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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lawrence Lessig Endorses…

posted by on February 5 at 15:23 PM

Lawrence Lessig—founder of Creative Commons, EFF board member, copyleft demigod—strongly endorses Obama.

But it’s important not because of the details about Barack Obama’s policy strengths. I believe his policies are strong, especially the policies I know something in particular about his technology policies are extremely strong. But policy differences between these two candidates are actually quite small….

This is a man who will inspire as he leads. He will inspire all of us, across racial lines, and gender lines, across class lines, across age. He will inspire us because he can capture, in a way that very few presidents in the last hundred years have been able to capture, the imagination of a generation….

So I want you to shut your eyes and imagine what it will seem like to a young man in Iraq or in Iran, who wakes up on January 21st, 2009, and sees the picture of this man as the president of the United States. A man who opposed the war at the beginning, a man who worked his way up from almost nothing, a man who came from a mother and a father of mixed cultures and mixed societies, who came from a broken home to overcome all of that to become the leader in his class, at the Harvard Law Review, and an extraordinary success as a politician. How can they see us when they see us as having chosen this man as our president?

There can be no clearer way that we could say, that we could say that the United States could say, that we have changed, than by electing this man. There is no way we could more clearly move on toward peace than this. He represents the very best of who we are, the best of character, of integrity and ideals. And someone who opposed the war from the start.

Or, to put it in a different way, here is an e-mail exchange I had with a friend yesterday:

>Subject: A question of History
> Has a dark skinned man ever been elected to run a majority light skinned
> country?
> - Jonathan

no, this will be the first time.

(Thanks NaFun.)

RSS icon Comments


Just what I'd expect a MAN to say...


Posted by AMB | February 5, 2008 3:56 PM

As did more than HALF of all slashdot voters (that's tech geek to you n00bz).

Feel the Blue Tidal Wave!

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 5, 2008 4:14 PM

they are longtime friends and colleagues. it would be bizarre if he didn't endorse obama.

Posted by josh | February 5, 2008 4:15 PM

He's right, though. Seeing Obama become the US President would do more to turn the Middle East towards us and away from dead-end extremism than anything I could possibly imagine.

Posted by Fnarf | February 5, 2008 4:26 PM

It's funny how it is considered racism to note the skin color of perpetrators of violent crime, but not in any way racist to tout Obama's skin color as a reason to vote for him.

Oh and by funny I meant sad.

Posted by Chris | February 5, 2008 5:09 PM

I guess Fnarf can't imagine us getting the hell out of the Holy Land, taking our bases off their land, and ceasing our blind support of Israel.

Posted by huh | February 5, 2008 5:23 PM

@ Fnarf- but unfortunately the radical Islamacists hate the more secular and liberal people among their own more than they hate us, so it could backfire as he would be seen as a race traitor, someone who embraced Christianity instead of Islam (the religion of his father's side of the family), etc.

Posted by erika | February 5, 2008 6:09 PM

I'm big fan of Lessig's writing. I use his book, "Free Culture" in a class I teach. I also may well vote for Obama before all is said and done.

But unlike hundreds of commenters on Digg, who evidently found Lessig's 20 minute video presentation in support of Obama the height of sensible, well reasoned argument, I found it actually pretty weak, devoid of substance, and maybe even a tad on the naive side (perhaps the thought of influencing tech policy in the Obama adminstration is so beguiling that it has blinded Lessig).

Essentially, he said that there was no significant policy difference between Clinton and Obama, so vote for Obama because he seems more honest, he'll energize youth, and he'll somehow send a different message to the Middle East by virtue of being a person of color.

While there may well be some truth in these points, I'm not sure they add up to a slam dunk for Obama. I guess I was hoping for something a little deeper from Lessig than "I just think Obama is cooler."

It's true, Obama is Google to HRC's Microsoft.

I guess the question is what application do we need to address our present problems? A hot new search engine or a full-featured and reliable office application suite?

That's what has me confused about how to vote.

It's not that Google couldn't make a reliable and full-featured office application suite. But they don't have one now. Can we really afford to give them the time it will take to get that together? I'm not sure we can. That's my worry.

Microsoft already has such a suite in place and lots of experience making it work. Their search technology is also probably closer to matching Google's than Google's office suite technology is to matching MS's.

It's true. Google is newer and cooler with the kids. MS has lots of baggage from being the dominant monopolist. There's lots more of a historical record to investigate and many more fuck-ups that need to be accounted for. The bloom has been off that rose for a long time now. It's mainstream, stuffy, corporate, and a little bit embarrassing when it tries to be otherwise.

But even speaking as a mac user, I have to acknowledge that MS shit works pretty damn good considering the task they've taken on (making their stuff work on a really broad range of hardware).

This to me seems like an inherently more difficult integration task than the one Google (or for that matter Apple) has taken on.

I know this is torturing an analogy pretty much beyond recognition. But it underscores my personal struggle here.

I do like Obama better. He's got the nice gravitas. He's a natural. He's such a natural that even a lot of feminist ladies are confused about what to do. They don't want to betray a hardworking sister who has earned her shot, but damn this guy has that thing.

By comparison, HRC seems like the 2008, female version of Richard Nixon, definitely not a natural. She's a graceless mix of pure will and blind ambition. She's going to iron butt her way to victory just like she has in every other challenge she has ever faced.

But when she starts talking about health care reform, as she did in a televised address I saw on C-Span this past weekend, I believe her. And when it's time to spell out a plan, her plan makes more sense. Why the hell shouldn't everyone have to opt into that? Isn't the goal universal coverage for a reasonable price?

The people who have messed this country up are ruthless motherfuckers. Bill Clinton is the only Dem in the last 25 years who has shown any aptitude for playing the game the way the Repubs play it (like the Detroit Pistons of the Rick Mahorn era). I suspect HRC will also play the game that way, which is why the Repubs hate the Clintons so much.

It's all well and good for Obama to talk about change, unity, etc. But I have to be honest, I'm sick of seeing my people get their ass kicked. Clinton is the only Dem in the last 40 years who managed to kick even a little bit of Repub ass. I wanna believe Obama might be able to do that too. But he has less of a track record.

Change is good. But I think it's worth considering this before jumping headling into the Obama: A lot of the most passionate Obama people I know were also the ones clamoring for Nader in 2000. They wanted change too. They were tired of the DLC middle path. They wanted some action on their issues.

They got so fixated on that idea that they lost sight of the ball. They couldn't see all the nice little incremental changes that had happened through the 1990s.

As a result, we ended up with the last 8 years, which were worse than anyone could have possibily imagined in the fat and happy times leading up to 2000, when unemployment was low, gas was cheap, and the budget was almost balanced.

Peace is definitely an important priority. But health care is also huge. If we don't sort that out, it's going to hamper our ability to compete in the global economy. The Clintons new this in 1992. They came in with big ideas and not much experience. They fucked up the healthcare thing and a lot of other stuff in their first few years in office. Fortunately for us, the situation in 1992-1994 was forgiving enough that these fuck-ups weren't fatal.

We may not be so lucky this time.

I hope folks will as least take those things seriously, before deciding what bus to jump on. I know I am. It might just be the toughest choice I've ever had to make since I became legal to vote.

Posted by j-lon | February 5, 2008 7:10 PM

XKCD's Randall Munroe also endorsed Obama, in part based on his interaction with Lessig.

Posted by Chris in Tampa | February 5, 2008 7:33 PM

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