Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Does Every Voice Matter?

Consider our class discussion today regarding the statement: "We live in a democracy where every voice matters." Then watch this video, based on a speech by Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig. Does every voice matter?

4 comments:

Sophie M said...

Although I think that every voice should matter, at this point in time, I don't think that every voice does matter. We talked in class today about how people who run for the government are only able to do so because they have money to back their campaign. This video reinforces the idea that money is necessary not only during the election process, but also is a focus and priority during a representative's term. Lessig says that "the dependency has costs. It has costs for our democracy. It bends the government to get the wrong answer to fundamental questions... because of this dependency on money." The fixation, or dependency, on money matters so much to government reps that it removes focus from the people's voices-- their needs and wants-- and puts focus on the selfishly narrowed goal of attaining monetary success. This video highlights the idea that in society today, having money matters more than having a voice, and it also allows for more opportunities. It's a cycle: money leads to opportunity, which leads to money, etc. This means that those with money have "louder" voices than those who do not, which reinforces that every voice does not matter even though every voice should.

Sarah. said...

I thought it was very interesting that Lessig said that we will try to rationalize why our government went wrong in solving problems and answering our questions a million times before every pinning the reason on money. Going back to the idea of Progress and Competition, I feel that it would be a great humbling experience for us as a nation to accept that something as corrupt as greed might occur within our own government, as well as admitting that we went wrong in the first place. After reading about the Fair Elections Now Act on the Fix Congress First! website, I hope that if it does get passed, improvement will actually be seen. It's quite admirable that two people founded a movement that wants there be another Constitutional Convention. But, this makes me wonder why more people haven't thought about this before. Political campaigns have become advertisements - we are the children watching the toy commercials - and we demand the competition between commercials, etc. by not questioning it.

Bob P said...

I believe that not every voice matters, and not every voice that matters, matters equally. This is why more people haven't expressed their opinions as openly as this professor. Think about the credibility needed to criticize the government and have people listen. The video is made by a Harvard Law professor, a person many people would listen to as an authority on the Law. But if just anyone made the same argument, a postal worker for example, the statement would not have the same weight, and their voice would not matter as much, if at all. Lobbyists are a good example of this discrepancy. Politicians need to look good in order to get elected, but also need to have their corporate sponsors, leading to situations where money in the next election is more important than doing what the majority of the people want. Both voices matter, just one more than the other. This fuels the dependency on money and recent legislation, like allowing corporations to donate as much money as they want to politicians, is not going to help solve this problem. Think about it, according to the video congressman spend 38-70% of their time trying to get money for the next election, meaning out of 6 years in the senate, a senator spends 2.4-4.2 years trying to get more money.

Anna.S said...

This video was really interesting (I loved the typography) and I think it raised a lot of important points. I would like to say, though, that maybe this isn't entirely bad.

Now. I don't necessarily agree with this but I think it needs to be said. When these Congress men and women raise money, they are raising money to advertise themselves. And to have some meat to those advertisements, they need to do things. They need things that will look good: global warming activism, a position on Iraq and Afganistan, education-- all the things the professor mentioned.
So it's not all about the money. Money can only go so far--they also need some sort of proof that they are active members of Congress that YOU should vote for.

Yes, these men and women are spending too much time worrying about re-election. But put into their shoes, I think that one would realize that if you want to make a change, you're going to need to be elected first. And if you want to be elected, you'll need money.