Over the course of the summer, we've had the privilege of working with a team of six smart, dedicated, talented young people through our Democracy Fellowship program, in partnership with the Foundation for Civic Leadership and Democracy Matters. You may have seen them at walks, fairs, or other events, but here's your chance to get to know them! Get to know Taisuke:
Hello, my name is Taisuke Iwasaki. I’m from Japan and have attended New England College as an international student, and graduated about 3 month ago. New Hampshire has a great and beautiful nature, that is what I like about this state. It is much easier to access to the great nature here compared to my hometown. I studied political science at college and it was the greatest experience and changed my view towards politics. I used to hate politics because I often saw my parents and other adults around me criticizing a greed of politicians and corruption in government. But when I read about people who fought against oppression and corruption, one of the most influential stories to me was the United States Declaration of Independence. The founding fathers’ fight against oppression and corruption gave me a passion to tackle political issues.
For my senior thesis, I focused on money in politics, which is exactly what I’m doing here at Open Democracy. I believe there are many people who are joining this campaign finance reform movement and each of them have a different stories. My motivation for this issue is to get market value out from politics. I understand that it sounds strange if I say get market value out from politics because it is a business word. However, I believe the logic of buying and selling is intervening in political norm. There are good values in our lives which cannot be sold or bought by money.
This is what I have learned form Harvard professor Michael Sandel, who wrote a book called What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. I believe if someone spends gigantic amounts of money in politics, it can buy an influence in politics, in other word a special ticket to access politics. However, it simply corrupts democracy and political equality because the ticket is much expensive for general constituents and not many people can buy that. So, I believe public funding would be good way to solve our campaign finance problem.
Anyway, that was my background and thoughts about the issue. This fellowship is a great opportunity and really fun. But it’s not just fun, it’s politics, and people always have different ideas and backgrounds. I realize that especially when I’m doing public outreach - there are many different people with unique backgrounds and thoughts. So, for me mutual respect is the most important thing. Politics always needs a good quality of discussion to work.