February 16, 2008

I endorse "Lessig For Congress"

"Lessig For Congress" exploratory efforts are kicking off and I'm going to support them. (from a blog post by Jonathan Zittrain: "I don't think he's fully decided, but the special election is very soon: April 8, with a runoff on June 3, which is the regular California primary election day" - this for the House of Representative seat made vacant by the recent death of Tom Lantos)

I've earlier written a cautionary column about Lessig and corruption and have been worried on several levels about how it'll all turn out. But after thinking for a while about this possible Congressional run, it actually seemed like a good idea all around. If successful, it would raise the average intelligence level of Congress. And also raise Lessig's intelligence level on politics and corruption. Getting deep inside the sausage factory strikes me as very helpful, if someone wants to spend years writing about how sausages are made, and how to make them better (even a loss would be educational here).

Plus there's the local factor of a particular special election, which looks like a great opportunity in terms of the timing. And Lessig's already something like a quasi-political campaigner in effect, so why not take it to the next level? Of course "Great internet campaigns don't guarantee success in politics". Internet celebrity doesn't necessary mean someone definitely will be elected. But there's free media to be had, lots of potential campaign contributors small and big (money matters in politics!) and I can't see much downside from the risk.

Go for it.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in politics | on February 16, 2008 09:09 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Good points.

Though the cult-of-personality stuff is weirding me out a bit.

Also, it might have been a bit more ahead-of-the-curve had JZ launched this campaign a month ago, after Lantos announced his retirement (and before Lantos endorsed Jackie Speier as his successor days later).

I suppose that DraftLessig is a way to whip up a little friendly publicity for the Change-Congress effort.

I checked Lessig's latest blog post-- well, well, well, not only is he *against* earmarks (the death knell for a Representative -- even Ron Paul brings home the pork), but there is a bit of fact-choking here.

So I go to the WaPo article, re-read Lessig's post, read through the comments, and then I saw:

"the Z-listers correcting the A-listers doesn't seem to have much effect."

Of course. All you Infothought readers know who said that!

And yes, there are some Infothought readers who sound like they're tired of that line, but you have to admit, when Lessig Himself flubs this, something is rotten in this medium.

The last comment, from some poster named "Form":

"Another odd jab, complete with an important factual error in the first sentence. It's a silly mistake, one that indicates an over-eagerness to indict Clinton as much as the general lessening of intellectual rigor that characterises Lessig's posts of late."

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at February 17, 2008 10:00 PM

Ugh. Spam alert. (Actually, I *was* thinking of a replica lamborghini... how did that poster know?)

Can I recommend Recaptcha?

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at February 18, 2008 02:31 PM

A commenter at the linked post says "At his Free Culture farewell lecture a few weeks ago, Lessig floated ‘Change Congress’ as the name of his new anti-corruption initiative. Which is not to say that it couldn’t be put to some other use…"

Posted by: Philipp Lenssen at February 18, 2008 03:14 PM

Jon: It's obvious that Lessig is becoming more and more interesting in electoral politics. Note this "draft" is a trial balloon, JZ and Palfrey are very sophisticated men. But floating a trial balloon is OK, especially if Lessig is personally uncertain at this point.

Spam post cleaned out.

Philipp: "Repurposed" :-)

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 18, 2008 03:50 PM