Lever Time is back! In our reimagined and expanded weekly podcast series, we’ll be bringing you original reporting, offering more storytelling, and introducing new voices from around The Lever’s newsroom. And of course, we will continue The Lever’s mission of scrutinizing the influence of corporate and political power on society.

Listen to this episode on your podcast player of choice: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all others.

In this week’s inaugural episode, David Sirota and Senior Podcast Producer Arjun Singh look at Joe Biden’s reelection effort and unpack how the Democratic Party machine has blocked primary challenges to Biden — in some cases, going so far as keeping opponents’ names off ballots. They trace the history of past Democratic presidential primaries — and explore why the party has now become openly hostile to any kind of dissent.

If you’re already subscribed to Lever Time, you’ll find the episode in your podcast feed. Otherwise, you can hear the episode wherever you listen to podcasts. 

A transcript of this episode is available here.

For our premium subscribers, we’ll be releasing an exclusive bonus episode featuring a conversation with a top adviser to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Despite Joe Biden’s low approval rating, the Democratic Party machine worked hard to prevent the kind of primary that past unpopular presidents faced from candidates in their own party. 

In North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts, Democratic officials refused to put Biden’s two challengers — Rep. Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson — on election-day ballots. And in Florida, the state Democratic Party canceled their primary altogether. 

It’s a far cry from the long history of rough-and-tumble primaries within the Democratic Party, including notable primary challenges from the likes of Senators Robert and Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders. But in recent elections, the modern party leadership has used its dominant influence to suppress primaries, and even work against upstart candidates who challenge the party’s preferred candidates. 

This week on Lever Time, we examine the possible consequences of those actions, including their impact on Biden’s reelection chances. 

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW on your podcast player of choice: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all others.