For a couple of weeks I’d seen Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig on the tube talking about a potential run for President. The election reformer in me liked what I was hearing. Then I heard a talking head, whose name I don’t remember, on Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast get really irate over Lessig’s proposition. Despite being liberal, she seemed practically insulted by what Lessig had planned. I found her over the top until I gave it more thought.
Lessig’s idea is to have a referendum presidency. If elected, he would pursue one goal and one goal only, campaign finance reform including the overturning of the Citizens United SCOTUS decision. Once he has achieved his reforms he will resign, handing the presidency over to his VP.
The idea, of course, is absurd. The world won’t stop while Lessig pursues his single issue agenda. Nations fight amongst each other. Natural disasters occur. Economies go in the toilet. What does Lessig plan to do while these events swirl around him? As far as I can tell, not a damn thing.
And this is where I understand the Slate panelist’s irritability. As a country we’ve got big problems and we need a President fit to take them on. Lessig represents the bizarro-world polar opposite of Donald Trump. Where Trump has a “just trust me” approach devoid of intellectual rigor, Lessig is an egg head intellectual reinventing the presidency to suit his experimental parameters.
Lessig has officially declared his candidacy and I, for one, wish he’d just go away. Running for president shouldn’t be some university social lab exercise. Intellectual masturbation should be confined to journal articles and talk shows. It has no place in running to lead a troubled nation.
What do you think? The bar is open.