Lessig Decides Against Congressional Bid

from the House-is-not-a-home dept

Law professor and copyright critic Lawrence Lessig has decided against a run for Congress, citing polling showing “no possible way” of overtaking popular California State Senator Jackie Speier before the April 8 election to fill the seat left empty by the death of Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos. Lessig had been mulling a bid on the urging of a burgeoning netroots campaign to draft him for public office, but decided that the likelihood that he would “lose big” would do more to harm than help his broader nascent effort to “Change Congress.”

That effort will now see a sudden cash influx, as almost $28,000 raised at the Lessig ’08 page on the progressive Web site ActBlue flow into the newborn non-profit’s coffers. Under an arrangement with ActBlue, some $8,600 raised on two other Lessig-related pages will be donated to Creative Commons, an organization founded by Lessig to provide simple legal licenses for creators who wish to enable the sharing and remixing of their works.

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Comments on “Lessig Decides Against Congressional Bid”

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6 Comments
Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Proportional Representation

I think you in the US could benefit from a proportional-representation-type system. That would put an end to situations where winning candidates can have fewer votes that losing ones (e.g. your 2000 Presidential election), and also mean that there will no longer be such a thing as a “wasted” vote.

Several European countries use proportional representation, and here in NZ we adopted it over a decade ago. I think it makes for representatives who really are more representative of the voters.

Brian (profile) says:

Re: Proportional Representation

How dare you foreigner try to tell America how to run it’s government? We tell you, remember?

Seriously, government rule by popular vote would be very bad in the US since population is so unevenly distributed. If popular vote decided the presidency, then a candidate could limit his campaign to 3 states and a dozen metro cites, promising the world, all to the detriment of those of us living in the other 90% of the country.

Hence the wisdom of the Electoral Congress. It just requires a bit of critical thought, which is just too much to ask for many.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Proportional Representation

Seriously, government rule by popular vote would be very bad in the US since population is so unevenly distributed.

It’s uneven in New Zealand, too, with about a third of the entire population in the Auckland area, another half around the rest of the North Island, and only a quarter in the South Island.

What we have is a “mixed-member proportional” system, with about half the seats in Parliament chosen by electorate, and the rest by overall party vote.

If popular vote decided the presidency, then a candidate could limit his campaign to 3 states and a dozen metro cites, promising the world, all to the detriment of those of us living in the other 90% of the country.

Isn’t that what happens in already? I see your Presidential campaigners spending nearly all of their time in the “swing states”, not because they have a lot of population, but because their voting patterns tend to be split very close to the middle, so they end up having a disproportionate influence on the outcome. Wouldn’t a proportional system be fairer than this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Proportional Representation

“What we have is a “mixed-member proportional” system, with about half the seats in Parliament chosen by electorate, and the rest by overall party vote.”

We have three bodies of government: President, Legislature, and courts. President is elected by Electoral Congress decided by each state (elections). The Legislature has two bodies: House of Reps depends on population, and the Senate (two per state). Until maybe a centruy ago, our Senate was appointed by each state legislature, but scandal led to a constitutional amendment making it a direct election.

“I see your Presidential campaigners spending nearly all of their time in the “swing states”

This is Primary season. The nominees for each Party are chosen in a series of statewide (very local) elections. The order of these ‘regional’ votes is arranged in a way to maximize such coverage you speak of. Until the nominating conventions in late summer, EVERY primary is in a “swing state”.

There must be a Flight of The Choncords joke here somewhere…

MrrarA says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Proportional Representation

Lawrence is right, our presidential candidates do spend too much time in our large states during the general election. This is the standard Clinton strategy, the standard DLC strategy. Many liberals (like myself) hate it. We push something called the 50-state strategy.

To Lawrence.. the 50 state strategy is the exact opposite of the standard american campaign strategy. Instead of just putting effort into “Places we can win” we put effort into every place, even hopeless battles. The idea behind this is that it energizes the electorate and helps to defeat the ‘inertia’ effect of politics. This is why, in 2006, the Democrats were able to oust long-held Republican seats– Howard Dean pushed the 50 state strategy.

Generally, incumbents spend their time getting donations and remaining uncontested. These people often end up being weak candidates in a real campaign, and with thousands of real campaigns ranging from the presidency to tiny state house/senate seats, the Republicans end up too spread out and, yeah, ousted.

So, how that ties into the general election.. Traditionally the Democratic strategy (Read: Clinton/DLC) is to target those big states. Barack Obama breaks from this mold as he has targeted *every* state, and similarly, he would target every state in the general election. He recognizes that even if he can’t win a small, red state, he’ll energize the Democratic base there are Get Out The Vote (GOTV) which could help local contests.

The American system is extremely complex (not to say that others aren’t!), largely because there’s been so many local rules and regulations that have coagulated into a beauracratic/political mess. I’ve often supported the proportional vote, but the problem is that many Americans often end up being sort of ‘tricked’ into who they support. People end up convinced they are D, or R, or whatever… but often aren’t. To explain, the Pew Foundation has done many studies which show that while the majority of Americans, when surveyed, support Democratic ideas (about healthcare, social security, etc), the majority of Americans don’t self-identify as Democratic.

This is probably due in part to the corporate bias in the media, as well as the overwhelming Conservative bias in Radio. Rush Limbaugh alone has 30 million listeners, so their influence, though subtle, is undeniable…

I regret that Lessig isn’t running, but it makes sense. So it goes.

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