Fighting Fire With Fire

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A paradoxical approach to getting money out of politics.

The Mayday Political Action Committee recognizes the irony in its strategy: by raising enough money to become an influential Super PAC they hope to get money out of politics. However they’re not going about it in the traditional way. Using a Kickstarter-like platform (including giving money back to donors if their goal isn’t met), their aim is to crowdsource funds in a bottom-up approach. And as of last weekend, they’ve met a second goal: raising $5 million.

Lawrence Lessig established the campaign in May, having organized previous initiatives to call out money’s influence in politics. In January, he walked across the state of New Hampshire to initiate discussions with people about this pervasive problem. Lessig commented, “In a time of polarized politics, there’s one thing that more than 90 percent of Americans agree on—that our government is broken. And broken because of the money in politics. Right now Congress doesn’t answer to us. It answers to the elite few. Members of Congress waste 30-70 percent of their time raising money from the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent. That gives this tiny fraction of the 1 percent enormous power in our government.”

The Super PAC’s plan to address this power imbalance has four phases. The initial $5 million will be given to support five candidates in the 2014 midterm election cycle who support the campaign’s premise. Based on lessons learned, the Mayday PAC will raise more money for the 2016 elections and engage in as many races as possible. While the campaign relies heavily on a grassroots approach, they will also look to wealthier contributors to donate or match funds. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has already voiced his support as have celebrities such as Jason Alexander and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The overall aim is to get 218 representatives and 60 senators elected. These Congress members would then enact phase three which is to pass major campaign finance reform legislation. Such reform would support “small dollar public funding” such as a voucher system. The last phase would entail sustaining and building upon the reforms made. 

Photo byEd Schipul, licensed underCreative Commons.

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