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King for a Day: Why Lawrence Lessig Plans to Run for President and then Resign

Created: 12 August, 2015
Updated: 16 October, 2022
2 min read

Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig is exploring a Democratic presidential bid in 2016. Lessig's impetus to run is driven by his desire to pass the Citizen's Equality Act of 2017.

"Jefferson's truth, that all are created equal has become Orwell's meme that some are more equal that others," Lessig explains.

The Citizen's Equality Act of 2017 focuses on enhancing voting rights, expanding equal representation of citizens, and exploring citizen-funded elections. Lessig states in his launch video that there is a basic "inequality of citizens" and the current system is rigged to help the very few.

"Until this rigged system is fixed, no reform is even possible," he states.

Lessig's idea is to institute a "referendum president" who would serve only as long as it takes to pass the Citizen's Equality Act. His 2016 campaign is based on crowd-funding efforts. If the campaign hits its funding target of $1 million by Labor Day and the leading candidates have not committed to making citizen's equality their first official priority upon entering office, Lessig will enter the Democratic race as a referendum candidate.

"It is not about one person; it is about a principle," Lessig says. "Democracy must respect us all as equals."

Essentially, Lessig wants to run for president to pass one bill, and then hand the reins over to the elected vice president.

In July, Lessig left his position as CEO and chairman of Mayday PAC, the "super PAC to end all super PACs." He co-founded Mayday to support candidates who were serious about campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, despite raising $10 million to influence eight targeted races in 2014, Mayday had success in only two, Politico confirms.

While Lessig's campaign might not gain much steam, his idea for a referendum president is definitely innovative. What it will take to fix the election process and government gridlock is stopping the corruption of money in politics, Lessig stated in Harvard Magazine. Without solving this problem first, Lessig argues, we won't solve anything else.

Photo Credit: nrkbeta