movement, American polarization, and the necessity of thinking long term. Instead, I've been drinking wine with my wife and refreshing Twitter to see what's happening in Oakland. So here's what I've decided to pound out.
I like the passion of the Occupy movement. The majority of its participants stand much closer to my cultural comfort zone than do Tea Partiers. So I root for the political engagement that Occupy is stimulating. Unfortunately, I also recognize that passion is almost inevitably short-sighted. At least one  major supporter of the Occupy movement is proving as much through a conversation with Lawrence Lessig.

In Something More Than Polarization, Lessig reviews an online conversation he's been drawn into with David Zirin of The Nation. The whole conversation is worth a read, but my summary is this: Zirin thinks that the Tea Party is the enemy and can not be engaged while Lessig asserts that all Americans should come together to demand political reforms that will free our government to listen to the People.

Ok, I just deleted a paragraph of ranting. It concerned my abhorrence of solidarity built on a foundation of Us v Them talk (no, I was not referring to the Tea Party). Anyway, I recommend the article. That is all.

Republic, Lost: Read This Book

For this is the paradox at the core of my argument: that even without sinning, we can do much more harm than the sinner.

 -Lawrence Lessig

I've just begun reading Lawrence Lessig's new book today and I am already going to recommend it without reservation.  Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It, is an account of our government's addiction to special-interest money. This addiction leads to a corruption of our process that is found, not in the souls of our Representatives, but in the system in which they must work. Lessig has been researching this corruption for years now. He has also presented on it in part, which is why I feel I can push this book without yet finishing it. 

Republic, Lost proposes bold actions against boring things. This is often the curse of truly radical proposals, and both Professor Lessig's view of corruption and his proposed solutions are radical in the truest sense. They deal with the roots. We can pretend that radical ideas easily inspire. The truth is, it is so much simpler to direct energy and attention towards the superficial. The bad men in back rooms, even when they really exist, are just leaves on the tree of government corruption. Dealing with the roots is so much more difficult.

I hope our country engages with this book. There is so much anger and defiance in our streets today. I'm sure it's cathartic. I doubt it's effective. Lawrence Lessig offers a true target at which to aim all our energies. I suggest we hand this book out to the protesters on Wall Street, stage a read-in and after that, stand up again.