Larry Lessig's Dream Candidate

It's not who you think.

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

A little-known Harvard law professor and campaign-finance reformer, Lawrence Lessig, has announced he is considering a run for the Democratic presidential nomination focused solely on the issue of money in politics. Aside from the obvious question -- how much will this hurt the Lincoln Chafee campaign? -- another arises: Does he not realize that his dream candidate is already in the race?

QuickTake Campaign Finance

It’s not Hillary Clinton, though she has said she would consider supporting a constitutional amendment to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It’s not Martin O’Malley, who supports a public financing system with incentives for small contributions. It’s not even Bernie Sanders, who has made attacks against money’s influence in politics a centerpiece of his campaign. All three are raising contributions from traditional special interest groups, and Lessig himself is shaking the money tree.

There is only one candidate who is thus far eschewing the money race altogether, running an (intentionally) frugal campaign and attacking Washington’s culture of corruption, and the politicians -- in both parties -- who dance for dollars.

Usually such candidates struggle to get their message out. It has long been the dream of campaign finance reformers to have an unbought, unbossed, unvarnished crusader who would capture the public’s attention and galvanize public frustration with the system.

Finally, they’ve got their man: Donald Trump.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.