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Government The Almighty Buck United States Politics

Larry Lessig Reaches Funding Goal and Is Running For President 281

LetterRip writes: Lessig has met his funding goal of one million dollars, and thus is committed to run for President. ABC reports: "After exceeding his $1 million crowd-funding goal, Harvard Law School professor Larry Lessig announced today on “This Week” that he is running for president. 'I think I'm running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room,' he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. 'We have to recognize -- we have a government that does not work. The stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work.'”
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Larry Lessig Reaches Funding Goal and Is Running For President

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  • Spell check much, Slashdot editors?
    • The typo is my fault, sorry - the 'spelling error' highlighting either wasn't working or I overlooked it when I submitted - doh!

      Interestingly he did do editing. I only submitted the first sentence and didn't have the link inline. He found the second source, quoted the explanatory paragraph, and added the linking.

  • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @04:34PM (#50468343)

    I watched the TV interview. I'm not American but US politics has a way of affecting everyone, so I think it's cool what he's trying to do.

    That said, I think he needs to practice his TV interviewing style a bit. He spoke VERY fast, sounded kind of shrill, and the tumble of words didn't communicate as much as I expected given their quantity. There were a lot of things that sounded like generic political soundbites any candidate might say. The basic ideas of political reform are solid - he could slow down, hit one or two points solidly and then stop.

    There are a few other issues I don't really understand.

    The main one is that he's strongly Democrat. For reasons I don't fully understand (electoral college mumble mumble) it seems US candidates cannot ever be independent, they have to pick a side. So that's going to cause issues right there. Reform of Washington should be a bi-partisan issue: I had expected him to run as an independent and then resign and trigger fresh elections once his platform was passed. That way anyone could feel secure voting for him. But I guess that sort of thing isn't possible.

    The other is that surely he it takes more than one man to deliver the reforms he wants. Why isn't he creating a political party rather than running for President? This must be the only-two-parties rule again? I heard once that there are more than just Dems and Reps in the US political system but I never hear much about them.

    • by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @04:41PM (#50468361) Homepage Journal

      The original superpac was strictly non-partisan. However, it turned out that almost zero Republicans wanted anything to do with him, it, or campaign finance reform. So in practice, only Democrats supported the idea. The Republicans MAYDAY reached out to actively oppose campaign finance reform...

      There really aren't viable candidates on the national stage outside of our two main parties. The vast majority of other parties are extreme fringe single-issue parties, and most of them are far right-wing or deeply religious. The only two parties that come even close to being worth mentioning are the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. The former can't get nationally elected, and the latter has caucused with the Republicans for over a decade now.

      • While I don't give him good odds of getting elected, mostly because people can't seem to do more than vote for the candidates that get the biggest media campaigns, he's the only current candidate I'd even think of voting for. Lessig isn't my perfect candidate, but he is far more like it then any primary party candidate could ever be and still be part of their party. The greens and Libertarians have much the same issues as he does. The last good presidential third party candidates to get any traction have al

      • There really aren't viable candidates on the national stage outside of our two main parties.

          Reasoning with republican and democrat voters is utterly futile. We have to work on the non-voting block. It is a large enough majority that we can simply ignore the ruling parties and vote in something else. And we can render all campaign money absolutely worthless at the same time. There is no need for this phony baloney "campaign reform" bullshit. It is thinly disguised censorship.

      • The Republicans thought they would have the upper hand in the post Citizens United era. The truth is that among the top 100 individual donors more than half are democrats and for whatever reason Democrats tend to have a higher % of their supporters contribute financially despite them generally earning less then their Republican counterparts . The SuperPACS are generally simply cancelling each other out and have had limited impact outside of primaries. As time and effort spent fundraising is reaching ridicul
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ScentCone ( 795499 )

          The Republicans thought they would have the upper hand in the post Citizens United era.

          No, they just thought it would be nice not to have their First Amendment rights infringed, that's all. And plenty of liberal-minded groups agreed with them. You don't give up your freedoms of speech and assembly based on the calendar, nor based on the manner in which you assemble. Large media operations were allowed to pursue candidate and issue advocacy while other groups were set up to become criminals for doing exactly the same thing. A plain and simple violation of the First Amendment, not to mention a

          • No, they just thought it would be nice not to have their First Amendment rights infringed, that's all.

            Want to explain to me why Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the ruling why Republicans supported it? Do Democrats not want their first amendment rights or is it much more likely that Republicans thought they stood to gain from the ruling while Democrats thought that they stood to loose.

            • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @11:24PM (#50469829)

              Want to explain to me why Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the ruling why Republicans supported it?

              Because the majority of media outlets, which weren't impacted by McCain-Feingold's limitations on pre-election opinion broadcasting, are run by editorial boards and staff that skew left. The Democrats truly enjoyed that un-infringed support. Simple as that.

              It's not that Republicans stood to gain by having their constitutional rights re-protected, it's that they stood to RE-gain something that had been taken away from them out of proportion, in political terms.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            When the First Amendment was written the authors clearly didn't predict the rise of broadcasting and mass media. Unfortunately the effectiveness and the high cost of using broadcast media has broken US democracy.

            There was a bit of hope with social media for a while, but the spin doctors quickly learned how to manage that too.

            • Newspapers were in regular print in the Americas during the 18th century, so the founding fathers would have been well aware of mass media as it had already started.

              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                Back then there were many newspapers, and the distribution methods of the day didn't allow them to publish daily news in every state simultaneously. There simply wasn't the concentration of ownership or power that there is now, rather lots of smaller outfits.

                • So? Its the same progression mass media has undergone since it was first created - even with radio, TV and Internet, news reporting has increased in speed and acceptable delays have decreased to the point where if you break a news story minutes before another outlet then that is considered a success.

                  We have gone from daily news bulletins to hourly news bulletins to constant news channels - and now we have the internet where anyone can break some major news with a few lines of text as the event happens...

                  So

                  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                    Okay, try to think of it another way. The amount of money needed to get into office has increased dramatically. Even accounting for inflation, it's rocketed. It seems clear to me that the people who wrote the constitution and the First Amendment didn't intend for people to be able to buy power with money. They wanted ordinary people to be in control of the democracy, not a rich elite.

                    Later on slavery was abolished and women given the vote. Democracy was spread to as many people as possible. I can't imagine

      • by jmac_the_man ( 1612215 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @06:54PM (#50468861)

        The original superpac was strictly non-partisan.

        This isn't actually true. The group's rhetoric assumes that businesses (and buisnessmen) shouldn't be able to fund politics because business (and businessmen) are evil, while government (and so called public interest groups) are righteous.

        By and large, that is the argument of the American Left, rather than the Right. If your argument assumes that to be true, you shouldn't expect support from the right. Also, he named his group after a socialist holiday... Because it's a leftist group, and he's lying when he claims it isn't.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The only democratic option is to take money out of politics. State funded candidates, no gifts or deals, no industry jobs after leaving office. No supporting TV ads especially.

          Will never happen of course.

          • by theCoder ( 23772 )

            If we had only state funded candidates, what would happen when someone like Donald Trump wanted to run for President? Would we give him tax payer money to spew his misinformed and occasionally hateful opinions? What about someone from the KKK? Would we give that person money? And if not, who decides who is allowed to run and who is not?

            Also, keep in mind that keeping money out of politics inherently gives more power to the mainstream media to endorse (or suppress) candidates. They might not do it conci

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              The way state funded candidates and parties work in most democracies is that they have to have a minimal level of success by themselves. When they have established this low level they qualify for state funding. So yeah, people with really horrible things to say are given state money to say it. But it's worth putting up with that to get all the benefits of taking the money out of politics.

              • So yeah, people with really horrible things to say are given state money to say it.

                All non-tyrannical governments protect the right of the people to freely associate, or to freely withhold their association. (The United States recognizes this, which is why "freedom of association" is explicitly enumerated in the First Amendment to the Constitution.)

                Taking what you euphemistically call "state money" but which is really a citizen's tax money and handing it out to people that citizen hates flies in the face of freedom of association.

                Meanwhile, under the current system, if a citizen suppo

          • Again, you're assuming facts not in evidence. What is the actual problem with money in politics?

            The problem is that dirtbags (and there are plenty in both parties) use money to get elected and then make decisions that intrude on your rights too much. But the problem isn't the money, it's the dirtbag.

            A strictly limited government wouldn't attract as many dirtbags, simply because there wouldn't be enough opportunites for graft or potential rewards to hand out to cronies. You'll notice Lessig isn't advocat

    • Why isn't he creating a political party rather than running for President? This must be the only-two-parties rule again? I heard once that there are more than just Dems and Reps in the US political system but I never hear much about them.

      The reason why is because it's dead easy to run as one of the major parties and use their ballot line. In some states it is practically too late to try to start a new party or run as an independent; it's an incredibly time-consuming and resource-draining process. If he runs as a Democrat, he's on the ballot in all 50 states and DC. If he runs as an indy, he might be able to reach somewhere in the 30-40 state range.

      Unlike the UK (which I'm assuming you're from just because that's the easiest assumption),

      • The reason why is because it's dead easy to run as one of the major parties and use their ballot line. In some states it is practically too late to try to start a new party or run as an independent; it's an incredibly time-consuming and resource-draining process. If he runs as a Democrat, he's on the ballot in all 50 states and DC. If he runs as an indy, he might be able to reach somewhere in the 30-40 state range.

        Unlike the UK (which I'm assuming you're from just because that's the easiest assumption), where a few signatures and a deposit gets you on the ballot, here each state has different rules, and most states unabashedly try to keep independents or minor party candidates off the ballots with unequal laws.

        The main political parties in the U.S are heterogeneous and not only loosely bound in ideology but even somewhat accepting of members with contradicting positions. There are Republicans and Democrats which differ with their own party even in defining issues such as abortion, gun-control and fiscal policy. MP voting against their own party is a sure way to a party split in Parliamentary systems, in the United States Congressman and even Senators regularly vote against the parties leadership.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      He can't trigger a re-election by resigning. There is a well defined succession of power that will be followed.

      However, he does offer a variety of potential VPs and is leaving it up to his supporters to tell him which one to choose. So pick your President from that list or suggest a write in.

    • The main one is that he's strongly Democrat. For reasons I don't fully understand (electoral college mumble mumble) it seems US candidates cannot ever be independent, they have to pick a side.

      It's a common characteristic of first past the post systems, of course it's not inevitable, particularly in the US. I could easily imagine the US supporting a Tea Party based in the deep south and the rest of the country being fought out between moderate Republicans and Democrats at the legislative level.

      The only issue is the Presidential elections, the concern isn't vote splitting, either a Republican or Democrat could win, but I suspect both Republicans and Democrats would unify to make sure the Tea Party

    • I had expected him to run as an independent and then resign and trigger fresh elections once his platform was passed.

      That isn't how it works...

      If the President resigns, then the Vice President becomes President. We don't have new elections until the 4 years are up, even if 15 people in a row resign. There is a long list of people in line to be President.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @04:43PM (#50468365)

    There is no way you can effectively centrally plan for a country of 300M people. People keep saying we should be more like Europe and I agree. There are very few decisions made by the EU. Most of the decisions are made by the member States. Let's try that. One state could be very capitalistic but with a big welfare state like the Nordic countries. Others could be more socialist like the French. Some can be crazy libertarian gun and gold nuts like the Swiss.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kohath ( 38547 )

      There are 2 basic philosophies at work.

      1. "We know The Right Way for everyone to live their lives and make their choices." This philosophy won't agree with you. The Right Way goes for everyone, regardless of how many they are. If they don't agree, they're stupid or whatever, and their objections can be thoughtlessly dismissed.

      2. "We'll live our own lives and make our own choices." These people might agree with you, but it's hard for them to rein in government because of all the money and power to be mad

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Europe has a third way.

        3) The government works for the people, and acts in their interests.

        When we have regulations that Americans say limit our freedom, we often consider them to be increasing our freedom because we no longer have to be an expert on everything. We can go and buy an appliance and know that it meets minimum quality, safety and efficiency standards, and has been rated by our government for us.

        Freedom to enjoy life is very important to Europeans.

        • by Kohath ( 38547 )

          We have counterparts to those agencies, but ours are hostile [cnsnews.com]. When we buy appliances, we know we are paying extra and getting something inferior because the government prohibited the sale of the old version that worked better and cost less.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Don't believe the hype. I don't know about US dishwashers specifically, but we had a similar panic in the EU when they brought in efficiency regulations for vacuum cleaners. People said they wouldn't clean anything any more. Of course it was rubbish, they were actually much better than the old ones because the EU started testing them and putting the ratings on the box, and because manufacturers could no longer complete on wasting the most energy with the biggest, most inefficient high power motor.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      Can you explain what you mean with: socialist French and welfare state Nordic countries ? Because I would lump them all in the same category, but you clearly have 2 different categories.

      I'm from Europe and I would think I know more about European countries than the average US citizen, so maybe it's just a cultural divide why I don't understand what you mean.

      • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @05:58PM (#50468633)

        The Nordic Countries are very Capitalist. There aren't too many state owned companies and the laws allow for a very unregulated, free, dynamic, and productive free market. This is coupled with a large welfare state backed by high taxes. So the state takes that tax money and distributes it out to the citzens in different forms of welfare.

        France, Spain, Italy, etc have a more socialist system where the state actually owns and runs companies or regulates them so much they are effectivly state owned.

        For example the Nordic countries (and Germany until recently) don't have a minimum wage. This allows the unions and employers and the market to set rates. This leads to very low unemployment. The Southern European countries all have high minum wages which causes high unemployment.

        IMHO the Nordic countries have a better system because if you have more people working and producing your country is going to be much wealthier. Even if you have high taxes and redistribution.

        • by Lennie ( 16154 )

          Ahh, that is what you mean. Yes, I can see now how you'd call it more capitalistic.

          I do think it was a mistake to sell some of those national state owned companies. I hear English rail is kind of a mess. Ironically the well run train companies are usually partly state-owned by foreign European countries. ;-)

          Yes, I agree it's a better system in the Nordic countries. They spend a lot of money on education and at least one makes it easy to fire people but also spend a lot of money and effort on getting the une

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by trout007 ( 975317 )

            The main reason capitalism works the best is because companies are allowed to fail and new ones take their place. You let the market allocate resources to the private companies and individuals that make the best (most profitable) use of it. The Nordic countries let that process work and then just tax it to pay for the welfare state.

            The problem with actual socialism (State ownership of the means of production) is that it is extremely wasteful and inefficient. Nobody has to do a better job because they are no

        • "For example the Nordic countries (and Germany until recently) don't have a minimum wage. This allows the unions and employers and the market to set rates. This leads to very low unemployment. The Southern European countries all have high minum wages which causes high unemployment."

          The difference being that the unions in said Nordic countries (and Germany until recently) are prolific, powerful and actually serve the people that they supposedly represent.

        • by forand ( 530402 )
          I think the "large welfare state[s]" are providing a minimum income to their citizenry. This has very much the same effect as a minimum wage in countries where the economy can handle either the high taxes or the increased costs of a higher minimum wage. The conclusions you draw from the two systems you are comparing do not follow from their forms of economy so much as their underlying economic base which existed before the socialization (sorry bad term but you get my drift) of Europe. Basically correlation
    • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @10:10PM (#50469627) Journal

      Crazy idea...a confederation of states, each nominally sovereign and controlling their own systems within the bounds of a federally agreed set of boundaries, nominally tied by a minimalist federal government that only is responsible for a basic set of functions like defense and printing money and the post office?

      In short, You mean, like how the constitution was originally written?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      There is no way you can effectively centrally plan for a country of 300M people. People keep saying we should be more like Europe and I agree. There are very few decisions made by the EU. Most of the decisions are made by the member States. Let's try that. One state could be very capitalistic but with a big welfare state like the Nordic countries. Others could be more socialist like the French. Some can be crazy libertarian gun and gold nuts like the Swiss.

      This was tried, it led to the Civil War. The south, more than anything else, wanted strong states rights and weak federal government. The north disagreed and it ended up in war.

      Slavery and other issues were just the hot button topics that got the average person engaged, that isn't really what it was about.

      That is why the US has a strong federal government today, the north won the war, reconstruction happened, and you have what we have today.

      What most people don't know is that the US Government that we hav

      • This was tried, it led to the Civil War. The south, more than anything else, wanted strong states rights and weak federal government. The north disagreed and it ended up in war.

        This isn't really true. In the antebellum U.S., both the South and the North tended to favor the federal government when it suited their interests and to favor "states' rights" when it suited other aspects of their interests.

        For example, the South favored states' rights for Western territories to decide for themselves whether they wanted slavery or not, but they favored the federal government when it came to protecting the rights of slaveholders to take their slaves into free states or when it came to en

  • From what we hear about him, he seems to be a guy who raises money to spend to promote himself and his favorite political causes. And that's about it. Maybe he has ideas, but they're not news. Only the fundraising is news.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @05:24PM (#50468493)

    Lessig is exactly wrong.

    Stalemate is great, because it keeps the inept groping hand of government from raping all of us, either from the left OR the right.

    The problem recently is lack of a stalemate. One party held too much control and was able to progress, and after that period ended the president has decided to keep progressing despite a stalemate via executive orders. The next president, left or right, will decide that is a fine idea and carry on to a much greater extent.

    Nope, the problem we have now is not lack of the ability of congress to do anything, but the lurching shambling mass of government has freed itself from the thin tethers we were trying to use as a bridle and is now unstoppable and un-steerable.

    I'm in a position where it will not affect me too much personally; I just feel really bad for the younger generation being trodden upon.

    • Nope, the problem we have now is not lack of the ability of congress to do anything, but the lurching shambling mass of government has freed itself from the thin tethers we were trying to use as a bridle and is now unstoppable and un-steerable.

      That's a vivid image you're painting there. And it's also one that ensures only those who are hopelessly corrupt will seek a career in the government, thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. People take their cues on how they should behave from their surrounding cu

      • That's a vivid image you're painting there. And it's also one that ensures only those who are hopelessly corrupt will seek a career in the government,

        It's quite odd how you phrase a description of the federal government as-is in the future tense.

        Because, frankly, setting your goal as "paralysis" is pretty unambitious.

        To the contrary - at this point that is unreachably ambitious, as I've stated. It's not a goal, it's a description of why things worked as long as they did, and why they no longer do.

  • by mtrachtenberg ( 67780 ) on Sunday September 06, 2015 @06:21PM (#50468723) Homepage

    I'm glad Lessig was moved to action by the needless and cruel death of a fine young man. Lessig is right that the wealthy control our politics, and he is right that they are leading us down a path of spectacular self-destruction.

    But I don't want a noble Harvard professor -- if there is such a mythical beast -- who promises to resign in favor of his Vice President, so as to avoid soiling his hands once he has saved us all.

    Instead, I want a spectacularly good politician, who can rally crowds to bring about the change we all want and need. I'm guessing that such a politician will not be willing to say exactly the same things a noble Harvard professor may be willing to say, primarily because any spectacularly good politician values the idea of getting elected and having power more than s/he values the idea of returning to the ivy covered halls. But I'd still like that spectacularly good politician to be willing to stick his or her neck out for things they believe in, whether it makes them ultra-popular or not. And, if they believe in things like putting citizen's health above the needs of corporate health insurers, or things like educating all of a nation's children to the best of their abilities, regardless of their parent's ability to pay, and in the idea that even a full time burger flipper is entitled to enough money to participate comfortably in our society, regardless of whether that means raising the marginal tax rate on CEOs... I can actually drum up some enthusiasm.

    Bernie is looking good.

  • "How to spend $1 million dollars and have nothing to show for it"

  • Who say that Lessig's campaign will only open the White House to a republican president. You are probably right.

    All the same, here is to hoping that those posts equate to Roblimo's post about the first iPod and what actually followed. Well, so to speak.
  • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

    I like him, of anyone I could want for president, he would probably be at the top of the list.

    Thing is, I am just done with this broken system. I don't even want another President at all, I want to see the entire federal level eliminated and maybe re-created from scrtach....maybe just left dead.

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