Democrats Screw Over Larry Lessig To Keep Him Out Of The Debates; Forces Lessig To Drop His Campaign

from the what's-up-dems? dept

Ever since Larry Lessig announced his campaign for the Presidency a few months ago, we noted that it wasn't just a long shot, but seemed more like a gimmick to get the (very real) issue of political corruption into the debates. I like Larry quite a bit and support many of his efforts, but this one did seem kind of crazy. I'm glad that he's willing to take on crazy ideas to see if they'll work, because that's how real change eventually comes about, but the whole thing did seem a bit quixotic. That said, the last thing I expected was that the Democratic Party would be so scared of him as to flat out lie and change the rules to keep his ideas from reaching the public. Yet, that's what it did, and because of that, Lessig has dropped his campaign for the Presidency. You can see the video of him explaining this decision below:
An article from one of his advisers, Steve Jarding, explains the situation in more detail. We already knew that the Democratic Party had tried to keep him out of the debates by not "officially" welcoming him to the race -- as it had done with candidates like Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee who had raised less money and were polling lower than Lessig. And many polling operations hadn't included Lessig in their polls because they relied on the DNC's official welcome to start polling.

In response, Lessig had dropped his original gimmicky promise to resign the Presidency after getting campaign finance reform through Congress. Based on that, it was expected that the DNC would recognize his campaign. In the meantime, more polling operations started putting Lessig in their polls, and he was polling over 1% -- which was the threshold that the DNC had clearly told Lessig's campaign was necessary to cross to get into the debates. In fact, Lessig's campaign had specifically asked and gotten confirmation on the rules:

The DNC's rules for candidate participation in their debates were pretty straightforward--or so we thought. In August, before the Lessig campaign began, DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, announced the standards for being included in the debates. As she described the rule, a candidate had to have 1 percent in three DNC sanctioned national polls, "in the six weeks prior to the debate."

Hitting 1 percent would not be easy, but it was possible. And indeed, at the end of August already one national polling firm, PPP, found Lessig at 1 percent nationally.

Yet, about this time, Lessig's campaign manager received a troubling email from the DNC, suggesting the debate participation standards were different. The email included a memo that stated that the three polls had to be "at least six weeks prior to the" debate--contradicting what Wasserman-Schultz had said that they could be "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To try to clear up the contradiction, I arranged a call with the DNC. On that call, the DNC political director confirmed to me the rule was as the Chair had stated it--three polls finding 1 percent "in the six weeks prior to the debate."

But... then the rules magically changed, despite the fact that it shows that the previous debate wouldn't have allowed some candidates if the DNC had followed the same rules:

And indeed, that is precisely the rule that was applied in the first debate. As CNN specified in a late September memo, to qualify a candidate had to poll at 1 percent in the "polls released between August 1, 2015 and October 10, 2015." The first debate was October 12.

So, we believed we had our guidelines. And as such, we worked hard--and spent our campaign's resources--to meet this clarified goal. It wasn't easy, as most of the national polls didn't even include Lessig's name. But then a week ago, a Monmouth poll of Democrats nationally found him at the qualifying percentage. Then an NBC poll found the same. HuffPost Pollster now lists three polls at 1%. Since the Monmouth poll, no poll that included Lessig's name found him with anything less than 1%.

The new rules, which seem solely designed to block Lessig out:

Late last week, the DNC again changed the rules for participation in the debates. Just at the point that it seemed Lessig was about to get in, the DNC has shut the door.

We were informed of this change in a phone call late last week that I had with the DNC political director. During that call, I was told that the DNC participation standard for the debates was for a candidate to be at one percent in three polls conducted, "six weeks prior to the debate"--not the clarified rule cited earlier by Wasserman-Shultz and the DNC political director that a candidate had to be at one percent in three polls conducted "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To further make the point, the political director confirmed the new rule in a follow-up email to me.

Under this new rule, Lessig obviously cannot qualify for the November 14 debate. He would have had to qualify four weeks ago! Under this new rule, all the work--and expense--of the past four weeks has been for naught. The door has been shut. By DNC mandate, Larry Lessig won't be participating in the Democratic Party debates.

This seems pretty fucked up. Yes, politics is a nasty business, but let's face it: Lessig had no chance to win, but could have had a real impact on the campaigns and what followed by participating in the debates. And he did everything by the rules... and still got fucked over for it.

If Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and the Democratic National Party wanted to do a job highlighting just how corrupt the process is, they just did a great job.

Filed Under: debates, debbie wasserman-schultz, democratic party, dnc, larry lessig, polls, presidential campaign


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2015 @ 5:43am

    Re:

    Well, they did let in Jim Webb, who's views are more of the typical chickenhawk neocon republican type (same as Hitlery, but even scarier, imagine Robert Kagan showing up as a contender for the R's). T

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