Lessig for Congress?

Wowza. As I just submitted to /.:

With the unfortunate passing of Congressman Tom Lantos parts of Silicon Valley and San Francisco will be having a special election in June to send a replacement to Congress. Given the area, it would be great to have someone who is both tech and policy-aware fill the seat- and it looks like that just might happen, with a ‘Draft Lessig’ group forming on facebook, featuring some of Lessig’s old co-workers at Harvard and Jimmy Wales, among others, and Lessig apparently buying ‘change-congress.com’. No word from the man himself yet, but he’s been increasingly vocal about politics of late. If it happens, it would be a huge step forward for the representation of technology in Washington.

‘Huge step forward’ is a massive understatement, of course, but /. seems to like it that way.1 Lessig is not always right, and he’s not himself a technologist, but compared to the current state of things in Congress, he’d be a revelation for the software industry and for users of technology.

  1. Yes, I miss the early /., back when it was a college student and a blog instead of An Industry. []

12 thoughts on “Lessig for Congress?”

  1. HosLuis Villaoch Slashdot läser jag att det ryktas om att Lawrence Lessig ska ställa upp i ett fyllnadsval till den amerikanska kongressen! Jonathan Zittrain har noterat att Lessig registrerat ett passande domännamn, change-congress.com.

  2. Maybe Congress is aiming to low for Lessig. If Obama wins the presidency maybe a supreme court seat could within Lessig’s reach.

  3. It’s been a long time since a non-judge was named to the court; and longer since a non-judge non-politician was named. Possibly more relevantly, SCOTUS doesn’t set their own agenda, to a large extent- and I get the sense Lessig wants to do that. Certainly he’s used to setting the agenda at this point :)

  4. I’d rather see Lessig stay where he is. We’ve already got a strong candidate to replace Lantos: Jackie Speier. Everyone is going on and on now about what a hero Lantos was, but he was an Iraq war hawk as well as an aggressive spewer of threats in Iran’s direction, and originally Speier was going to challenge Lantos in the primary, before Lantos announced his retirement because of health problems. Nevertheless, Lantos endorsed Speier as his successor.

    If you think that the “IP wars” are the only issue, maybe Lessig looks good to you. But we need to save the Constitution, and I haven’t seen much from Lessig on that. Sure, Lessig’s anti-corruption ethic will make him a leading fighter against earmarks, but if you get rid of earmarks and change nothing else, you just shift more power from Congress to the President (because when the president proposes a budget, we don’t call his/her choices earmarks even when they are chosen to benefit friends). Speier was against the war from the beginning and has been a fighter in California for single-payer health care. Unlike Lessig, she has experience running local and state-wide campaigns.

    Speier started her career as an aide to Rep. Leo Ryan; Ryan was killed and Speier was wounded when they went to Guyana to investigate Jonestown (the mass suicide happened just after the Ryan murder).

  5. I’d vote for Lessig – no question. I think the US population has no clue what the IP implications are in the future competitive landscape that we’re about to see and they’re certainly not prone to elect those who do. I’d love to see Lessig shakeup Washington a bit (or byte).

  6. Earmarks are the tip of the corruption iceberg. Many, much larger, of Congress’ decisons are based on corporate welfare: the DMCA, sugar quotas, the energy bill, tax policy. Voting down or vetoing earmarks is a sideshow.

    The master plan, of course is: Google finally gets serious about click fraud and web spam, and hires 30,000 of the top-rated Slashdot moderators to staff “abuse@google.com” at a new green office park in North Dakota. All those new ND nerd voters organize the Cowboy Neal party, and elect Lessig and Prof. Eben Moglen to the Senate.

  7. Look, Lessig’s not perfect. There are many reasons to think he’d be a bad Congressman. And the potential challenger may be a very good choice. But… Joe, your reasons for attacking him are just plain dumb. He’s made it very clear that his corruption thing has very little to do with earmarks; it goes much deeper and is much more substantive than that. And before he was a ‘cyberlaw’ guy, he was a very respected constitutional law theorist. If your prime issue is abuse of the constitution (which is, I agree, very important), I could think of few people who are more familiar with the issue and who’d be more likely to stick to actual principles instead of vapid politics masquerading as constitutional issues.

    So… sure. Possibly this is a bad idea. But that is not why.

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