Lawrence Lessig had a fascinating new strategery. He would ask a Republican House to pass a salutary reform package. Republicans would have no choice but to pass this statute because running a single-issue campaign transforms a campaign into a referendum because something. And then he would triumphantly resign, perhaps to turn the reigns over to Jim Webb who would also get bored in a couple weeks and turn the White House over to Fred Thompson, and so on.
Alas, the “take my ball and go home” component of the plan is now inoperative:
The resignation idea was mine, so naturally, I resisted the skepticism. But I was wrong to resist it. And just how wrong was shown to me in the first poll we could run after our campaign was funded.
In a 1,008-person survey about the idea of a referendum presidency, Drew Westen, perhaps the Democrats’ most influential messaging guru, tested both the idea of a campaign focused on fixing our democracy first, and the idea of a president resigning once that work was done.
The resignation idea was a total bust. No one liked it. At all.
But the idea of an outsider making fundamental reform the central issue of the campaign blew the race apart.
After a careful description of the idea, and me, the poll found that my support didn’t just increase. It dominated the field. And while the survey was not designed to test the ultimate strength of one candidate against the other—so the (insanely high) numbers it found supporting me can’t be read as a measure of actual predicted support—the survey did show the astonishing potential for such a campaign in America today. This fundamental issue, properly presented, totally changed the race.
Whoa, back up:
Drew Westen, perhaps the Democrats’ most influential messaging guru
1)Please tell me that the “most influential” assertion is not true.
2)Lessig working with Westen seems over-over determined.
Anyway, I’m sure Westen has created polling data showing that if Lessig focuses on procedural reforms without the resignation idea, Lessig will “blow the race apart.” Good luck with that!
So now what?
That makes sense—for a politician. The data show that from a politician, the message of reform isn’t effective. People don’t believe it. For a politician, the better strategy is to promise the moon—ignoring the truth that the rocket can’t get off the ground.
But I am not constrained in the way the politicians are. Westen’s data shows that. And so if you believe as I do that restoring our democracy is the most important challenge before us—the thing we must do if we’re to do anything else—then it’s time to swallow pride, and follow the data.
If the Democrats won’t take seriously a candidate with a viable, credible, and professionally managed campaign just because it includes a promise to step aside once the work is done, then fine. You win. I drop that promise.
I am running for president. I am running with the purpose of restoring this democracy. I will make that objective primary. I will do everything possible to make it happen first, by working with Congress to pass fundamental reform first.
After we pass that reform, I will remain as president to make sure the reforms stick. I will work with Congress to assure they are implemented. I will defend them against legislative or legal attack.
Lessig has a plan to get a Republican House to pass legislation that would be contrary to both its ideological and practical interests. His previous plan was to force the House to do this because the election would be a REFERENDUM (note: not actually a referendum.) His new plan is to argue that DATA shows that this can happen so long as the president is an outsidery outsider. Data complied by…Drew Westen, a man almost comically ignorant about the most basic details of how the political process functions.
The fact that this all starts out by arguing that for a mere politician “the better strategy is to promise the moon—ignoring the truth that the rocket can’t get off the ground” just makes it extra awesome.