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<nettime> Lessig drops out of the presidential race
nettime's avid reader on Tue, 3 Nov 2015 13:07:41 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Lessig drops out of the presidential race

Lessig droped out of the presidential race, which we wanted to make
around one single issue, money in politics. Now he gave up. As it fits
a layer, the reason is a procedural one. 


The Democrats Have Now Chan
ged the Rules, And Forced Larry Lessig Out
Posted: 11/02/2015 12:12 pm EST Updated: 11/02/2015 12:59 pm EST

Steve Jarding

For the past six weeks, I've been the general consultant in Larry
Lessig's presidential campaign, working with him and a team of senior
and extraordinary campaigners to get him into the Democratic Party
debates and to help Americans see why I believe we need him as our
next president.

I did this in no small part because I believe, as does Lessig, that
big money is destroying our democracy. And like Lessig, I believe that
until we control big money in politics, our democracy will continue to
be severely compromised if not abdicated. So for the past six weeks,
we have worked hard to show the Democratic National Committee as well
as Democrats and all voters nationally that we were a serious campaign
with a serious candidate whose voice needed to be heard both to help
bolster our party and to save our democracy.

Toward that end, Larry's campaign raised over $1 million in a matter
of weeks and it even qualified for federal matching funds over this
same period of time - a very impressive feat. We then fleshed out the
campaign team with a wonderful mix of campaign veterans and
strategists with next generation experts on social media and digital
platforms. We also ran an unprecedented digital campaign reaching tens
of millions of voters while at the same time running significant
television advertising buys in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

All of this was designed in part to show the DNC that Larry deserved
to be included in their pivotal national presidential debates so that
all Democrats nationally could hear his critical arguments for taking
back our democracy from the big money interests.

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."

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%.

But apparently it did not matter. 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.

I have been a Democrat my entire life. I have proudly helped elect
many of the leaders of our party including Tom Daschle, Bob Kerrey,
Mark Warner, Jim Webb, and Tim Johnson to high office and I have
served nearly four years at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign
Committee as Communications Director and Senior Advisor. But I am sad
to say that I have never experienced this kind of game playing and
deception from party leaders in nearly 38 years of political activism.

As I said at the outset, big money is destroying our democracy. Larry
Lessig is a leader in the most important political reform movement
within our democracy today--his voice and his cause need to be heard.
If he were allowed into the Democratic Party debates, I believe
Americans would see him, as I do, as a leader who would be true to his
word and were Americans to elect him as President of the United
States, he would win back our democracy.

But his participation in the debates now will not happen. It is sad
and it is wrong for the Democratic National Committee to change their
rules, and block him from the debates just as he was on the cusp on
getting into them and giving America a chance to hear his critical
message. Without access to the debates, I cannot advise him to
continue as a candidate in the Democratic primary. That is our loss.

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