Monday, September 7, 2015

I'm (Provisionally) for Lessig

I can't vote for any of the Republicans. I believe immigrants are the engine of our economy (plus I value diversity), I don't think taxes are too high, I think austerity's a self-defeating approach to recession, I've had it with dim-witted neo-conservative hawkish hubris, and I prefer an evenly-split Supreme Court (a Republican's appointee(s) would skew it firmly conservative for at least a generation).

Plus, I'm incensed over a few Republican moves that struck me as near-treasonous - the government shutdown brinksmanship, the letter to the Iranian mullahs insisting we won't honor an elected president's negotiated treaties, and the openly-stated policy to oppose literally every Obama proposal from day one (no matter how much the nation might need it, like the Jobs Bill), including even Republican-originated policy such as the Affordable Care Act. The Democrats were certainly obstructive under Bush, but nothing like that. Dems came together for the good of the country (and, re: the Military Authorization Against Iraq, for the bad of the country, too). You can put party ahead of nation, but you'll have certainly lost my vote. Buh-bye.

Hillary's a hawk (pretend long enough and it freezes), and I honestly suspect something's seriously wrong with her (if you're Hillary Clinton, you do not give scandal-happy foes red meat like this clunk-headed email situation, which was perfectly avoidable; it eerily reminds me of Bill and his blowjobs).

I admire some of Bernie Sanders' positions, but while I've long ago outgrown my Libertarianism, and no longer see the government as my enemy, I recoil from someone so callow as to call himself a Socialist. As I once wrote:
I wouldn't want to return to 1973. We went too far. You could feel society slogging and smell the rot (and pay a tax rate north of 90%). 1973 could have made a Tea Party partisan out of any but the most fervid of current liberals.
Sanders seems downright fond of 1973. And while no one president has the latitude to sharply change a society's direction, I'm mistrustful of his hand on the rudder. Like Trump, he strikes me as more of a venter than a political pragmatist. The left rues Obama's half-measures, but he's gotten an enormous amount done via patient and skilled realpolitik. He's been an incredible centrist president (and I suspect history will judge him so). And Bernie ain't that.

That leaves Lawrence Lessig, who declared his candidacy yesterday after raising $1M in small donations. As someone who creates for a living, I was incensed by Lessig's "Information Must Be Free" shtick - his defense of file-sharing, etc.. I saw him as pandering, and found it hypocritical from a guy who writes expensive books, himself. In fact, I at one point planned to dump the sum total of Lessig's on-sale writings into public domain, but finally decided not to, because it would have harmed his publishers.

But he's right on this one. He announced yesterday he's definitely running for president, and you ought to read his statement, which is short, readable, and persuasive. He'll be a one-issue "referendum" candidate; the plan is to win office, effect drastic campaign finance reform, and immediately quit. I agree that the issue of money in politics precedes all other problems (for example, climate change will never be addressed unless we ease the chokehold of billionaires on's one of many issues the people want addressed but the donor class does not).

I'm not normally a referendum kind of guy, but I agree this issue has developed into a cancer, and must be stamped out. Even if Lessig loses, his support base will register with the other candidates. I want to see that base be huge. If you feel likewise, please consider contributing (so he can communicate more) and spreading the word. Let's all be his collective billionaire.

In the end, it will all come down to the quality of Lessig's VP candidate (the person who'll actually serve). But for now, I'm in.


Muscle_Burst said...

I read the link, I don't understand how Lessig plans to un-rig the elections and how they are rigged in the first place. For example this paragraph.

"In the way campaigns are funded, in the way the poor and overworked are denied an equal freedom to vote, and in the way whole sections of American voters get written into oblivion by politically gerrymandered districts that assure their views are not represented, we have allowed the politicians to cheat us of the most fundamental commitment of a democracy: equal citizens."

How are the poor denied an equal freedom to vote? Gerrymandered no clue what that means. I can feel my brain working hard to understand the new information.

Unknown said...

"How are the poor denied an equal freedom to vote? Gerrymandered no clue what that means"

Actually, I'm only on Jim's "slog" because of the current Chowhound issues & I have no clue as to whether or not your questions are genuine or dissenting commentary. However, since I think I can shed some light on their answers, I figure "why not"?

First of all, when you create documentation criteria in order to vote, those with fewer resources have more trouble collecting (or already having at their fingertips) that documentation. When you need to get that documentation from the local bureaucracy that may have already been instructed to put additional obstacles in the way of your collecting such documentation, there's even less likelihood of you getting everything needed. Then, when you ensure that voting booths are located away from certain neighborhoods & where public transportation does not go directly to the polling sites and are only open at times when getting to them may be a problem for certain folks, well you can see the potential result. There's more, but I'll stop at that.

Secondly, gerrymandering is pure genius to skew representation. Lets say you have a mile square location with a couple of blocks of concentrated poor folk (think newly gentrifying urban neighborhoods or rural areas where the poorer folks in these couple of blocks are not land owners and outnumber the others who are, since they are spread out) and this mile square neighborhood gets one representative & is next to a 90% poor neighborhood which will vote the same way as those in the couple of poor blocks. Well, why not take the couple of poor blocks and add them to the adjacent neighborhood's voting precinct? That way, the adjacent neighborhood's one representative stays the same and the non-poor neighbors in the mile square location I'm using as example don't get outvoted by those in the couple of poor blocks and get to elect a representative that would've lost to one similar to the adjacent area. In case you think this doesn't happen (done by both parties everywhere), all you have to do is look at NYC's districts. My reasonably wealthy neighborhood in Bklyn is part of an election district including, not my federal housing project neighbors only blocks away from me, but a downtown Manhattan area with folks very similar to me and my immediate neighbors. Districts in rural Alabama are similarly structured and are not the square, rectangle or circular areas most people would think would comprise an "area".

Hope this was somewhat helpful.

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