Harvard Professor Larry Lessig Says He's Running for President

PHOTO: Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, speaks onstage during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival, March 14, 2015 in Austin, Texas. PlaySandra Dahdah/Getty Images
WATCH Larry Lessig Announces He is Running for President

After exceeding his $1 million crowd-funding goal, Harvard Law School professor Larry Lessig announced today on “This Week” that he is running for president.

“I think I'm running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room,” he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. "We have to recognize -- we have a government that does not work. The stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work.”

If elected, he says he will be the first “referendum president,” promising to serve only as long as it takes to pass his Citizens Equality Act of 2017 -- a bill aimed at reforming campaign finance, voting rights, and Congressional representation. Once the bill is passed, Lessig said he would then step down, handing over the reins to his vice president.

His second in command, according to Lessig, has to be “consistent with the values of the Democratic Party” and should be able to excite the base. While he did not name a running mate, his website has a vice president poll featuring the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Jon Stewart, and Hillary Clinton.

The concept of a referendum president is new, but Lessig said if elected, fixing the “corrupted system” should be his first and only priority.

“If you have seven other issues that you're running on, that of course you get into Washington and everybody thinks your mandate is one of this or one of that,” he said. “That's not going to make it possible to take this on.”

While critics have accused him of “dumbing down” the debate, Lessig believes his plan will actually “elevate” it above the partisan divide by taking on an issue he said Americans agree on: campaign finance reform. Lessig said his proposed platform “would fix this democracy and make it possible for government to actually do something without fear of what the funders want them to do.”

The Harvard professor is now the sixth candidate campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for president. He now needs to reach 1 percent in national polls to make it to the debate stage.