jonathan lovell's blog

a site to explore the difference between meaningful and ill-conceived educational reform (note: you have to open a post for its links to be activated)

A “genius” idea for reversing our slide into oligarchy

The inspiration of a “SuperPac to end all Superpacs” is an idea that only Lawrence Lessig of Harvard’s Law School could dream up.  It’s the most hopeful push-back I’ve learned about in the 35 years since the federal tax policies of Jimmy Carter (sad to say, but true) started us on our seemingly inexorable slide into a political and social oligarchy.  I urge you to make a contribution.  It looks as if the “MayDay Citizens’ SuperPac (see here) is right on the cusp of hitting its first target of 1 million.


There are a couple times in my life when I have felt like I’ve just leapt off a tall building. On the whole, I’ve decided, I’ve not had this feeling often enough.

So today, I leap again — with certainly the biggest chance to fail of anything I’ve ever done.

Today we launch the MAYDAY Citizens’ SuperPAC — the “moneybomb” Matt Miller wrote that we were working on about a year ago, and the “moonshot” wrote about last month. Think of it as a “SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs,” built first from small-dollar contributions, which, if we’re successful, will be matched by larger contributions.

That’s the leaping bit: We’ve structured this as a series of matched-contingent goals. We’ve got to raise $1 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $1 million matched. Then we’ve got to raise $5 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $5 million matched as well. If both challenges are successful, then we’ll have the money we need to compete in 5 races in 2014. Based on those results, we’ll launch a (much much) bigger effort in 2016 — big enough to win.

The ultimate aim is to spend enough to win a majority in Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We’ve spent the last year gaming out how much that would cost. I think it is feasible and possible — if we can take these first steps successfully now.

And that’s the leap: It is impossibly hard to imagine raising $1 million in 30 days, even as a contingent commitment (meaning, you only get charged if we hit the goal). I get that. But we’ve got to try. For if we succeed, we can change the story of this democracy; we can give people a sense that we can actually claim it back. And we can build a momentum, I believe, that no billionaire’s SuperPAC could defeat.

Or at least, that’s the dream that inspires this leap. Help me if you can (understanding, I’ve already made the leap!). Make a pledge at MayOne.US. Or at least, share MayOne.US with anyone you believe might be willing to help. And if you have great ideas about how we can make this take off, please share them, either in email to me at or in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who has helped so far — especially my friend Brian Boyko who pulled the site together from scratch in 2 weeks. And thanks to all who have expressed their real and personal concern about how hard it will be to leap and fail. I don’t believe we’ll fail. There’s a frustration and hunger for reform that I really believe could matter. But if we do fail, then I’ve got three young kids, and an amazing wife, and I (think I still) have tenure at a great university (where this year I’ve had the INCREDIBLE experience of teaching undergraduates). So the worst case isn’t that bad. And the best case is the beginning of hope.

So please help if you can. Spread this far if you can.

Here’s the introductory video that I made for MayOne.US:

Mayday PAC Launch from lessig on Vimeo.

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