Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig Enters the Presidential Race

The Harvard law prof said he'd enter the race if he could raise $1 million by Labor Day. This morning he hit his goal.


Move over, Martin O'Malley!
Lessig Equal Citizens Exploratory Committee

Lawrence Lessig has officially entered the presidential race. The Harvard law professor announced on August 11 that he would seek the Democratic nomination if he could raise $1 million by Labor Day, and this morning he reached his goal. If elected to the White House, Lessig pledges to pursue one piece of legislation—a set of electoral reforms he calls the Citizen Equality Act—and then resign in favor of his vice president, whoever that might turn out to be. In that way, he says, he can make the election a referendum on campaign reform without letting other issues get in the way.

His reform plan has several elements, but the centerpiece is a voucher-based system of public funding for elections, where citizens can direct a portion of their own taxes to the candidates of their choice. While this isn't objectionable in itself—it's certainly preferable to the current Presidential Election Campaign Fund, since it lets people choose where the dollars they donate go—I'm dubious that it'll have the sweeping effects that Lessig expects. The place where it has the most chance of having an impact is when someone would rather keep his money than send it to a candidate but would rather send it to a candidate than send it to the IRS. I'm sure that could affect some elections along the margins, but I don't see it turning the political world upside down.

I'm even more skeptical about Lessig's gimmick of pledging to pursue one bill and then resign. He thinks this would make the election a referendum on campaign reform, but I suspect it's just as likely to make it a referendum on his running mate.

But I gave Lessig space to make his case when I interviewed him after his initial announcement, and if you'd like to see where he's coming from you should check out that Q&A. And if you want to see how he feels about an entirely different set of issues—intellectual property and Internet regulation—you should read the interview I did with him back in 2002. If nothing else, I hope he manages to get onstage at the Democratic debates. He's certainly preferable to Clinton, and while I have a hard time imagining him winning the nomination, he's bound to make the race more interesting.

NEXT: Watch Matt Welch Talk Black Lives Matter at 11 a.m. on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No one I know voted for Lessig.

    1. That’s because they voted…FOR HITLER!!!

  2. OT: Fox Writer compares Kim Davis to black people getting blasted with fire hoses during the Civil Rights era.

    “I truly believe Judge Bunning wanted to intimidate Christians and send a very clear message ? that resistance to same-sex marriage will not be tolerated — doing with the gavel what Bull Connor tried to do with dogs and fire hoses.”

    1. Hyperbolic comparisons to actual hardship are becoming the norm in our First World Problems world, dude. Expect shitloads more of it.

      1. Ugh. I. Just. Can’t. Even.

        But seriously, the hyperbole and the language used to express it kind of pisses me off.

        1. “That was–and I don’t say this lightly–worse than a hundred September 11ths.”

      2. You know who else made hyperbolic comparisons?

        1. Bojack Horseman?

        2. About 3/4 of Hit+Run commenters?

      3. Being put in jail is a pretty nasty thing. I wouldn’t call the comparison hyperbolic.

    2. That’s Todd Starnes, who has the distinction of being the dumbest fucking human being from my dimwitted cowtown of a hometown.

      Your average Wal-Mart associate manager has a much greater IQ than this shamless, MSNBC-grade bomb lobber.

      1. shameless, even

  3. Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    So it’s to be a constitutional amendment then?

    When will these idiots (the public) realize that the solution is to limit government power not people’s rights? Sitting congressmen have no need for campaign contributions if they cannot be reelected. One and done (with intervening votes of confidence).

    1. Yeah, but that was written 100 years ago by white slaveholders.

      1. And the article right above this one is pretty good proof that the constitution is null and void anyway.

        1. Hey, Hyp, why do you think the NAP doesn’t cover economics/free markets?

          Or did I misunderstand you in the last thread?

          1. Well, I wasn’t saying that at all, I was just assuming that the guy talking… Block I think is his name, was saying that because he was saying that there’s no left or right in libertarian, it’s just all the NAP. I disagree with that because you have to take a side against the left if you’re for free markets. Hope that makes sense.

            1. I haven’t watched the vid yet, but I tend to agree that there is not a right/left libertarian, as the NAP is neither a right or left concept.

              Applying the NAP to individual issues sometimes lands you on common ground with either the right or the left, but usually not based upon the same reasoning.

              When it comes to individuals, it’s a matter of how libertarian are you. IOW how close do you come to strict adherence to the NAP and/or how many exceptions to it you want to make (realizing there are variations/alternatives to the NAP). Most of us fall short, as only anarchists completely comply with it.

              I personally believe there is a very limited role for government, but that belief wouldn’t be categorized as either right or left leaning.

              My .02

              1. I haven’t watched the vid yet, but I tend to agree that there is not a right/left libertarian, as the NAP is neither a right or left concept

                Well, I agree. I mean I totally understand the concept that every libertarian position is covered by the NAP. You’ll have to watch it and then I think you’ll understand why I have problem with the way Block presents this.

              2. It would be characterized as extremely right wing by the left, and as extremely left wing by the right…

    2. Fucked up your tags, Frankie!

      1. Oops. Well, the good news is, almost 50% of H&R commenters will be able to identify where the 1st amendment ends.

        1. The First amendment ends? When? I wanna be prepared.

          1. About 1916.

    3. The problem is precisely the people’s rights. Lessig knows that the only good government is government by unaccountable permanent overlords.

    4. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

      Well, that horse left the barn long ago, when “religion” became a protected class under civil rights and public accommodation laws, which requires the government to determine whether the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a “religion” or not. And the term “Congress shall..” has somehow mutated into “No level of government shall…”.

      In any case, forcing businesses to do things that its owners find religiously objectionable is hardly a law “establishing religion” or “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It’s a law interfering with the free exercise of business, which doesn’t seem to be constitutionally guaranteed. Since other people have to abide by civil rights and public accommodation laws even if they find it objectionable and immoral, people shouldn’t get a free pass just because they say that the Invisible Pink Unicorn told them not to obey the law.

    5. When will these idiots (the public) realize that the solution is to limit government power not people’s rights?

      “Solution” to what? The public doesn’t care that a bunch of Christian conservatives are getting their panties in a knot over issuing marriage licenses or baking cakes they don’t want to bake; they don’t care because it’s not really a practical problems.

      A principled libertarian might care about that issue as much as he would care about the ability of a neo-Nazi to speak freely in public, but it is not otherwise a problem in need of a solution.

  4. What this country needs in more Ivy League academics running things.

    1. Yeah. Consider all the great stuff that happened from 1913 to 1918: World War I, Prohibition, the Federal Reserve, the income tax, and direct election of senators. Brought to you by the esteemed scholar and former president of Princeton, Woodrow Wilson.

      1. Don’t forget the segregation of federal employees and the arrest of people for merely speaking out against the draft.

  5. Bring on the election of clowns: Trump vs. Lessig

    Pretend-populist vs. Faux-intellectual. It’s going to be fucking great.

    1. Trump will say something mean to Lessig, he’ll be triggered by the micro aggression, and fall over dead on stage.

      1. That’s what we call a ‘best-case scenario’.

  6. Worst Harvard windbag: Lessig or Lieawatha?

    1. Lessig makes sense sometimes, and isn’t merely a leftist hack.

      1. No, Lessig isn’t a leftist hack, he is an intellectual, i.e., someone whose success depends on saying things that other people think are clever or smart. The latter has historically been more destructive.

        1. Example: Krugman

          1. Other examples: Karl Marx, Joseph Ratzinger, Martin Heidegger, Charles Davenport, John Maynard Keynes, etc.

            Krugman is an impotent intellectual midget in comparison with no significant effect on the world; he’s lucky if he amounts to a footnote in history.

      2. Lessig is a leftist hack.

  7. Harvard- the point of origin of the best Constitutional scholarship in the nation.

  8. I hope he manages to get onstage at the Democratic debates

    What debates would that be?

  9. If I were a candidate and forced to accept public funding, I’d use it to have all my campaign ads feature hardcore porn.

    Well, except for the one that had simulated images of Preet Bharara being fed into a woodchipper.

    1. Then I would vote against you on principal.

      There is olenty of free hardcore porn out there why would you waste public funds to purchase it ?

      So, will you also take my tax dollars to purchase porn when the necessary amount for government consumption is on the webz for free ?

  10. What a great scam. He raises a million dollars by Labor Day, which he did. Now, he gets to spend it on his ‘campaign’. I wish I had thought of this.

    1. “20 million or God will call me home! Operators are standing by!”


  11. Like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, he’s just another joke candidate. Which of course leaves us the REAL candidates, such as…. Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush. FUCK.

    1. Well, I just saw a poll that has Bernie up on Hillary by 11 points in NH. Of course, all of the polls are completely meaningless this far out.

      1. “-has Bernie up on Hillary…”

        Did not need that picture in my head. Dammit.

    2. Ted Cruz would not be totally terrible from a libertarian standpoint.

      1. You are right my man.

        he is the best non libertarian candidate out there and has shown that if he runs on a issue he will operate on that promise once in office. That alone sets him off from most politicians, especially Marco Pubio.

      2. Cruz is an Obama-esque creep who would say anything if it meant he could hold the reins of power. He’s one of the few candidates who I don’t feel that I have a handle on, which makes me think that he’s a Stalin in waiting were he to ever be appointed to an executive position.

        And the fact that he’s clearly intelligent is even more worrisome. Obama is the moron who lectured the media about how Canadian tar sands oil wouldn’t affect American oil prices; he’s the Dunning-Kruger effect made flesh.

        Cruz is a brilliant debater who’s spent his whole life positioning himself to achieve executive power, and he’s had zero help along the way as a first-gen immigrant. As potent an antidote to the Clinton/Obama regime as he might be, I wouldn’t mind if he fell on a sex scandal or two and wound up being an ambassador to Ireland for the next 40 years.

        1. I don’t think Cruz is the ‘say anything to get elected’ type at all. If anything, he’s proven that he’s willing and able to stick with the issues that elected him, despite bad press and political pressure.

      3. Ted Cruz would be a disaster from a libertarian standpoint. Cruz is another Harvard lawyer, with a wife working for Goldman Sachs.

        And now Cruz is Trump’s mini-me, a pathetic suck-up. He has no principles. He panders to whatever the most gullible part of “the conservative base” wants to hear.

        And he just looks creepy.

  12. If I were a candidate (for anything), I would turn to Professor Wagstaff for my campaign song:

    I don’t know what they have to say
    It makes no difference anyway
    Whatever it is, I’m against it!
    No matter what it is
    Or who commenced it
    I’m against it!

    Your proposition may be good
    But let’s have one thing understood
    Whatever it is, I’m against it!
    And even when you’ve changed it
    Or condensed it
    I’m against it!

    1. We need a few hundred congress critters that adopt that position. Nothing will ever get done. WIN!

  13. What this circus needs is more sideshows

  14. The really crazy thing is that Rand just suddenly disappeared. I didn’t think much about it at first, and it’s still really early. But his name is no longer even mentioned as a contender.

    1. He was at 5% in some poll they mentioned on ABC or NBC this morning. That might of been just for Iowa Everyone who isn’t a celebrity billionaire or retired pediatric neurosurgeon is in single digits nationally and almost everywhere. The good news, as far as I’m concerned, is Jeb is not only cratering but his negatives are skyrocketing and almost as high as Trump and higher than Hillary’s.

      The establishment of both parties is getting hammered.

  15. He’s certainly preferable to Clinton

    Quick question: is there anyone running who isn’t preferable to Clinton?

    1. Sanders (arguably), O’Malley, Graham, Christie. I imagine I could name a few others if I checked their records. The list is depressingly long.

      1. No one is worse than Clinton.

        Would you have her sell out the power of the office so she and Bill would no longer be dead broke when she leaves office ?

        1. I’d take Clinton over Sanders any fucking day of the week. And I absolutely HATE her.

          Hillary might be a criminal and liar, but Sanders makes George McGovern look like Alexander Hamilton.

    2. Hillary is an evil bitch, but she wouldn’t do too much to upset her buddies on Wall Street. Most likely, she’d just get us into another few wars just to show that she has balls.

  16. “…He’s certainly preferable to Clinton,…”


    1. Ooops. Late again.

    2. The upside of Clinton is that she could very well kill the Democratic party and introduce another noun into the mix for the first time in more than a century.

  17. And so, another scam artist hits the road!

    The more the merrier, I say 🙂 .

    In your dreams Lessig is not a scam,
    In your dreams Donald Trump is not a scam
    In your dreams Sanders is not a scam,
    In your dreams Clinton is not a scam,
    In your dreams, all the rest are not a scam”

    “In your dreams Obama is not a scam,
    “In your dreams George Bush was not a scam,
    “In your dreams Clinton was not a scam,
    “In your dreams Reagan was not a scam,
    In your dreams, all the rest were not a scam”
    “In your dreams the constitution is not a scam,
    “In your dreams the Supreme Court is not a scam,
    “In your dreams, welfare is not a scam”
    “In your dreams, social security is not a scam ”
    And so on and so forth, ad infinitum 🙂 .

    Original music and lyrics: “Dreams[ Hormegeddon Blues]”:

    So, dream on, or not? As always, your choice dear reader. 🙂

    Regards, onebornfree.

  18. If this guy really is serious he should start realizing that this country is not a democracy,
    so why would you think it would act like one? Obama is pushing his idiotic Irantreaty despite only 25% support, and nobody can stop the dope. When the issues are decided by public votes rathert han votes bytheir “representatives,” you will reach your goal. Fidling with campaign financingis a red herring.

  19. Why is Reason covering this marxist academic?

  20. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

  21. Bring on the election of clowns: Trump vs. Lessig

    Pretend-populist vs. Faux-intellectual. It’s going to be fucking great.

  22. You gotta raise money to stop people from raising money.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.