The Harvard professor and activist vowed Tuesday to run for president if he can raise $1 million in crowdfunding in order to make citizen equality the most important issue in the upcoming presidential election. “We need a campaign that is more than just a partisan squabble,” Lessig says in a clip as he introduces the idea of a referendum president. “We need a campaign for a referendum. A referendum that speaks our mandate clearly: End this inequality and corruption; give us a government free from the money. Give us a Congress free to lead.” Watch the entirety of his compelling message below.

From The Verge:

In a Tuesday announcement, Lessig told reporters that he’s prepared to take on Democratic presidential hopefuls by making campaign finance reform his core platform. Instead of relying on wealthy donors, however, he is crowdfunding his campaign online, and will officially run if he raises $1 million by Labor Day. His hope is to dismantle corruption in Washington by making citizen equality the central pillar of his presidency.

Lessig believes that money’s influence in politics has crippled what should be a representative democracy. The overall lack of campaign finance reform — along with the landmark Citizens United v. FEC decision — has made way for moneyed individuals having disproportionate power over political decision-making. Lessig says that, if elected, he will “hack” the system by serving as a referendum president, one who will focus his energies solely on passing the Citizen Equality Act. That act will undo political corruption by changing how elections are funded, guarantee the right to vote, and end partisan gerrymandering. After achieving all this, he’ll step down, paving the way for his vice president to finish his term.

So far, Lessig has raised more than $67,000, with 28 days left in the campaign. This is only the latest effort he has made to address campaign financing and inequality. In 2014, he created the Mayday Super PAC to fund candidates who addressed the issue. Nearly everyone the PAC supported lost in their elections.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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