Lawrence Lessig

Will Lawrence Lessig Be Locked Out of the Debates?

The Democratic presidential candidate needs at least 1 percent support to get onstage—but most of the polls haven't been including him.


Lewis/Gilbert 2016
Lessig 2016 Store

Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard law professor and Democratic presidential candidate, has published a piece in Politico complaining that he may be unjustly barred from his party's upcoming debates. He has a point: Candidates will be invited to this month's debate if they're getting at least 1 percent support in the polls, but most of the polls have been leaving Lessig out, creating a catch-22. If Lincoln Chafee, who's hardly even campaigning, can appear onstage with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, I don't see why Lessig shouldn't get a shot too. At the very least, more pollsters should include him in their surveys.

Lessig's article also gives readers a glimpse at his broader policy preferences. The gimmick of the Lessig campaign is that he's pledging to push for one major bill if he's elected—a collection of electoral reforms he's calling the Citizen Equality Act—and then resign in favor of his vice president. In theory, therefore, his positions on all the other issues are secondary, at least until it's time to pick a running mate. But his Politico piece marshals up a list of changes that he wants but does not expect to see Congress pass unless something like the Citizen Equality Act is enacted:

Like Clinton and Sanders and O'Malley, I believe America needs urgent and important reform: it needs a minimum wage that is a living wage, it needs climate change legislation, it needs to respect the equality of citizens and end—finally—the second class status that too many Americans know. It needs a health care system that Americans can afford. It needs to stop subsidizing oil companies, and stop tolerating their pollution. It needs the courage to stand up to the banks, it needs to restore safety to the financial system, it needs an immigration policy that promises some of the hardest working Americans that they can become citizens and it needs sane gun laws that keep machine guns away from the sorts who would massacre school children.

In other words, Lessig's a liberal. We already knew that, but now you have a pithy paragraph summing it up. In the unlikely event that the man is elected, that series of sentences should be a pretty good guide to the agenda his former veep would pursue after President Lessig resigns. (Though if he tries to limit anyone's access to machine guns, he'll be surprised to discover that they've already been virtually banned for several decades.)

Bonus links: I interviewed Lessig about his platform here, and I interviewed him about some other stuff here.

NEXT: Justin Amash: Too Useful to Be House Speaker?

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  1. Who?

    1. That was my question as well

      1. That was my first question. My second was ” Who gives a shit?”.

    2. I hope you learned your Lessig.

  2. Will Lawrence Lessig Be Locked Out of the Debates?


    No real need to elaborate further.

  3. it needs sane gun laws that keep machine guns away from the sorts who would massacre school children.

    Since full-auto, select-fire guns are near impossible to get without a lot of (expensive!) paper work, ATF checks, etc., we’re done here, right?

    1. Further….

      “It needs a health care system that Americans can afford.”

      We got that last time around. Wait, that’s not working out as promised? Huh.

      1. “America needs sounds bites giving empty platitudes that if unexamined no one would disagree with.”

        Also, I’m against those things that everybody hates.

        1. I respect you Epi, and I think you’re a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything you just said.


          1. Let’s get everyone to wear khaki for vague problem awareness month.

        3. Also, I’m against those things that everybody hates.

          Uh-hu, uh-hu.That’s whatever you were talking about for ya.

    2. You haven’t addressed the real issue here – Lessig apparently knows exactly who these sorts are who intend to massacre school children and all this idiot wants to do to them is keep them from getting their hands on machine guns. How’s about you tell us who those people are that intend to massacre school children and we can deal with them a little more forcefully?

    3. They look like scary machine guns and that’s what matters!

    4. it needs sane gun laws that keep machine guns away from the sorts who would massacre school children.

      In order to keep them away from the psychos, I propose we bolt them to the ground. And, since these psychos are out looking for these automatic weapons with seemingly zero intelligence, the best place to put them would probably be the last place they’d look. I’m thinking some sort of zone that we would nominally designate as being gun-free, like a school. On top of that, mounted machine guns are easier for children with weaker hands and poorer coordination to operate effectively when faced with opposition. Not to mention that deploying and supporting such weapons requires good team and social skills and teaches valuable lessons about respect for self, peers, and property as well as conflict resolution.

      I think my detailed, sane proposal is really a win-win for the people calling for vague ‘sane gun laws’.

      1. keep machine guns away from the sorts who would massacre school children.

        If he includes the cops in “those sorts”, I could be convinced to support this.

    5. Best way for schoolchildren to be safe is for schoolchildren to learn to cooperate and act as a team.
      Go Team!!

  4. Is Jim Webb above 1%? Without him it would just be people agreeing with each other and Marx.

  5. Sounds line some crazy old drunk dude. Like the dnc Trump.

  6. Would Reason please publish a complete, once-and-for-all, link-filled take-down of all this “raise the minimum wage” crap? It’s a classic example of a bad economic policy that sounds nice, but hurts the people it’s supposed to help.

    1. The hell are you talking about? It’s not intended to hurt anyone! It’s intended to help people! How dare you insult the good intentions of those who want to raise minimum wage! You monster!

      1. You have no reliable data on your side. Now lecture me about feelings over facts again.

        1. Fact: when the cost of something goes up it creates an incentive for people to buy less of it and/or find alternatives.

          Fact: raising the minimum wage raises the cost of employing young and unskilled workers.

          Thus raising the cost of employing young and unskilled workers creates an incentive to hire fewer of them and/or find alternatives such as automation.

          Don’t believe me? Go to a fast food restaurant. You’ll find self-serve drink machines, and in some you’ll even find kiosks where you can place your own order on a machine.

          Why? Because the machine is cheaper than paying someone minimum wage.

        2. Does raising the minimum wage cause widespread unemployment? No. Of course not. No one said it does.

          However if you look at the unemployment rate for young people, and especially young minorities who go to shitty public schools, you’ll find the rate of unemployment for them is much greater than the average. Why? Because they are the people who are not hired when the minimum wage is greater than what they can produce for their potential employer.

          Stick those facts in your pipe and smoke it.

          1. Does raising the minimum wage cause widespread unemployment? No. Of course not. No one said it does.

            One way these idiots refuse to acknowledge this basic fact is due to the fact that very, very few people actually work at the minimum wage and huger percentage of those that do are either a) young or b) part time. If young people don’t work, it often doesn’t even impact your unemployment rate since they’ll just drop out of the labor force entirely since they’re still living at home.

            Furthermore, so few people are actually working at the minimum wage that when you raise it slightly, few enough people are impacted by the slight wage increase spread across a small number of workers that any impact is almost indiscernible. You literally can’t tell the difference between a $7.50 and an $8.00 per hour minimum wage because it puts such a small additional amount into anyone’s pocket and causes so few people to lose their jobs.

            You’d see a much larger impact if you seriously think anyone in inner city Detroit could get a job at $15.00 an hour. Please.

            1. Look at youth labor participation rates

              clearly there are too many jobs for young people and we should create more barriers for employers

          2. I had this exact conversation with someone who thought the $15 minimum wage was a no-brainer good idea.

            It made no impression on her.

            We also talked about how high welfare opportunities makes it stupid for people who are on the gravy train to even look for a job. When I mentioned this sounded like a good reason to cut welfare, she started about how its complicated, blah blah.

            When FEELZ meet facts, facts lose.

            1. When FEELZ meet facts, facts lose.

              Tell me about it.

              me- “Let’s tax cigarettes and make them more expensive so people will quit or find alternatives!”

              libtard- “Yeah!”

              me- “Let’s tax carbon fuels and make them more expensive so people will by economy cars or electric vehicles or use public transport!”

              libtard- “Fuck yeah!”

              me- “Let’s raise the minimum wage and make employers hire fewer young and inexperienced workers!”

              libtard- “Oh hells yeah! What? Um, no! I’m confused…”

              1. I think I am in the minority around here regarding “sin taxes.” My view is that since we all know that taxing an activity produces less of that activity, why is it better to tax income or sales or investment or hiring than it is to tax alcohol or tobacco?

        3. “You have no reliable data on your side.”

          You mean like the CBO?

          “Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent, CBO projects (see the table below). ”

          1. I post this periodically, because I think it’s interesting and important: The Eugenics Plot of the Minimum Wage.

            1. In Congress at the time it was proposed, proponents of minimum wage openly proclaimed that it was needed to protect unionized white workers from blacks who were willing to work for less money.

              The originally stated intention of minimum wage was to keep minorities unemployed.

              Funny how it’s now being sold as giving minorities a raise.

              Politicians were a lot more honest a century ago.

            2. There was just an article in the Washington Post about how the US minimum wage is killing Puerto Rico because they’re bound by our minimum wage laws which are much too high for their economy.

              Prior to 1974, Congress held Puerto Rico’s minimum wage below that of the mainland, a sensible policy given the commonwealth’s lower level of economic development and labor productivity.

              Then, with the best of intentions, lawmakers ordered Puerto Rico to equalize its rate with the federal figure; this was phased in by 1983, and the Puerto Rican minimum wage has moved in lock-step with the federal minimum ever since.

              The results were sharply disruptive, according to a 1992 National Bureau of Economic Research analysis. They included “substantially reduced employment on the island” and mass migration of suddenly unemployable lower-skilled workers to the U.S. mainland.


              (Other than the fact that multiple government bureaucracies actually agree with our position, despite the fact that their agreement with us negatively impacts the people who pay their wages).

              No evidence at all.

              Destroying Tony is hilarious because he is incapable of producing evidence for any of his arguments.

              1. Who needs evidence when you’ve got personal attacks? I mean, if you throw enough names at a person and destroy their credibility, the everything they say is wrong. Duh. Everyone knows this.

  7. Uh oh…

    TRUTH: Mayonnaise Is The Worst Condiment – via @FDRLST

    ? Elizabeth N. Brown (@enbrown) October 2, 2015

    1. This is an outrage. Everyone knows the correct answer is Miracle Whip.

      1. That’s like comparing shit and vomit.

        1. How do you enjoy potato salad and deviled eggs without nice creamy mayo?

          1. I enjoy them by throwing them in the trash.


              *cradles tray of deviled eggs*

              1. We will never know piece until this country adopts common sense deviled egg reforms so we get these dangerous things off the street!

    2. That’s just factually incorrect.

    3. Well on the one hand I agree that mayonnaise is mankind’s most awful crime. But on the other hand, as an H&R commenter I have to assume that everything ENB posts is disingenuous trolling calculated to murder babies and rob me of my manhood.

      So conflicted…

      1. I’m just more and more confused as to how I ended up the Worst.

        1. The fact that you don’t know just reinforces how worst you are.

          Don’t fight it, Nicole. Accept your destiny. Join me on the dark side. Nicole, I am not your father. I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.

        2. You mean because I used ‘an’ in front of the H, right?

      2. You aren’t Nicole so you can skip the second part of your conundrum.

    4. Maybe she’s only familiar with that vegan knockoff mayonnaise that Bo eats.

  8. OT from TurgidPenetration: Another growth industry:…..n-lawsuit/

    People on probation have to pay PCC a number of regular fees on top of what they owe the court: $45 a month simply for being on probation, $20 for every drug test administered at the will of PCC probation officers, setup fees, community service fees, and others, all of which create profit for PCC. The suit even alleges that the company has been caught adding additional unlawful fees like a “picture fee.” It can also set up rules at its own discretion and extract more payments from those who break them. The probationers are threatened with arrest and jail if they don’t make payments. “As a matter of everyday routine, employees threaten probationers with jail and revocation [of their probation terms] in order to ensure larger collection by probation officers,” the lawsuit says.

    1. If they hadn’t done anything wrong then they wouldn’t be in the predicament! It’s their own damn fault!

      /law and orderp

      1. Sarc,

        Is it not just more efficient to use “/Tupla” rather than “/law and orderp”? I mean, other than that being kind of funny…

  9. The Democrat’s debate lineup is pretty sparse and disproportionate. I know in the GOP, Trump has enjoyed a high level of support for a relatively unusual amount of time but Democratic primaries seem much more preordained and ceremonial.

    1. “but Democratic primaries seem much more preordained and ceremonial.”

      Just the way her Highness prefers them.

      1. The more Hillary speaks, the more her numbers drop, so of course they are going to de-emphasize debates. And the rumor is that tickets for the first debate are going only to Hillary supporters.

  10. Lessig the pseudo-candidate of the sub 1%.

    1. Interestingly, he’s all over YouTube at the moment. I was trying to watch some music videos last night, and half of them started with Lessig campaign ads, some of them quite long.

  11. I agree with Lessig that we should get money out of politics. The problem is, he has the players exactly backwards. The problem isn’t rich people and big companies using donations to buy politicians, it’s politicians buying the donations of rich people and big companies using our tax dollars. As long as the government has lots of money to throw around, politicians will be able to use that government budget to buy political donations. The only way to get rid of that corruption is to shrink government to the point that donors can’t expect to get any ROI on political donations.

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