Putting the vanity in vanity candidate:
I had an idea. It proved right. It proved wrong. Can I act on the right bit, despite the wrong?
In July, I decided to try something that no one else had done: to launch a campaign for a “referendum president,” focused on ending the system of corruption that has crippled our government. Whether it’s a minimum wage that’s a living wage, or making social security secure, or assuring clean air and safe water, or taking on Wall Street, or health-care reform that would make health insurance affordable—none of these issues, or any other important issue, can be addressed sensibly in America until we fix this corruption, first.
This corruption has a cause. Its cause is inequality. Not the inequality of wealth—though that is made more extreme by the inequality I mean. Instead, the inequality of citizens. Americans have allowed an extraordinary inequality among citizens to grow within our so-called “representative democracy.” The consequence is a “democracy” ripe for capture by cronies and worse, while unresponsive to average voters. Corruption is the disease. Equality is the cure. My campaign would be a referendum demanding the changes that would restore citizen equality, so as to crack the corruption that has crippled our Congress and hence our government.
The idea of a “referendum president” has three parts:
First, it is focused on the need to fix our democracy first—to take it back from the billionaires and corporations, so we’d have a chance of addressing sensibly the host of critical problems that we face as a nation.
Second, it would be led by a political outsider, someone we could trust who was not tied to the system, and was thus free to change it.
And third, it would be self-limiting: Once the reform was enacted, the referendum president would step down.
On August 11, I launched an exploratory committee, promising I’d enter the race if we raised $1 million in commitments in less than 30 days. We crossed that line early, with more than 10,000 donations. On September 9, I entered the race at an event in Claremont, New Hampshire. Immediately after, I began campaigning across New Hampshire and the country.
Lawrence Lessig had one issue he was running on- elect me, I will change how politics work, then quit. Seriously- that was it. It was the underpants gnome campaign:
1.) Elect Lessig and enact Citizen Equality Act.
And that really was it. He would resign after somehow getting a Republican House (because he would have no coattails as an outsider) to pass a bill the Senate would not filibuster and the right wing junta in the Court would not strike down, he’d sign it, and then we’d be in the land of milk and honey, bitches!
Some of us pointed this out. Some of us noticed he might probably not get elected on one issue that has no chance of passing and that he might just possibly want to expand his campaign to cover, I dunno, the other 10,000 issues out there. Instead, he complained about the Democrats not including him in the debate and so on and so forth. So back to the drawing board it is, and his lesson was…
The people want him so badly he would change his plan and not resign. Seriously, that was his takeaway:
Had Westen’s survey shown that both ideas were a flop—the idea of a reform campaign, and the idea of resigning once reform was passed—then it would be back to the drawing board, and home to my family.
Had the survey shown that both ideas were winners, then I would power on, more disciplined about controlling the message, but reinforced in the truth of the ultimate plan.
But what’s the right thing to do when the substance of the idea is confirmed, but its implementing strategy rejected? Is there a way back from the commitment to both?
(Cue Lyle Lovett, from “Here I am”:
He’s also begun to discuss the other issues, although not on his website. He’s not too bad on the issues, I will add, but appears to be completely clueless and indifferent regarding the entire political process.
Personally, I would not mind him in the debates- yank Webb and Chaffee and put in Lessig. But he still has no chance.