Last week, Barack Obama did a take-back on his pledge to accept public financing. That will have a big effect on the presidential campaign, of course, but Lawrence Lessig points out that it also will have an effect on the Congressional level, where politicians can't raise scads of small-donor Internet money, as Obama has been able to do on an unprecedented level. "I am worried about a decision that makes public funding for them less likely," he writes. "I wish he had decided differently."
Obama's announcement isn't good news for the new group Lessig is involved in, Change Congress, which wants to diminish the influence of money in politics; one of its central goals is to push politicians to support public financing. (The group works with both political parties.)
Getting pols to take that pledge will surely get tougher, for the time being, but Lessig urges supporters to take a longer view: "This is a hugely complex chess game."
Lessig is a professor at Stanford Law School who has moved his focus away from copyright issues to focus on Change Congress and political reform. But his new book,
"Remix," is all about copyright law and culture. It's slated to be
published in October but the AP v. blogosphere scandal inspired me to jump the gun by quoting Lessig on the importance of quotations. Quote-on-quote action, we call that.