Think You Live in a Democracy?

By | 6/14/2016 2 comments
How the Democrat and Republican parties circumvent democracy

In a tumultuous election year that’s been nothing short of astounding in its ability to shock and surprise, there is perhaps one aspect to it that’s more jaw-dropping than any other and that’s the blatant lack of democracy in our democratic system.

Due to the unusual nature of the nomination races on both sides of the political aisle, we’ve had a spotlight pointed directly on the political processes and machinations that ultimately select the candidates we get to choose from. As never before, we’ve been exposed to the nefarious wheeling and dealing that happens behind the scenes – and sometimes in plain sight – of the establishment parties, acting almost as a shadow election alongside the actual voting of the citizenry itself.

It’s been a veritable peep behind the wizard’s curtain – and it ain’t pretty.

At this point last year, not a soul could have predicted the spectacular rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders into the upper echelons of political hierarchy. The Republican and Democratic tastemakers certainly didn’t. They had their dynastic go-to candidates in Bush and Clinton ready and waiting to romp their way to the top and reenact a surname battle for the ages.

Sure there were a few (or in the case of the Republicans, a lot) of second and third tier candidates throwing their hats into the ring, but nothing that a few hundred million in super PAC cash couldn’t soon consign to also-ran status.    

But the electorate had other ideas.

Heartily sick of the politics-as-usual diet they’d been fed for decades, they were angry and they were primed and ready to express it at the ballot box. It was anger at an impotent congress; anger at being left behind in an economy that catered more to the wealthy than the average guy on the street; anger at all the corporate-sponsored political elites spouting their tired, empty promises of a better tomorrow. They wanted realness and honesty brought back into politics, and in Trump and Sanders they found it.

Suddenly finding themselves on the back foot by the unexpected and seemingly unstoppable momentum of these two hugely popular insurgent candidates, the establishment parties realized they had to act and act fast if they were to keep it in the family, as it were.
In Sanders case, however, the stitch-up had already been set in motion long before the race had even begun.

First introduced by the Democratic Party in 1982, the superdelegate system was specifically created to thwart the campaigns of insurgent candidates such as Sanders – or as they would undoubtedly prefer to spin it: to balance the will of the electorate with the “collective wisdom” of party elders.

As we’ve heard her boast on many occasions, Clinton did indeed win a majority of pledged delegates and a majority of the popular vote against Sanders. But what if she hadn’t? What is Sanders had – and which he came impressively close to doing – just nudged ahead of her on both counts? If he did so without reaching the required 2,383 pledged delegates required for the nomination (which Clinton failed to do), he’d have been reliant upon superdelegates to push him over the top, the vast majority of which had already backed Clinton.

But could they have changed their minds?

While possible, it was also highly improbable, and the reason for that is quite simple: money. The hard reality is that a great majority of those superdelegates depend upon their State Democratic Parties for funding and support for their re-election campaigns, and an enormous amount of that state party money was provided by Hillary Clinton through the “Hillary Victory Fund” – a joint fundraising account for the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Any politician considering ending their political support for Clinton would also be acutely aware of the financial consequences of making such a decision.

It was under this quid pro quo arrangement that Clinton managed to secure (buy) the backing – both publicly and privately – of over 60% of superdelegates a full six months before a single vote had been cast.

With the DNC in collusion with the Clinton campaign, Sanders and the rest of the Democratic field were hobbled from the outset.

The Republican Party, of course, doesn’t employ the same superdelegate system as the Democrats, but while their insurgent candidate did manage to clinch his party’s nomination, he very easily might not have, regardless of the will of the people.

Prior to the Indiana primary results, Senator Ted Cruz, trailing Donald Trump badly in the delegate count, was using every trick in the Republican Party rule book to upend the decision of the voting public to create a scenario in which Trump, despite being the overwhelming favorite of Republican voters, would nevertheless be denied the nomination.  

His campaign began running his own supporters as Trump delegates in states won by Trump, thus creating a built-in network of “sleeper” delegates who, after the first round of voting at the convention, would then be free to switch their vote to his side. In state after state – from Arizona to Georgia – the Cruz campaign worked stealthily with local party leaders to stuff each delegate contingent with their own people.

The plan was simple: fight hard in the remaining primaries to ensure Trump did not reach the 1,237 delegates needed to close the deal, thus creating a brokered convention in Cleveland. After the first round of balloting was complete – one which Trump would fall short of the votes needed – the next round would see a swath of Trump delegates defect to Cruz. As consecutive rounds of balloting took place and more delegates became unbound, a Cruz victory would be inevitable and the will of the people would have been artfully circumvented.

That didn’t happen, of course. Cruz suspended his campaign after his crippling loss in Indiana. But had things turned out differently there and in the other remaining states, we would once again have borne witness to a system in which the politerati, not the public, get to decide who wins.

The upshot:

Lincoln defined democracy as a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Unfortunately, the way things are progressing it might soon be more accurately described as a government of the elite, by the rich and powerful, for the influential.

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  1. Send A Message Loud & Clear!
    WE Will NOT Accept This Fraud & Corruption!

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    Let's Make Sure They Have ALL Seen This Many Times Before
    The Convention!

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  2. make your state's super delegates vote for sanders!!