Update on Netroots Nation 08 Day 3: Gore, Doggett, Lessig, and Courage

Public Citizen is a national sponsor of this year’s Netroots Nation conference, and as the Austin Texas office of Public Citizen is happy to play host. We’ve met so many great people and been in so many excellent meetings. We’re also proud that we launched this, our Texas blog, in concert with NN08. Today has been incredibly busy and wonderful, so let me fill all of you in who weren’t here.

Since I work on global warming issues, I had been paying attention to Al Gore’s new ideas about going to a completely non-fossil fuel, non polluting economy.


But I was wondering why Gore hadn’t announced this originally to the Netroots crowd, some of his most ardent supporters. This morning I kept hearing rumors… and then when I got here Gore was, indeed, doing a Q&A along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Gore answered some great questions, especially when it came to global warming, including incredibly nuanced positions on nuclear energy.

One of our Congressmae here in Austin, Lloyd Doggett, was also here. Congressman Doggett is a sponsor of the Climate MATTERS Act, one of the stronger climate change bills currently in the House. After the Q&A I was lucky enough to shake the Congressman’s hand, and I took the time to ask him about co-sponsoring a piece of legislation to create full public financing for Congressional elections. He’ll get back to us, but if you’re a constituent of Congressman Doggett’s, give his office a call: 512-916-5921 (Austin), 202-225-4865 (DC) and tell him you support public financing.

As fate would have it, during lunch we would also talk about campaign finance and hear from none other than Lawrence Lessig. He made the major case that there is a reason Congress only has a 9% approval rating– that We the People no longer trust that the outcomes from Congress are based on the best arguments and facts, but rather on who gives the largest donations. Lessig is an amazing speaker, and his words could not have been more appropriate. He echoed Gore’s sentiment that we do not have an environmental crisis or a military crisis or an economic crisis– we have a democracy crisis. So he unveiled change-congress.org where you can sign on and take a voters pledge to support public financing, earmark reform, etc, and then organize to let your member of Congress know how many of us support open, clean government.

Immediately after lunch, I had the pleasure to meet with former Congressional candidate from San Antonio John Courage. His True Courage Action Network sponsored an organizing session around public financing in Texas, attempting to mirror the successes in Arizona, Maine, and other areas that have full public financing of elections. The result in those states and cities that have embraced public financing are astounding: increased voter satisfaction, increased voter turnout, more participation from minority and economically diverse candidates (ie, it’s not all a bunch of rich, white mean who run and win anymore), and, amazing, increased satisfaction from politicians who run clean. You can read more about clean elections here and stay informed about clean elections by visiting our sister site cleanupwashington.org.

Until next time,