Lessig, Lost

The U.S. Democratic party is currently acting pretty undemocratically.

On September 26, 2014, thousands of Hong Kongers began took to the streets of Central in the now-infamous “Umbrella Movement.” This moment was important because Hong Kongers — a unique culture the product of the British politeness and an Asian work ethic and sense of complacency (“the nail that sticks out must get hammered down”) do not rebel. They do not yell. They do not protest.


Yet, for 80 days or so, they did. They took to the streets. They sat in. They disobeyed. Hong Kongers, for the first time in a very long time, were angry. The culprit? The Chinese National People’s Congress.

Instead of returning the promise of a free election that was made during the handoff in 1997 (and codified in Basic Law, the fundamental legal document of post-British Hong Kong) the Chinese government told Hong Kong that they could have a “free election” — but only if Beijing could select the candidates. The problem is obvious: if the Chinese government can select the candidates, they can select candidates that are friendly to Beijing causes — thus, effectively, nullifying the entire purpose of a free election “in accordance with democratic procedures.”

That corruption is not unique to China. The very same problem is happening right now. In America. And — for once — it’s actually not the Republican Party’s fault.

The chair of the Democratic Nation Committee is Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Florida. Wasserman Schultz is ultimately responsible for, among many other things, welcoming candidates into the race, deciding how many debates to hold and the rules that decide who gets to participate in those debates. Her last role? Co-chair of Hilary Clinton’s last campaign for presidency.

The conflict of interest is obvious and yet is currently almost completely ignored. Lest one think that her loyalties do not affect her role, there is one serious candidate — who, while polls indicate is serious and is polling at the requisite levels — is being denied access to the debates that are at the core of our presidential nomination process.

His name is Lawrence Lessig. And though the DNC refuses to admit it, he is running for president as a Democrat.

In polls where his name is included he is polling high enough. That much is clear. But, according to DNC rules, those polls don’t count. Only certain polls count — and Lessig isn’t polling high enough on those polls — not because he is polling too low, but because his name is not even an option.

Why? We actually don’t know, but we suspect it is because Lessig has yet to be welcomed to the presidential race by his own party — the move that would force the official polls to change.

One might not believe in Lessig, but he is a candidate, and certainly not the craziest one running in this race. Whether you believe he stands a solid chance of becoming president or not, he absolutely does stand a solid chance of redirecting the debate to what is perhaps the most fundamental issue facing our nation today — campaign finance reform.

Lessig has the opportunity to call bullshit across both sides of the aisle — after all, nothing can be done in American politics without first fixing campaign finance — most Americans actually believe this, and yet most are resigned to the fact that it won’t happen. Lessig thinks he can change that.

But shifting that conversation would be bad for the Democratic Party. It would be bad for Clinton and Sanders. So the DNC — led by a Clinton advisor, aide, and personal friend is ignoring Lessig as much as they can. Just like the CCP, she’s already created the list of names from which we must choose — and she thinks she can call that democracy.

You may support Sanders. You may support Clinton. You may even be like me, and kind of think that Paul might be kind of OK and a nice change.

But we cannot resign ourselves to allowing the DNC to pick the winners before the race has been run. That kind of corruption is the kind of corruption that gets us angry when we see it happening to others — that is the kind of corruption we have started expensive and unnecessary wars over. That is the kind of corruption that forced us to dump tea into the Atlantic Ocean. That is the kind of corruption that forced millions of people on to streets around the world on many occasions.

For once, however, we do not have the high ground. For once, we are just as corrupt as the rest. Sadly, the Hong Konger’s lost their battle. Fortunately for us, we still have a chance — but only if we #LetLessigDebate.