Lawrence Lessig, the internet policy activist running a quixotic campaign for president, has dropped out of the race, saying a rule change for Democratic debates has made it impossible for him to qualify.
Lessig, who was crowdfunding his campaign, ran on a simple platform: pass one law, then resign. That law, the Citizen Equality Act, would seek to change how elections are funded and give new protections to ensure voters' rights. Once passed, Lessig planned to hand over the presidency to his vice president.
In a video, Lessig explained that an apparent change of rules for qualifying in Democratic debates had prevented him from appearing, making it unlikely that he'd be able to effectively introduce himself to a broader electoral base. "I may be known in tiny corners of the tubes of the internet, but I am not well known to the American public generally," he says in the video.
Rather than continue on with the campaign, Lessig says he will "turn to the question of how best to press for this reform now."
In the video, Lessig also reflects on his relationship with the activist Aaron Swartz, who guided him away from his work on internet policy toward politics more generally. "What he got me to see then, we must find a way to get all of america to see now," Lessig says. "That we can’t solve any of the problems that this nation must address until we fix the crippled and corrupted institution of Congress first."