If you think Bernie Sanders is a bit squirrely, then Larry Lessig is downright nuts.
The Harvard law professor and (possible) 2016 Democratic presidential candidate has long been an eccentric public figure, but his critique of Bernie Sanders’ campaign last week might have been his biggest head-scratching moment.
Sanders’ sin? Wanting to actually win the election.
Cue the shoulder-shrugging emoji.
In many ways, Lessig and Sanders are cut from the same cloth, finding favor among the far left and championing plenty of the same causes. Most notably, they share a desire to rid the American political system of big money influence.
Before announcing his potential run for the White House—a run contingent upon his ability to raise $1 million dollars by Labor Day (he’s got about $300,000 to go)—Lessig’s most recent moment in the spotlight came during the 2014 midterm election cycle when his Mayday PAC, the “super PAC to end all super PACs,” failed to elect a wave of campaign finance reform congressional candidates.
After the Mayday PAC broke down, Lessig went back to the drawing board to figure out a new way to strike a blow against big money politics, and on June 6 he unveiled his plan in an article entitled “Frodo Baggins for President.” Seriously.
The short of it is that Lessig proposes a candidate (presumably himself) join the race to be nothing more than a “trustee” president. This candidate would make his run about one issue and one issue only: finance reform. Essentially, his election would be a public referendum on that matter, since it would make up the entirety of his platform
Once sworn in, the trustee president would work on nothing other than reform, and once it passed he would step down, yielding the Oval Office to the vice president.
Word count restrictions prohibit an exhaustive critique of this concept here, but let’s just say there is no shortage of problems with the trustee novelty. Even Lessig’s most ardent supporters have expressed skepticism at this proposed “hack of the political system.”
But anyway, back to Sanders.
Apparently, Lessig’s biggest beef is that the Vermont senator is not willing to be Frodo Baggins—that he’s, according to Lessig, been “seduced” by consultants and is too concerned with winning the election.
This preoccupation with winning, to Lessig, has watered down the Sanders campaign, splitting his focus among too many issues, which will supposedly keep him from achieving any substantive political change.
Lessig says Bernie, if elected, will eventually become “Obama v2.0.” The inference here is that because Sanders won’t willingly play Frodo, Larry must reluctantly pick up the ring.
If you’ve ever wanted a perfect example of how life in academia divorces the mind from reality, Lessig is it. Though his ideas might garner high praise in certain beard-stroking circles, they represent the very worst of Ivory Tower fantasyland.
Sure, kudos for thinking outside the box to solve a troubling problem, but knocking a candidate for taking steps to win sounds batty to say the least.
Still, let’s not be too hard on Lessig. After all, he’s just a product of his environment. The confines of high academia often keep its inhabitants from formulating ideas that translate effectively into the real word. Sadly, this is where the left gets many of its pretty-sounding concepts.
And Bernie Sanders is having a field day touting academia-incubated notions. He’s only seven points behind Hillary Clinton in Iowa, and has passed her in New Hampshire. Sanders is proving not just to be their darling, but to be the white knight of the far left.
Except for the subset that doesn’t like winning. Because, apparently, such a group exists.
Only on the left.