Internet prophet and genius Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig is exploring a run for the presidency. And he might just be the most interesting candidate (sorry, Donald) in the primaries.
Lessig just reached the committee exploration stage and says he’ll announce either way by Labor Day, asking voters to back him in his pursuit of the “presidency as referendum.” See, Lessig doesn’t want to be Commander in Chief; what he wants is to secure the Citizen Equality Act of 2017, a blazing reform package that would establish voter protection laws, establish new ways of electing representatives, and emphasize citizen-funded elections. Once that’s done, he says he’ll happily resign from office.
In his The Huffington Post piece, “Why I Want to Run,” Lessig explains that even candidates he greatly admires, such as Bernie Sanders, will be unable to effect sweeping change as long as their attention remains split by the multiple issues at their campaign’s core. It doesn’t help that the average citizen’s influence is just greater than nil.
In no plausible sense do we have a representative democracy in America today. That fact shows itself in a thousand ways — from #BlackLivesMatter to billion dollar SuperPACs, and none more profound than the deep sense that most Americans have that their government is not theirs. “The system,” as Elizabeth Warren puts it, “is rigged.” And the fundamental challenge for our democracy today is to find a way to fix that rigged system.
Lessig made a name for himself in the Internet’s infancy by co-founding Creative Commons, and campaign finance has been his major focus over the last few years — he led a 185-mile walk across New Hampshire for the cause in 2014. The New Republic wrote at least some of that devotion could be traced to the late Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who killed himself when faced with federal prosecution for taking articles from an academic database. He’s also connected to some deep pockets, having formerly been chairman and CEO of Mayday PAC - committed to backing candidates who’d reform campaign finance laws and raising millions from tech moguls like Sean Parker and Reid Hoffman. It’s not Trump money, but it’s a start.
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