For all of the furor and sweat over the 2016 presidential field, for all of the candidates sitting back with an eye on 2020 — or maybe even 2024, in some cases — there’s one candidate who’s been willing to play the long game. As of today, we are eight years in to what will almost certainly end up being the longest presidential campaign in history — a campaign that will be four decades old by the time voters go to the polls. Meet Andrew Lessig, the first declared candidate for the 2048 election. Lessig graduated from the University of Alaska at Anchorage last year and now is in law school near Syracuse, N.Y. When we spoke by phone Wednesday, he declared, in the spirit of all great candidacies, that he didn’t plan to run. In fact, he said, “I’d totally forgotten that it had even happened until you mentioned it.”
How does one inadvertently become a presidential candidate and then forget about it? “I was very interested in politics back when I was in middle school,” he told me. His candidacy “grew out of an education program I was doing with the Boy Scouts. I was putting on the meeting program one month and I wanted to do it on civics. I looked into it, and looked into what it actually takes to run for federal office.” Lessig discovered that it’s as simple as filling out a two-page form.
So he filled it out, listing his home address in California. And then he sent it in. He even set up a domain for his candidacy: freewebs.com/lessig2048. Sadly, that site has been lost to the ages. (Why 2048? “2048 just sounded like a good year,” he said. Plus, he would be in his 50s, not some green 35-year-old who barely meets the age requirement.)
On the second page of the document, candidates can easily set up a candidate committee. So he did that, too.