Recoding Washington


The rumors have been floating around for a week or two: Will the legal guru Lawrence Lessig run for Congress? Now the man himself informs us that…he's not sure yet:

At, you can watch a 10 minute video explaining the launching of a Change Congress movement, and the decision I am trying to make about whether to run for Congress. That decision will be made soon. I've been spurred to consider it seriously by the enormous support of many at and facebook (and by the cool swag at zazzle). Those three I had nothing to do with. But this I do.

This is a very difficult decision. In the coming days, I'll reflect a bit about it here. Thank you to everyone who has tried to help—both through very strong words of encouragement and very very strong words to dissuade.

While I have my disagreements with Lessig about copyright and telecom policy, his views in those areas are far, far better than you'll hear from almost every elected official in America. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like those issues will play a role in his potential campaign, which is centered around the vaguer idea of restricting "the power of money in Washington." Lessig says he wants to ban earmarks and have publicly financed elections. I like the first idea and dislike the second, but I can't work up much passion about either.

Elsewhere in Reason: I interviewed Lessig in 2002. David Post reviewed his book Free Culture in 2004.

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  1. The closet leftists masquerading as cosmo-libertarian are getting on my nerves. If you really want to blame America first and surrender, be my guest. Guiliani for VP, 08!

  2. I’ve got no problem working up passion for banning earmarks

  3. While I also don’t agree with all of his positions on copyrights, I always find his talks on copyrights enlightening.

    However, his little video at lessig08 represents the typical liberal mindset: we need a better system/people to better control government’s power, not we need to reduce the power of government. Sigh.

  4. I’ve got no problem working up passion for banning earmarks

    Agreed, but it seems like they are presented to distract us from far worse spending crimes. Funny how we hear every politician cry about earmarks, yet spending continues to increase.

  5. I wonder, how would Dondero’s show play if he’d never discovered the political utility of using fear to secure votes?

    Would he still be a LINO (Libertarian In Name Only) war whore?

  6. I’m not sure, but I think (I definitely wouldn’t be surprised) if Lessig opposed (in principle, at least) the War on Drugs. I assume he’s excellent on civil liberties, and his relatively revolutionary ideas about copyright (he created the Creative Commons license) show that he’s not [yet] part of the entrenched establishment.

    His fondness for publicly-financed elections really bothers me, as this seems like the antithesis of free speech and is treating the symptom (corporate influence on government) instead of the cause (the fact that the federal government is structured such that it can be influenced by corporations).

    Nevertheless, I joined the ‘Draft Lessig’ Facebook group.

  7. If this were Fark, “Nevertheless, I joined the [lefty join-up of the day] Facebook group” would be the last line of every cosmo-mocking comment here for the next five years.

  8. Lessig says he wants to ban earmarks and have publicly financed elections.

    We have publicly financed elections. The issue is publicly financed election campaigns.

    So? I’m a jerk. Sue me.

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