September 6, 2015

Harvard lawprof Lawrence Lessig announces he's running for President. "This stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work."

"And we have to find a way to elevate the debate to focus on the changes that would actually get us a government that could work again, that is not captured by the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent who fund campaigns and make it impossible for our government.... And also dealing with crazy way we have political gerrymandering where politicians pick the voters rather than the voters pick the politicians."

This morning on "This Week" (the Sunday show with George Stephanopoulos):
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, campaign finance reform, voting rights reform?... And you're saying that if you run, if you are running, if you win, if you become president and you pass that platform, you'll resign.

LESSIG: That's right. 
Reminds me of when Howard Stern ran for Governor of New York.  He said he'd fix 3 things and then resign. (His 3 things were: "pass the death penalty, let road crews work only at night, stagger highway tolls to prevent traffic jams.")

To me, this fix-something-and-quit idea reveals that the person is using the candidacy to promote the issue, getting leverage from the media's priority on covering candidates. But Stephanopoulos says: "That puts a lot of weight on who your vice president is."

76 comments:

rhhardin said...

It doesn't need finance reform but media reform. The idiots have to stop watching the MSM.

Make them make their money from sane people watching.

harrogate said...

It doesn't actually put extra weight on the VP choice because the things this guy says he wants to fix , no President can fix . If by some fluke he got elected he could stay in the White House 8 years and get nowhere on these issues. Does anyone think the owners of the country aware going to relinquish their power just because the President wants them too?

So yeah , knowing this , seems like what he's really doing is just trying to get media to miraculously focus on this stuff. Which would be wonderful, if it worked.

But it won't .

Hagar said...

The Harvard Quad would be a good place to test a neutron bomb.

Sebastian said...

"that is not captured by the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent who fund campaigns and make it impossible for our government . . ."

Ah, OK, so that's why Romney was wrong about the 47%.

But Prof Lessig, what do the 1% get out of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security/SSI, school lunches, SNAP, Pell grants, housing subsidies, and the EITC? Is that the part of government that "works" or would you include it in the stuff that doesn't?

Wince said...

Lessig!

- You forgot the exclamation point.

harrogate said...

Sebastian,

Those things you listed are precisely the kinds of things the 1% wants to make go away,. These are the things always borrowed against and slashed for "more important " things , things that benefit , you know , the 1%.

Mingus Jerry said...

But Prof Lessig, what do the 1% get out of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security/SSI, school lunches, SNAP, Pell grants, housing subsidies, and the EITC? Is that the part of government that "works" or would you include it in the stuff that doesn't?

It prevents the masses from rising up.

harrogate said...

Lol @ Mingus. Well played and much much more than a little true.

Wince said...

"Reminds me of when Howard Stern ran for Governor of New York."

Or "Fartman", whatever.

YoungHegelian said...

It takes some pretty big brass balls to be a Harvard law professor, working as he does for a "non-profit institution" that has a non-taxed endowment larger than the GNP of some small countries, to lecture the rest of us on rule by the "tiniest fraction of the 1%". Let's start our Revolution by expropriating Harvard's endowment to the striving masses! Who's with me here, comrades?!

Add just a few more Democratic candidates, and the Democrats will soon be able to fill their own clown car! Oh, wait, I forgot. Only Republicans who are running two non-politicians, a woman, a black guy, & two Cubans can have a clown car.

Sam L. said...

Yeah, like I should trust a college professor, in Law, at that, to be president. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooope.

rehajm said...

"And we have to find a way to elevate the debate to focus on the changes that would actually get us a government that could work again

This is the same old argument we heard the last two cycles- those damn Tea Partiers want gridlock! Well no, they are trying to stop your radical left agenda. If you want government to 'work' lefties could choose to be more pragmatic and centrist about your agenda. Electing enough Republicans would work, too.

rehajm said...

LESSIG: And also dealing with crazy way we have political gerrymandering where politicians pick the voters rather than the voters pick the politicians.

Democrats love gerrymandering when they can draw the maps.

harrogate said...

YoungHegelian,

I've never understood why when a rich person tries to advocate for the non-rich, or for less control of our country by the wealthy, along comes this argument "oh well he's rich himself so look what a hypocrite he is ."

It seems like such a gloomy vision of the world that you can't buy the idea of a wealthy person maybe thinking past their own nose now and again. The whole point is that only a wealthy person can get a podium , can run for high office in the first place and have a major impact on discourse. For the powerless, some advocacy by people in power is just always going to be needed. It is too bad we don't have more such advocacy.

rehajm said...

Will he sign the pledge to do so?

rehajm said...

Candidates what will gather the most votes gather the most gold. Correlation is not causation.

Chuck said...


"I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

Chuck said...

Dear Professor Lessig;

You can pry the First Amendment -- which very much includes Citizens United v. FEC -- from my cold dead hands.

David Begley said...

And his Vice President is Ann Althouse of Wisconsin.

Known Unknown said...

Lessig!

You mean ...

Larry!

Known Unknown said...

Harvard has had too many Larrys. Lessig, Tribe, Summers.

Also, Lessig is getting in the race makes Jindal look positively Alpha.

Chuck said...

Nobody has commented yet; how interesting it is, that Professor Lessig has clearly and easily chosen to run as a Democrat, in the Democratic primary, and that he'd carefully choose a Democrat as VP (to become President after the completion of his "referendum Presidency").

So don't mistake Lessig's issues to be all about good government, and high-minded principles. He could, and probably should, do all of that as an independent, seeking input and support from all, across party lines.

No; this is a left/liberal campaign to make political fundraising and political spending much harder for Republicans and conservative interests. Democrats want to take "billionaires" out of politics. They don't want to take unions, with access to billions in payrolls, out of politics. The liberal left wants to take judicial elections away, because they know that they control law school faculties and bar associations who might populate judicial selection panels. The liberal left would like a lot more competitive congressional seats where the liberal media would be so much more influential in swaying elections.

Lessig is such a transparent hypocrite; one wonders if he's lost his mind. But if one has tenure at Harvard, losing one's mind is largely harmless and penalty-free.

Sebastian said...

"Those things you listed are precisely the kinds of things the 1% wants to make go away"

"It prevents the masses from rising up"

Yeah, yeah, but what does Lessig think? Is the welfare state the new opium of the people foisted by the 1% on the unsuspecting masses mired in false-consciousness? Or is it something cherished by those same masses, clutched at by poor souls fighting through the 1%'s cordons at polling places, and therefore in need of being preserved, nay expanded, by means of higher taxes and confiscation of wealth? Are we a nation of dopes or a nation of takers?

harrogate said...

"Are we a nation of dopes or a nation of takers?"

Because it's one or the other , right? But in truth the beneficiaries of these programs deserve neither moniker. Let's maybe call them "citizens" and no less so than Rand Paul or Barack Obama or Roger Ailes , nay no less a citizen even than you , oh wise and aloof Sebastian.

YoungHegelian said...

@harrowgate,

I've never understood why when a rich person tries to advocate for the non-rich, or for less control of our country by the wealthy, along comes this argument "oh well he's rich himself so look what a hypocrite he is ."

I do truly find it tiresome to have to explain to someone, who considers him/herself "liberal" or "left-wing" the basics of what used to be standard issue left-wing thought of the Marxist, syndicalist, anarchist, whatever traditions. The problems, in these traditions, was that when the proposed "reforms" came from anyone other than the workers themselves, those "reforms" were often class advantages for the bourgeoisie hiding under the cloak of "charity". Class shaped consciousness, and inescapably so. The rich could not be trusted to look out for the poor by the very nature of class conflict.

While I myself do not subscribe to any of the above left wing traditions, I do not find their political insights without value, either. This is one of those insights. One can be a good laissez-faire "classical liberal" (as I consider myself to be) & still think that to depend on the other guy's spirit of altruism as the basis for a polity is a pretty damn weak reed. In the case of Lessig, truly, it's "beware of geeks bearing gifts".

harrogate said...

What you're saying is no more practical , YoungHegelian, than it would have been to say "women can't have the vote until they vote themselves the right to vote," pre suffrage.

harrogate said...

People do, you know, have the capacity to act on behalf of people less fortunate than themselves , in the political spectrum no less than in any other . It's just that we don't see enough of it . But when it does happen, why be the one who says "oh, he can't possibly be trying to act on anyone's behalf but his own ."

YoungHegelian said...

@Harrogate,

@3:06 I have no idea what you mean by this.

@3:09 People do, you know, have the capacity to act on behalf of people less fortunate than themselves

Yes, they do. It's called "charity", and it's a cardinal virtue. But charity of the rich towards the poor isn't the proper basis for a political arrangement of any sort. Empowering the poor so that they can work themselves out of poverty is.

As for "charitable" politics being a cover for class interests, it happens all the time on the liberal left. The New Deal? Bought at the cost of the Dixiecrats cementing in white power from the 30's until the 60's. Did you see any prosecution of Wall Street financiers for the 2008 meltdown? Nor did I. Where are those industries based? Blue states, and in the northeast, they're about the only industries making money. Accounting rules for Hollywood that allow Hollywood producers to tell the actor that played Chewbacca that "Star Wars" hasn't made any profits to disburse? Once again, Democratic power covering for Democratic money.

Screw altruism. How about starting with just "honesty" first?

harrogate said...

Well clearly the 3:06 post means that someone with power had to cast votes or lend support in order that others without power could access it . Such is the way with many things. Social programs accessed by the poor in this country are not charity, and they were put in place in many cases because some people with power advocated for such.

Your points about charity have no bearing here. It would not be charity for a small handful of human beings to stop controlling our political process so utterly. To be against Plutocracy is not to be a Marxist. None of your "history lessons" seem to be aware of what the subject of this thread really is .

Bay Area Guy said...

Lessig is one of those smart nerdy guys who got straight A's in every subject, but common sense.

furious_a said...
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furious_a said...
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khesanh0802 said...

@Hagar The Law School should be ground zero. It probably has more wackos per square foot than any other part of the university.

Of course, Lessig will ignore the out and out political scam that is the Clinton Foundation.

furious_a said...

...if you win, if you become president and you pass that platform, you'll resign.

AKA "...leaving the restaurant before the server brings the check."

jr565 said...

I liked Brewsters idea better. Vote for "None of the above". That would be kind of cool if there was no president.

furious_a said...

It's not "charity" when one is re-distributing someone else's income.

furious_a said...

Didn't WF Buckley have aphorism for governance by the faculty at Harvard?

Carol said...

He looks ghoulish like Steve Jobs or Tim Cook. Can he run for CEO of Apple instead?

All lefties look ghoulish to me, especially the women.

BN said...

James Polk promised 3 things: annex Texas, resolve the northwest border boundary dispute with Britain, and serve only one term. He did all three, with the added benefit of gaining New Mexico territory and California. Best Democrat prez ever. And the last one who told the truth about what he'd do if elected.

YoungHegelian said...

@harrogate,

To be against Plutocracy is not to be a Marxist

Yes, for what you consider to be "plutocracy", it is. Only, 45 years ago, the Left knew that. Now, the Left appropriates bits & pieces of Marx & others, and then promptly wants you to forget about where those pieces come from. The modern Social Justice Left wants you to enjoy the steak, but to never give thought to the slaughterhouse that made it possible.

Laslo Spatula said...

I am not Lessig.

Ambrose said...

Just what we need, a Pat Paulsen for the 21st century....

BN said...

Can't we make Slow Joe a permanent VP?

SteveR said...

OK I'm running too. No platform and I won't quit. I have the same chance of winning. But no chance of being with Georgie on Sunday! (sad face)

Sydney said...

Is he related to Doris Lessig?

Anonymous said...

If the government really were captured by the top 1%, partisan stalemate is pretty much the last result you'd expect.

Birkel said...

Very good point, Paul Zrimsek.

Drago said...

Paul Zrimsek: "If the government really were captured by the top 1%, partisan stalemate is pretty much the last result you'd expect."

What?

The Koch brothers aren't Tom Steyers best friends?

How is this even possible? The Marxist mind explodes....

Matt said...

Harrogate believes that the 1% wants to make social programs go away so they can be richer. Harrogate also agrees that the 1% uses those same social programs to keep the masses from rising up. Harrogate is totally a clear thinker.

Original Mike said...

If the government didn't have so damn much power, the 1% wouldn't have a reason to manipulate it. You'd think a Harvard Law professor would be smart enough to understand that.

Bill said...

His forehead is his glory.

Birkel said...

Original Mike:
A strong central government reduces transaction costs for governance purchases. Who wants that sort of efficiency?

Answer: buyers and sellers of government.

Q.E.D.

sunsong said...

There are reports that the 2016 election could cost as much as $10 Billion! $10 Billion to buy a political office. Hillary plans to raise $2.5 Billion of it! Up to now, the NYT's reports, that half the money raised has come from about 400 families. I'd say Lessig is onto something.

Unknown said...

"To me, this fix-something-and-quit idea reveals that the person is using the candidacy to promote the issue"

Isn't this true of any candidate who knows he doesn't have a chance of winning? Unless his motivation is ego, of course.

Marc said...

Please warn Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, before you all bomb the place so that she can get out of town. She's one of the good guys.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Yet another "centrist" candidate who deplores the partisanship of the left and the right, and who has a progressive agenda identical to the far left of the Democrat party.
By definition Lessig thinks that he has the answers and discussion is over. The idea that government has a purpose, and that purpose can be measured and judged by some one like Lessig (or anyone) is basically Statist, whether the person making the judgment is coming from the Right or the Left. Government is a thing people do, and no other animal does. It doesn't have a goal any more than "dance" or "paint" has a goal. In some places the government picks up your trash. In other places the government makes you dispose of your trash in a sorting ritual. In other places the government doesn't give a f*ck what happens to your trash. Who can judge whether any of these approaches is good or bad government? Government is about values, not Truth.

buwaya said...

I am keeping notes of the path of social breakdown. I keep track of the portents. This is the first mention on a popular blog concerning blowing up Harvard. Yesterday it was a string of months of record gun sales.
This is getting ugly.

chuck said...

not captured by the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent who fund campaigns...

I say we take off and nuke Harvard, it's the only way to be sure.

lgv said...

So, how many Democratic candidates can there be before they get their own clown car?

Original Mike said...
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harrogate said...

"I am keeping notes of the path of social breakdown. I keep track of the portents. This is the first mention on a popular blog concerning blowing up Harvard. Yesterday it was a string of months of record gun sales.

This is getting ugly."

Yes. Bad craziness is on the loose.

richard mcenroe said...

Mr. Lessig is BRILLIANT! We TOTALLY should get rid of ALL the "gerrymandering" and let the baristas, multigenerational welfare families and ivory tower academics and inherited rich tell the shrinking number of people who actually grow the food and make the goods how to live and work.

Look what it's done for Venezuela!

richard mcenroe said...

"...not captured by the tiniest fraction of the 1 percent who fund campaigns... "

All funding should be channeled through benevolent organizations like the Clinton Foundation.

richard mcenroe said...

Buwaya puti: you need to read more blogs.

richard mcenroe said...

"To be against Plutocracy is not to be a Marxist."

See: Nomenklatura

buwaya said...

I do haunt the big blogs on the right.
Not even on FreeRepublic, where I have been a regular for decades have I heard that one.
And Harrogate - if you want to head off the disaster, back off, and tell your friends also. You piled the fuel and lit the match. It's dumb to then hate the flames.

harrogate said...

Yeah, buwaya, that's just another way of saying shut up. So, no, no match lighting here. Although I guess if we'd all just vote for Republicans every time, we wouldn't be blamed for "lighting the match."

Achilles said...

harrogate said...
"I am keeping notes of the path of social breakdown. I keep track of the portents. This is the first mention on a popular blog concerning blowing up Harvard. Yesterday it was a string of months of record gun sales.

This is getting ugly."

"Yes. Bad craziness is on the loose."

It is only bad to you. To the rest of us it is like applying a brand to an attached leach. We are going to remove the parasitic polical class that uses our money to buy votes and pay cronies. Your democrat heroes won't be giving my money to wall street banks and GE much longer.

harrogate said...

Roy Moore, too, says "don't hate the flames," but to be fair he "hopes" gay people being able to get married doesn't "start a war." Which I think is really, really nice of him, considering how his rights have been so trampled.

Achilles said...

harrogate said...
"Yeah, buwaya, that's just another way of saying shut up. So, no, no match lighting here. Although I guess if we'd all just vote for Republicans every time, we wouldn't be blamed for "lighting the match."

Only a retard would think the GOP is going to get any less love after what they have done. This isn't about parties. It is about the middle class which both parties want to destroy.

Quaestor said...

I fail to see how gerrymandering by popular vote would be significantly different from gerrymandering by state legislature.

Lessig needs to explain himself - very carefully.

furious_a said...

This is the first mention on a popular blog concerning blowing up Harvard.

The Aliens homage went right over Harro's head.

Scott said...

William F. Buckley ran against John Lindsay for Mayor of New York City in 1965. When a reporter asked Buckley what he would do if he won, he replied, "Demand a recount."

sinz52 said...

This whole issue of "gridlock" and "stalemate" is a total red herring.

In my experience, when ANYONE decries "gridlock and stalemate in Washington," he's just angry that his political opponents still have the power to prevent the policies he wants.

To prove it:

"Professor Lessig, would you be willing to see your political party forfeit the next election in order to let the opposition party win everything, just ending the stalemate?"

Are there any liberals who hate gridlock so much they would allow the conservatives to take over everything?

Are there any conservatives who hate gridlock so much they would allow the liberals to take over everything?

Doubt it!

Bob R said...

You should have saved this for the September 7 "lightweight religion" theme.

Goldenpause said...

Why, pray tell, is this clown being interviewed on a nationally televised program?? Is he the best they could get on a holiday weekend?