As we've mentioned before, our biggest obstacle is not any sort of organized opposition, but the idea among many if not most Americans that removing the system of corruption from Washington is an unsolvable problem.
Our job as activists is to show people - not just in New Hampshire, but across the United States, that the conventional wisdom is wrong. This is a solvable problem.
In fact, there are many possible solutions to the problem. At last count: at least two proposed bills that would provide some measure of citizen-funding for campaigns, amendments to the Constitution that can be proposed at an Article V convention, Prof. Lessig’s “Grant and Franklin” plan, and even some unconventional ideas, including one person who suggested on Google+ that we eliminate elections altogether and effectively draw straws to determine who represents us in Congress. (We’d assume that whoever got the short straw has to be the representative.)
We have some really wonderful, smart, experienced creative people working on real solutions to this problem. But that also creates a dilemma.
We have to prove to most Americans that the assumption that this is an unsolvable problem is incorrect. Our biggest piece of evidence in favor of our argument would be one of the vast number of solutions to this problem.
But every solution has pros and cons, and each would require great amount of examination and discussion before implementation - not just by academics and lawyers but across the dinner table, at the barbershop, at the watercooler and in-between classes.
Deciding what form reform should take is clearly step #2.
Step #1 means ensuring that the system of corruption is Issue #1. Once we get the nation to agree that reform is needed, then we can have the debate over what form that reform should take.
To be certain, step #2 is the fun step. Deciding what form to take will result in tons of discussions from the dinner table to television panels, and lots of lovely statements and misstatements for the late night comedians. But we’re not quite there yet.
The New Hampshire Rebellion is fully focused on Step #1. We’re not out to propose solutions to the problem - the One Question we intend to ask presidential hopefuls is not “Will You Support Act X?” but “How will you end the system of corruption in Washington?”
It’s a deliberately open-ended question. Any politician can make a yes or no answer to a question about a particular solution, (and the clever ones will be able to say both yes and no at the same time), but the open-ended question ensures that when the candidate answers we’ll be able to tell whether or not they’ve seriously been thinking about possible solutions. We’ll know if they truly recognize that the system of corruption in Washington is truly dysfunctional and unsustainable - or if they see no problem with the status quo.
And even if they’re not thinking about the problem of corruption in Washington, after being asked that question a couple dozen times, they will be. At least if they want to win.
Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with looking at some of the proposed political solutions to this problem - and even saying “I want reform, but not this particular bill.” If you’re interested in finding out more information about specific solutions, and the pros and cons of each, you can head to Rootstrikers.org, Represent.us, DemandProgress.org… but the truth is, by naming even those few sites, we know we leave out dozens of equally important others with different ideas about what form reform should take.
But for anyone asking us “How do you propose to solve the problem of corruption in Washington?” - you’re asking the wrong people. That’s the question we should be asking every candidate.