Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Lessig nails it again

Lawrenc Lessig's devastating assessment of the California recall debacle:

Whether or not you believe in the power to recall, the California provision is insanely stupid. It makes no sense to decide the winner on the basis of a plurality. This is just a badly crafted constitutional provision - a kind of constitutional loophole. It's the sort of clause which we fail people for writing in constitution-drafting classes. (No, there are not really any constitution drafting classes, but clearly there should have been in California at the beginning of the last century).


One might say, who could possibly resist such a loophole. That whether it is honorable or not, what politician would forgo the chance to become President or Governor, regardless of the means?

Yet we should remember that many believe that Nixon made essentially this choice when he refused to fight the results in Illinois and thus let Kennedy become President. In his moral universe, that's not how an executive should become an executive.

It is a measure of this Enronera that neither our President nor over 200 candidates in this California recall election live up to the moral standards of even Richard Nixon. By whatever means, they will claim power.

Incidentally, Lessig's quip about "constitution-drafting" actually has more than academic significance; as we learn in the third page of Stephen Levy's WIRED article on Lessig, Lessig helped write the constitution of the Republic of Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, Lessig doesn't even mention this on his massive c.v. If I had helped to draft a national constitution, you can bet it would be at the very top of mine.

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