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Has Lessig Lost It? Democratic 'Reformer' Who Contemplates Running Applauds Trump

August 27, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Larry Lessig is a case study in the dangers of single issue politics.

Some single-issue activists see the light. Others are blinded by it.

Somewhere in between these poles is Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor who became a celebrity in Silicon Valley intellectual property circles but then discovered how America’s system of privately financed political campaigns and the follow-up culture of insider-driven lobbying has toxically corrupted our democracy.

In recent years, Lessig has moved from a pro-democracy critic on the Ted Talk circuit, to a protester marching across wintery New Hampshire calling for structural fundraising reforms, to the irony-embracing creator of a super PAC—funded by 50,000 Internet-inspired small donors and a handful of tech millionaires—that backed congressional candidates (Democrats and Republicans) in 2014 who pledged they’d put campaign finance reform at the top of their agenda if elected (most lost), to a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Lessig said, if elected, that he would resign after Congress adopted three sweeping democracy reforms: guaranteed voting rights, ending gerrymandered districts, and most important, ending private fundraising.

Lessig’s critique that the root of American political corruption primarily lies with the way the candidates for public office have to raise private money and then service donors is true. His prescription that the remedy lies with adopting nationwide publicly financed campaigns has been the agreed-upon solution among progressive reformers for decades. However, as the takeover of American elections by the wealthiest Americans keeps spiraling out of control—as witnessed by the rash of million-dollar-plus donations underwriting many of 2016’s presidential contenders—Lessig is becoming the embodiment the old cliché: desperate times require desperate measures.

In his case, the latest example is not launching a 2016 presidential exploratory committee where he pledged to resign as soon as reforms are enacted. It’s his recent endorsement of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, including offering to join his ticket, because Trump has been speaking the truth about how money corrupts politics and politicians.

“Donald Trump is the biggest gift to the movement for reform since the Supreme Court gave us Citizens United,” Lessig told Politico.com, referring …read more


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