Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, third from left holding trash he picked up while walking on Monday, Jan. 13, along Route 16 from Milan to Gorham to raise awareness of what he and his fellow walkers believe is corrupting our democracy: elected officials spending far too much time raising campaign funds from a tiny percentage of voters, wealthy corporations and institutions that grossly diverts their attention from serving the public interest. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
January 22, 2014GORHAM — A march against political corruption wound its way through the North Country last week.
"When I speak of corruption, I'm not talking about crime and criminals like Tammany Hall or the crimes of the Gilded Age, but, rather, the corruption produced by the nation's campaign financing system," explained Professor Lawrence Lessig on Monday, Jan. 13.
Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, earned a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in philosophy from Cambridge University, England, a J.D. from Yale and then clerked for U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
He was leading a long march south from the northern reaches of Coös County, starting in Colebrook and passing through Dixville Notch, Errol, Berlin and Gorham, followed by some 30 activists in an effort to replicate the attention gained by the late Granny D., then nearing 90, when she walked across the country, arriving in Washington, DC, on Feb. 29, 2000, to speak up for campaign finance reform.
Lessig stopped to chat briefly on the edge of Route 16 in Gorham, just south of the Berlin City line.
The N. H. Rebellion will end its walk on Jan. 24 in Nashua.
The group plans to march again in the summer of 2015 and then again, reversing its start and finish points, so that it ends up at the site of the nation's First Primary vote in Dixville Notch, whether at The Balsams or the Wilderness Lodge.
Lessig estimated that members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money for re-election.
One of the solutions that Lessig proposes is to create a campaign financing system in which people could use the first $50 or $100 of their taxes to buy "democracy vouchers" to pay for election campaigns,
plus small individual donations.
Lessig also asserted that every year some $96 billion is spent on "corporate welfare" for which there is no justification in a free market system. Eliminating unnecessary corporate subsidies would mean that the tax dollars used to fund a voucher system would not be missed, but would free up elected officials to act in the public interest, rather than unduly influenced by wealthy donors.
In addition to those walkers in the photograph, some were lagging behind the leaders and others were riding in a camper-sag-wagon, in which supplies and gear was hauled from inns, B & Bs, hostels, and motels. A sticker on one of its windows read: Anti-Corruption #NH Rebellion.