photo by tom brownI have to say, this was one of the highlights of my time at Netroots Nation. Larry Lessig is an amazing speaker, period. His powerpoint presentation was stunning, with individual words and phrases showing up on the big screens as he said them, and many funny and fascinating photos and videos as examples.

The overarching theme of Lessig’s presentation was “9%.” He even had us chant it – “nine per-cent.” After a few examples, he came out with it – 9% is the amount of people who believe that our government is performing its function to the best of its ability. This particularly had to do with the ability of our leaders to stay fair when money comes into the equation.

He used examples that ranged from the sugar industry managing to make the national standard for daily sugar intake 25% (omg, ridiculous) to Hillary Clinton’s change of vote on a bill to crack down on credit card debt after she had received contributions from credit companies.

Then, as many of the speakers at NN08 did, he called on us — the bloggers — to take responsibility for calling leaders out on these problems. He said, “You are central to building the solution to this problem” and “remaking democracy.”

And finally, he announced a new project that he and Joe Trippi have championed. It’s a site called Change Congress, where citizens and candidates can pledge to support any of these four reforms:

– No money from lobbyists or PACs
– Vote to end earmarks
– Support reform to increase Congressional transparency
– Support publicly-financed campaigns

There is also a lot more to the site, including volunteering info, a blog, and a way to contribute to candidates who have taken this pledge. It’s a fascinating site, and they are currently mobilizing to put together a blogger council, create a targeted donations project and send messages to all candidates and members of Congress asking them to respond to this pledge.

At the end of his speech, he showed a clip of a video of Al Gore on Ted Talks and had the entire audience chant, “We have to solve the democracy crisis.”