Larry Lessig: Want to end inequality? Do this first

A presidential run to drive the money out of politics?
A presidential run to drive the money out of politics?

The day Larry Lessig announced he was running for president, he got a message from his kids' school.

It said: Sorry, your dad running for president isn't a valid excuse to miss class.

That's one of many lessons Lessig, the ultimate Democratic outsider, is learning since he announced his bid for the 2016 race on Sept. 9.

Lessig is a Harvard law professor who vaulted into the Democratic race with one goal: To get money out of politics.

You can't fix inequality, climate change, health care or the student debt crisis, Lessig argues, until you fix America's broken political system.

"Everybody knows the system is broken," he told CNNMoney. "Until we solve this problem, we won't be able to address any of those other problems."

He often cites the stat that a mere 400 American families have given half of the 2016 political donations so far.

"That's the product of radical inequality," he says.

Related: America's companies are hoarding $1.4 trillion in cash

I've got a better solution than Trump

Donald Trump -- the Republican outsider -- has also brought up how money rigs the political game. Trump constantly reminds voters that because he's so wealthy, he's funding his own campaign. Thus he doesn't have to beg for money -- and make promises to the rich people funding him.

Lessig applauds Trump for talking bluntly about how money corrupts, but he thinks there's a big flaw in Trump's plan to fix it.

"Donald Trump's solution to the problem he's identified is to elect billionaires. I think we fought a revolution about that and sent the aristocrats home," says Lessig, adding that he thinks 99% of what Trump says is "crazy."

Lessig is running to be the political equivalent of a "one-hit wonder." He thinks being president would be an amazing job, but if elected, he vows to stay in office only long enough to get what he's dubbed the Citizens Equality Act passed. Then he would step aside and let the vice president take over.

Related: Pope Francis: Critic of capitalism since 1990s

Larry Lessig

We need to get money out of politics first

He hasn't named a running mate, but he says he would be very happy to team up with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.

So why is he running?

He sees himself like Frodo in "The Lord of the Rings." He's got a clear mandate to do one thing. If voters elect him, he will have one task. Other candidates like Sanders have 10 or 15 goals they want to achieve. Campaign finance reform is on the list, but it's too easy for it move aside in favor of other priorities, Lessig claims.

Lessig's Citizens Equality Act aims to restrict how much money businesses and people can give political candidates, to guarantee legal protections to all voters and to end gerrymandering that makes so many Congressional districts "safe seats" for one party or the other.

Lessig has views on a lot of other issues from more gun control to favoring a single-payer health care system. But he thinks un-rigging the system will ensure the will of the American people gets done.

"The big difference between me and everybody else is I've said this issue has to be addressed first," he says.

Related: Pope Francis wants climate action. What's the cost?

The Washington political circles have written him off entirely. He fighting to get into the upcoming Democratic candidate debates on TV. And Lessig points to evidence that he has a real following:

-He's raised over $1.1 million -- via a Kickstarter campaign

-72% of donations are $50 or less

-He has 355,000 Twitter followers -- more than Chris Christie.

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