PPF Blog

Ask Questions to Democratic Presidential Candidates

The first #DemDebate of 2015 was Oct. 13th, at 9pm ET on CNN. Ask your questions to the candidates on AskThem, the only non-profit question-and-answer platform for every U.S. elected official (& politician & media company & political pundit & more). Previously, see my post linking to Republican candidates on AskThem.

… for more questions, visit your state in our national map, or see a longer list of more public figures (including media companies and political celebrities) on AskThem.

Also, ask your questions to Prof. Larry Lessig on AskThem. (We’ll get the Twitter avatar issue addressed shortly over on AskThem, they’re not displaying correctly at the moment.)

Support this question to DNC Chair on AskThem.

Support this question to DNC Chair on AskThem.

Prof. Lawrence Lessig is not being allowed to debate, despite raising a million dollars from 10,000 donors and meeting the 1% threshold for inclusion in his first national poll (by Public Policy Polling – cit., Sept. Lessig press release).

Ask Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC why the Democratic Party won’t include Lessig’s name in polls, to determine if he meets the minimum 1% polling eligibility.

Sign-on to deliver our question to Rep. Wasserman Schultz: Will the DNC include Prof. Lessig’s name in national polls, allowing him to enter candidate debates?

Add your name to support our question to @TheDemocrats, and share it over social media: Will you use national polls that include Prof. Lessig as the criteria for the Presidential debates?

Quick note: the debate managers between CNN (and other networks) and the DNC are ostensibly taking public questions over social media using hashtags, but AskThem is different. Instead of a few crowdsourced “internet” questions, we’re open-source infrastructure for the idea that people in power should have continual, strong public conversation. We’re building the foundation for new tools for democratic trust & accountability, the kind of which we can’t yet imagine.

More specifically, we’re part of a growing coalition advocating for real open debates – at least half of questions from the public, as opposed to media-celeb moderators, and closer-to-real-time mechanisms to ensure that the public is sufficiently satisfied with the effort behind a response (if not necessarily its substance, of course) – towards not missing the opportunity to get good answers to good questions and follow-up during the crucial debate event itself!

Open tech for civic engagement can create this continual dialogue online, help our 501(c)3 non-profit work for a stronger representative democracy. Unlike closed commercial social media such as Facebook, we’re building open standards and open infrastructure for powerful public accountability and a more independent media. The promise of a true Internet public square.

Developers: we’re open-source to the core, and have a great new question-asking widget that could use some design time. See our public Javascript widget issue on GitHub, and dive in to see wider site enhancements that we seek to develop for the public benefit (we need funding support for open-source programming and management). See a sneak preview on our in-the-works AskThem Blog of where we’re headed with free, embeddable widgets here – we can create these for all the Presidential candidates, any issue, and the media figures behind the 2016 fray. More to come on this front.

Questions & feedback welcome, we’d love more media partnerships for our free question-asking tools, email david at ppolitics.org, @ppolitics on Twttr.

Disclosure: I’ve known Prof. Lessig professionally for almost a decade through copyright reform and greater money-in-politics advocacy via OpenCongress, but neither I nor PPF have any official connection to the Lessig campaign, and PPF as a c3 non-profit does not endorse candidates. This is a public-accountability question about a more open debate process that’s relevant to both major parties, but especially to the Democrats with tomorrow’s first event and a relatively thin public debate schedule.

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