MayDay is a cry for help–an internationally-recognized distress symbol.
It’s also the name of a new–and very different– crowdsourced SuperPac to end all SuperPacs, intended to get money out of politics. MayDay is the brainchild of Lawrence Lessig. Most of us know of Lessig through Creative Commons, and his work to keep information free, but he has also had a longstanding concern about political corruption and the influence of money in politics. Here’s his bio:
Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and founder of Rootstrikers, a network of activists leading the fight against government corruption. He has authored numerous books, including Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Our Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Free Culture, and Remix.
Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and on the Advisory Boards of the Sunlight Foundation and the Better Future Project. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.
Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.
This is not a lightweight, nor someone interested in gaining political celebrity. (He’s also not someone who can be labeled and dismissed as just another Leftist academic; he would hardly have clerked for Posner and Scalia if he were.) You can find his video explanation of what MayDay is trying to do–the Plan to Get our Democracy Back–here, along with several other videos. Early this month, MayDay passed the $5 million dollar mark and ceased fundraising for this cycle.
Will this plan work? Who knows? Lessig is the founder, and probably the best-known of the MayDay group, but several of the other participants listed on the website are equally impressive. I noted Trevor Potter–previously head of the FEC (not to mention the Colbert Report’s satirical SuperPac series)–and a number of younger entrepreneurs adept in social media.
I sent a few bucks. Couldn’t hurt.
I can’t remember a time when yelling “MayDay” seemed more appropriate…