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Who’s Afraid of Larry Lessig?

James Kwak
Sep 28, 2015 · 2 min read

Larry Lessig is running for the Democratic presidential nomination on a single issue — political equality — and a promise to resign as soon as Congress passes a bill that would help level the electoral playing field, end partisan gerrymandering, make it easier for working people to vote, and reduce the power of money in politics. As I’ve said before, he has (and my money).

The funny thing is, the Democratic establishment seems intent on making Lessig’s point for him by . To participate in the first debate, candidates have to get at least 1% support in three national polls. Lessig so far has only been included in one qualifying poll — in which he got 1% — but not in any subsequent ones. It’s not entirely clear why, but one factor is that the Democratic National Committee has not officially welcomed him to the race — and the DNC certainly isn’t lifting a finger to help him.

Nor, for that matter, are Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Clinton and the DNC presumably don’t want anything that could upset her coronation. Sanders is probably afraid that Lessig could split the not-another-Clinton vote and the not-another-moderate-Republican vote, both of which are his at the moment. As far as I can tell, neither Clinton nor Sanders has mentioned Lessig, let alone said that he should be included in the national polls.

There’s a you can sign if you want Lessig to be allowed to qualify for the debates. But for now, it’s money that talks. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign just invited me to a fundraising event in Western Massachusetts.

So here’s my pledge:

I will not donate any money to any Democratic presidential nominee (or his or her “unaffiliated” Super PAC) in this election cycle, either in the primary or the general election, who does not publicly state that Larry Lessig should be given a fair chance at qualifying for the Democratic debates.

In addition, I will not donate any money to the DNC, the DCCC, the DSCC, or any of their “unaffiliated” Super PACS this election cycle unless the DNC treats Larry Lessig on an equal footing with Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, etc.

Because, at the end of the day, there are only . And Hillary Clinton being president is not one of them.


James Kwak is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law, a co-author of 13 Bankers and White House Burning, and a co-founder of Guidewire Software. Find more at , , , , or .

James Kwak

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Books: Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality, 13 Bankers, White House Burning. @UConnLaw, @southerncenter, @Guidewire_PandC.

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