David Ardia, codirector of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, said he was pleased that Lessig spoke about a complex issue such as campaign finance.
“He has the uncanny ability to distill complicated problems,” Ardia said.
Lessig received no payment for the lecture, Ardia said.
Corruption in politics affects both parties, Lessig said during his lecture.
“This is bipartisan, equal opportunity corruption,” he said. “Democrats and Republicans are unified.”
Lessig said the media also contributes to corruption because journalists are more focused on polarization instead of investigative reporting.
“This is the model that drives the kind of politics in media we have, because this model is profitable,” Lessig said.
Tori Ekstrand, UNC professor of media law, said she agreed that the media has not shed enough light on corruption.
“It’s not something people are investing in,” she said. “While we still have the internet watching, it’s not the steady watching with legacy media.”
Lessig said activists should realize that their causes will never be addressed until the influence of money in politics is changed.
“Take your issue, look it straight in the eyes and explain it will never be solved, or any of the issues you care about, until you address these corruptions first,” he said.
Lessig offered some solutions to regulating the unlimited campaign contributions permitted by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, including the use of vouchers or tax credits to prevent candidates from focusing on fundraising.
“My view is we can do this with a single statute, single small dollar fundraising,” he said.
Lessig said the way to enact change is through grassroots movements.
“This is not politics of politicians,” he said. “This is citizens demanding politics change.”
Though it is easy to lose hope in reforming the system, Lessig said, people should ignore the challenges.
“When the pundits say this change is impossible, what those who love their country should say is, ‘That’s just irrelevant.’”
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