Lawrence Lessig dropped out of the Presidential Primary for President yesterday. Not that I think anyone actually noticed. Lessig is a Harvard Law Professor and activist, and his was a single issue campaign: he wanted to overturn Citizen’s United, pass electoral reform, and curb gerrymandering.
He had pledged that if we were to achieve these issues as President, he would have quit the Presidency and returned to his law professorship.
Obviously, Lessig is smart enough to know that the likelihood of him becoming President was somewhere between zilch and nada, but like Bernie Sanders, it seems that he wanted to spark a conversation.
For what it matters, he’s absolutely correct on the issues. And it’s not just Citizens’ United that needs to be overturned.
- Gerrymandering is out of control these days.
- Voting rights need to be reformed.
- Elections should be citizen funded.
For those of you who don’t remember, the word Gerrymander derives from the Senatorial district approved by then Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry who, in 1812, signed a bill where one of the districts looked like a salamander. This is what happens when you let the politicians draw their own district boundaries. The process needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians, and district boundaries should be as natural as possible, following the outlines of cities and towns, for example. Democrats are as guilty in this regard as Republicans, but right now we have more state houses and Governorships in Republican hands, resulting in more abuses on their side of the ledger.
Right now elections cannot be citizen-funded because of the Citizens’ United decision. And that’s just wrong.
And certain common sense voting reforms should be instituted, including automatic voter registration and making Election Day a national holiday.
We’re not there yet, we’re not even close to being there, but it would have been good if Lessig’s candidacy could have sparked the conversation.
Now we have to find other ways to do it.
Here is Lessig’s announcement on YouTube:
 Or, depending on how you count, three interrelated issues that he was advocating for as one.