I am a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders. But it isn’t without some reservations. If I were an ideologue, I wouldn’t be a Democrat. I am very much in favor of strategic voting. So I have some concern as to whether Sanders acceptance of the “scary” socialist label wouldn’t be enough to destroy his chances in the general election. But in general, I don’t think so. I think “socialism” is a bad word primarily to people who would never vote for a Democrat. For most people, “socialism” means Sweden, not communist China. And Sanders’ policies are so popular, that I think the attacks wouldn’t stick.
But when I heard that Lawrence Lessig was thinking about running for president as a Democrat, I thought it was odd. I’m a big fan of his. Just the same, I have a problem with people who have no political experience running for president. It just isn’t what we as Democrats are. Above all, Democrats are competent. Governing is a question of skills. The Republicans may think that all a candidate needs is the right ideology, but the results of that can be seen in the House of Representatives right now. What does Lessig think he is adding to the debate? Is it really important enough to take time and attention away from candidates who are actually qualified to run for president?
The question defies a simple answer. Lessig is pushing the Citizens Equality Act of 2017. He says that he would serve as president only until it was passed into law. It has three parts to it: first, it would assure the equal freedom to vote (make elections a national holiday); second, it would assure equal representation in Congress (eliminate gerrymandering); and third, it would secure citizen funded elections. I don’t think any liberal would have a problem with this. And as Lessig indicates in the following video, it really isn’t partisan. Except that it is because conservatives know that in a fair fight, they lose, because their ideas are bad.
I guess Lessig is trying to push against the argument that I’ve made that he doesn’t have the experience to lead the country, by saying that he will resign after the law is passed. But that doesn’t really fly for a couple of reasons. First, it requires not only that he be elected, but that a Congress be elected that would agree with the Citizens Equality Act. That’s certainly not going to happen. What’s more, Lessig would be running as a Democrat. At least a third of the country is going to vote against him just because of that. On this level, his candidacy doesn’t make sense.
But as pretty much everyone is saying, the bigger problem is that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley are all in favor of the plan. So what’s going to happen? We’re going to have a debate where Lessig says, “Citizens Equality Act!” And the other candidates say, “Sure!” Lessig himself says that he knows other candidates care about the issue, but that they don’t have a plan for getting the policy passed. But neither does Lessig given that there is no way in hell he is ever going win the nomination, much less the general election.
As a Sanders supporter, I don’t understand why Lessig doesn’t just help Sanders’ campaign. In his work, he could highlight Sanders’ support for electoral reform. He could also push Sanders even further to the left on the issue. That seems like a much better use of his resources. But I’m open minded. If Lessig starts attracting thousands of people to his events, or starts getting a couple percent in polling preferences, I’ll give him a look. As for now, I’ll forget all about this ever having happened. But maybe I’ll read Republic, Lost again.