DiscoverYour Undivided AttentionThey Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig
They Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig

They Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig

Update: 2022-10-202


We often talk about the need to protect American democracy. But perhaps those of us in the United States don't currently live in a democracy.

As research shows, there's pretty much no correlation between the percentage of the population that supports a policy and its likelihood of being enacted. The strongest determinant of whether a policy gets enacted is how much money is behind it.

So, how might we not just protect, but better yet revive our democracy? How might we revive  the relationship between the will of the people and the actions of our government?

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're doing something special. As we near the election, and representation is on our minds, we're airing a talk by Harvard Law professor and Creative Commons co-founder Larry Lessig. It's a 2019 talk he gave at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC about his book, They Don't Represent Us.

The book title has two meanings: first, they — as in our elected representatives — don't represent us. And second, we — as in the people — don't represent ourselves. And this is where social media comes in: we don't represent ourselves because the more we use social media, the more we see extreme versions of the other side, and the more extreme, outraged, and polarized we ourselves become.

Last note: Lessig's talk is highly visual. We edited it lightly for clarity, and jump in periodically to narrate things you can’t see. But if you prefer to watch his talk, you can find the link below in Recommended Media.


Video: They Don't Represent Us

The 2019 talk Larry Lessig gave at Politics and Prose in Washington, DC about his book of the same name

Book: They Don't Represent Us

Larry Lessig’s 2019 book that elaborates the ways in which democratic representation is in peril, and proposes a number of solutions to revive our democracy -- from ranked-choice voting to non-partisan open primaries

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens 

Princeton's Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page study measuring the correlation between the preferences of different groups and the decisions of our government


Digital Democracy is Within Reach with Audrey Tang

How Political Language Is Engineered with Drew Westen and Frank Luntz

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

Comments (1)


we're supposed to be a democratic republic, but whatever...we're not that either anymore.

Oct 20th








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They Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig

They Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig

Lawrence Lessig, Tristan Harris