Lawrence Lessig

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Lessig Announces Presidential Bid
| published September 11, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

A Harvard law professor says he has already raised enough money—more than $1 million and climbing—to make his oft-discussed Presidential bid a reality.

Lawrence Lessig, a South Dakota native, political activist and Roy L. Furman professor of law at Harvard, had challenged those encouraging his White House bid to see if he could raise at least $1 million by Labor Day of this year. Lessig announced that he had reached that milestone over the weekend of September 5-6 by using a mix of social media and crowdfunding campaigns, and at an event organized and held in Claremont, New Hampshire on Wednesday, Lessig made his candidacy official.

Lessig chose Claremont as his venue because it was the same town hall location in which then-President Bill Clinton and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich had jointly promised to tackle campaign finance reform, a pledge that neither politician acted upon. Lessig is an outspoken critic of the current state of political fundraising in the U.S., and has advocated major reforms for years. He hopes to finance his campaign for President using primarily crowdsourcing and social media, and encouraging small contributions by large numbers of people.

Lessig will become the fifth Democrat to challenge Hillary Clinton in the race for the Presidency, a contact already swollen with at least 17 major Republican candidates and five Democrats. Though Lessig is hardly a household name, and registers lower name-recognition, he has a wide and loyal following, especially among those who fear that campaign financing has ruined the process of electing officials.

Lessig has said he is campaigning as a “referendum president.” Lessig says he would serve one term, and only until he was able to craft and pass a sweeping, top-down reform bill—a large-scale political reboot which would include measures to curb political spending, redesign our thinking about gerrymandering, and guarantee fair representation in Congress. Among his proposals would be dollar-specific vouchers, given to all registered voters, to help directly fund candidates in the same way that votes are cast.

Lessig also says that all candidates regardless of party or political stripe should make it their first and foremost priority to promise to work toward improving democracy.

Lessig is a technologist and an author whose books include Republic Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress, and a Plan to Stop It. The book says that the corruption of the American political system has reached into nearly every level of politics, and that only after citizens collectively agree that the corruption of Congress is a common enemy of true and open democracy, will the system again work as the founding fathers had intended.

In a statement on his website Lessig refers to the long Democratic Party primary and caucus season ahead, and outlines his intentions.

“Our goal,” writes Lessig, “is to place at the center of this primary the most important moral issue of our time—achieving the equality that a democracy demands—so we can finally build the society that we were promised: one where citizens are equal, and where none could imagine the need to assert the most basic truth of any society—that their lives mattered any less than anyone else.”

Prior to teaching at Harvard, Lessig was an instructor at Stanford Law School. While at Stanford, he founded and developed the college’s Center for Internet and Society. Lessig holds a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a Juris Doctorate from Yale.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Fiorina May Appear in CNN Debate After All; Keith H. Roberts; Thursday Review; September 2, 2015.

Is Biden Closer to a Decision?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; August 28, 2015.