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Lessig for Congress?

February 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Several months ago, Larry Lessig, a law professor who has spent the past ten years as the free culture movement’s leading advocate, announced his decision to switch his focus to the issue of government corruption. Now, only a few months later, Lessig’s preparing to make another big decision: whether becoming a member of Congress is the most effective way for him to root out the corruption he sees there.

With the death of Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), a seat in his district has opened up and a special election to fill it will be held on April 8th. Through Facebook and another website — draftlessig.org — people began calling for Lessig to run for Lantos’s seat, and last night he announced that he is in fact considering a run for Congress.

In his video announcing his potential run for Congress (below), Lessig also laid out three principles for changing how Washington works and challenged every member of Congress to adopt them. The principles, which make up his “”http://change-congress.org/“>Change Congress” movement are these: that members of congress will individually not take money from lobbyists or PACs, that they will vote to ban earmarks in the congressional appropriations process and that they will support public financing of campaigns.

There’s been some talk in the blogs about whether or not becoming a member of Congress is the best tactic for changing Congress. At TPM Cafe, for example, Andrew Golis, argues that if Lessig stays outside of DC, he could be “a more powerful voice as a public intellectual with a big audience.” There’s also some hesitation among Democrats to choose Lessig over his well-regarded would-be competitor Jackie Speier. Lessig has given himself a March 1st dealine for making a final decision whether or not to run.

Here’s Lessig’s announcement of the Change Congress movement and his possible run for office:

And if you haven’t already seen his fabulous “alpha” lecture on corruption, do yourself a favor; set aside an hour and watch it:

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