It’s official: Lawrence Lessig is dropping his long-shot bid for the presidency. The reason, in his own words, is that the Democrats won’t let him be involved in the debates. Check out the above video for his official statement.
Lessig says that “getting into the debates was the essential step” to pushing his single-issue agenda. But now the Dems have changed their debate rules to keep Lessig out. Under the original rules, a candidate had to poll at 1% in at least three major polls. Lesig was very close to meeting that prerequisite for next week’s debate. But now there’s a brand new caveat to that rule — they still need 1% in three polls, but the polls must be taken six weeks before the debate.
Says Lessig: “unless we can time travel there is no way I can qualify…The party won’t let me be a candidate.”
This is pretty absurd, and Lessig doesn’t seem pissed off enough. It’s pretty clear that the Democratic Party has adopted a particular debate rule with the intention of targeting Lessig’s campaign. Why else would they adopt this particular rule at this particular time? Lessig’s campaign is the obvious target.
Why target Lessig? Well, because he’s a one-issue candidate, and his issue is the one that no major politicians really wants to tackle. Lessig’s entire goal is to get money out of politics. And while Republicans are generally criticized for being controlled by large donors (and rightly so), Democrats do the same thing. The money might be coming from different places, but every major party candidate is bought and paid for.
The move to change the rules to keep Lessig out is symptomatic of a larger problem that is only getting worse — the parties run the debates, and they do it with their own interests in mind. The Republicans are doing their own shuffle right now, tailoring their debate rules to the liking of their leading candidates.
If you think this is only a problem in the primaries, think again. The Commission on Presidential Debates is run by party faithfuls (in fact, Hillary’s husband is on the board!). This is why we’ll never see a third-party candidate edge into the big show.