Tea party activists made common cause with anti-corporate liberals this weekend at a venue quite unlike the firebrand populist movement: Harvard Law School. The improbable allies met to discuss the possibility of a new constitutional convention to address what they see as fundamental failures in the American system of government.
The Constitutional Convention Conference — “ConConCon” for short — was co-sponsored by Harvard Law and Tea Party Patriots, and chaired by professor and copyright cyber-lawyer Lawrence Lessig and Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler. Representatives from the Cato Institute, Rebuild Democracy, Common Cause, Goldwater Institute, Coffee Party and the Communication Workers of America also took part. (RELATED: Tea Party group to convene conference… at Harvard)
“The Framers created a method for escaping from captured government: An Article V Constitutional Convention,” a statement on the conference website reads. “The conference’s lead organizers are both proponents and opponents of an Article V convention and we actively encourage the participation of those who support a convention and those who oppose holding a convention at all.”
In his Saturday keynote address, Lessig said the undemocratic influence of political contributions was one reason for calling a convention. He blasted the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, citing the undue influence of $6.3 million in Disney lobbying money that pushed through the 20-year extension.
Then, in a libertarian-spirited moment, Lessig blamed America’s obesity epidemic on the market-distorting effect of sugar tariffs and corn subsidies, and the massive sums paid to lobbyists that keep them in place.
Tea Party Patriots has stated that while it doesn’t support calling for a convention yet, its leaders are interested in exploring the idea.
In a Harvard Crimson op-ed Thursday, the Marxist writer and Communist scholar Raymond Lotta warned that the weekend meeting might “legitimate the reactionary Tea Party movement. He defended an “alternative” constitution developed by Revolutionary Communist Party Chairman Bob Avakian.