Lawrence Lessig is perhaps best known as the digital liberties attorney who transformed copyright rules with Creative Commons, a nonprofit that promotes non-exclusive, internet-friendly copyrights. But now heā€™s a government reformer. And heā€™s decided to run for president.

Of course the road to candidacy is long and difficult. Though Lessig wants to run as a Democrat, as he told the Washington Post in an exclusive interview yesterday, he has to jump through a number of hoops. But heā€™s hopeful that the popularity of his TED talks will make the first part easy. Writes Philip Rucker on Washington Post:

The Democratic National Committee has established a 1 percent national polling threshold for candidates in the debates, which begin Oct. 13 in Nevada. Lessig said he is confident he would make the cut.

ā€œThat one percent of America has watched my TED Talks,ā€ Lessig said. ā€œIf we can be in the debates and frame this issue in a way that becomes compelling, then I think thereā€™s a chance to see it take off.ā€ ...


Lessig has long been interested in halting corruption in American politics, and recently led a campaign against super PACs. Now heā€™s focused specifically on getting as many US citizens to vote as possible. Given the abysmal turnout numbers we have in most of our elections, this is not a bad idea at all for a reformer. And it has a high-tech twist: Lessig wants to use big data to enable ā€œautomatic registration.ā€ Rucker continues:

The singular focus of Lessigā€™s campaign would be passing the Citizens Equality Act, a package of reforms that would guarantee the freedom to vote with automatic registration, end partisan gerrymandering and fund campaigns with a mix of small-dollar donations and public funds.

But, Lessig said, ā€œItā€™s not like the one issue I care about is way off to the corner and nothing else is important to me. Everything is important to me ā€” from Wall Street to climate change to the debt ā€” all of those are tied to this particular problem.ā€


Lessig says that heā€™ll try to raise $1 million by Labor Day. If he doesnā€™t get it, heā€™ll return it all to donors and give up. If not, we may see one of the weirdest presidential reform campaigns in history.

[via Washington Post]

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