July 22, 2014 10:30 AM

By launching a Super PAC to end all Super PACs, our Top 50 keynote speaker hopes to change the game in Washington.

By launching a Super PAC to end all Super PACs, our Top 50 keynote speaker hopes to change the game in Washington.

Lawrence Lessig  

While shopping recently, I came across a small drop necklace with a delicate gold charm inscribed in tiny script: Be the Change. Although I gave it to our daughter as a gift, I think about it often, a steady reminder that each of us can make a difference in the world and that small acts of kindness or courage do, in fact, matter.

Now that we're all linked via social media, such actions can gather strength exponentially in ways never before imagined. That connectivity will prove extremely important as we deal with the biggest and toughest issues facing us, challenges that might otherwise be out of scale to fix. Case in point: the corruptive impact of money in politics in the U.S., especially at the highest levels of government.

There is little debate that the current system is broken, but the big risk to our future is the creeping cynicism and acceptance among Americans everywhere that there is no hope for change. Perhaps the country's most powerful less-than-one-percent like the status quo just fine (they wield the greatest influence in primary elections in this post-Citizens United age), but I have yet to meet anyone who thinks today's pay-to-play model is in the best interest of our democracy. This includes elected officials at all levels of government who privately despise the amount of time they must spend dialing for dollars to fund the ever-present next campaign. Sadly, few among them have emerged as champions for the change that is necessary for meaningful, systemic reform.

There is a powerful new thought leader at the nexus of this conversation: Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig. He has been called the Internet's most celebrated lawyer and is now a key player on the nation's campaign finance reform front. As the co-founder of Stanford's School for the Internet and Society, Lessig understands the power of social media, but even he has been surprised by the response to his recent Kickstarter-type drive to fund what he calls "a SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs." Launched earlier this summer, Lessig's May Day PAC project had two thresholds for viability.

After surpassing the first goal of $1 million dollars in small contributions in 30 days, he also crossed over the next goal of $5 million by Independence Day. At last report, the PAC was at $7.6 million in contributions and climbing.

Lessig is a respected author, a popular TED Talk presenter and has been named as one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries. We look forward to hosting him in Lafayette. If Lessig's campaign for change is successful, this event will be part of history in the making.

The Top 50 Business luncheon is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 20. For tickets for the luncheon and lecture, contact Robin Hebert (robinh@theind.com or by phone at 337-769-8603). As always, theater-style seating for our events is available at no charge, but please RSVP to ensure a seat.

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