The system is rigged. It always has been.
It was rigged in favor of landowners. And men. And white people. The number of ways our so-called “democracy” is anti-democratic is mind-numbing. And our fellow citizens’ minds have been purposely numbed by a corporate media and dumbed-down education system to believe our deeply flawed system is the envy of the world.
So, we reach Political Year 2016 (which began last year, of course). We still have Tuesday voting (rigged against workers). We have a notoriously irresponsible news media, rigged in favor of its greedy corporate owners. We have small, unrepresentative states that get to choose first for everyone else. We have closed primaries that prevent free democratic choice. We have caucuses that assure only the most highly motivated couple of percent take part.
We have Republicans – empowered by the courts – working assiduously to make voting more difficult and removing all remaining obstacles to racist disenfranchisement.
We have superdelegates, put in place by Democrats to after the McGovern debacle of 1972 to thwart the popular will if that popular will could threaten party victory and party elites’ power. And we have Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the DNC, who has done everything in her power to kill off threats to Hillary Clinton in service to party elites.
So, our broken system results in two front runners who are hated by most of the country. On the “bad” side is a fascist bigot, who – alas – will be backed by the majority of his party: the angry on the ground and the power-hungry running the show. On the “good” side is a family that has created scandal out of everything they’ve touched for a generation, because of their hubris and obsession with secrecy.
And there’s Bernie Sanders, a supposed saint. His policy stands seem saintly, indeed. But he forgot about the South and African Americans in planning his campaign. And his supporters scream and yell and throw things and threaten to make everyone suffer if they don’t magically get their way. Sanders himself seems increasingly distracted from the substance of his revolution that did not happen, as he refuses to condemn bad behavior on his side and whips up the frenzy of his mobs who think something has just been stolen from them.
A revolution would change the rules. There would be Saturday elections, with plenty of early voting opportunities, in multi-member districts, with ranked voting. Districts would be determined by natural and jurisdictional borders. The system would encourage and enable participation. The media would cover facts, expose fallacies, and discuss various points of view (even those I disagree with). Schools would make social studies and government studies about more than how great America is. No one would give a shit about Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders and his supporters knew what the rules were before they embarked on their noble cause. At best, they would launch the revolution to change them, but those rules were still in place and hardly secret. It is not like Lucy yanked away the football when Charlie Brown was already running towards it. No, that football was clearly not in place to be kicked this year, last year, four years ago. The rules were not suddenly changed to hurt Bernie Sanders.
A substantially greater number of participants in the Democratic primaries and caucuses this year have chosen Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. That includes an overwhelming majority of minority voters. Sanders is right that closed primaries hurt him. But his supporters seem to have no problem at all with the even less democratic caucuses where he did well.
And, it’s fine with me to hate the superdelegate system. But to pin your hopes on it at the last minute when that is your only possible route to the nomination? This is what Sanders & Supporters are doing now.
It doesn’t matter that Clinton is imploding or polling worse than Sanders against Trump. What matters is that Clinton won the most votes this year. Sanders didn’t. Even if Sanders wins in California, that result will not change. So the supposedly pure-democracy-loving Sanders campaign is now willing to disenfranchise everyone who chose Clinton, because they know better. How is this different than the behavior of party elites?
It isn’t and this is hypocrisy 101: claim to be be for the people. Except when you don’t like their decisions.
I’m not saying I like their decision. I voted for Sanders in Maryland. I have come to the point where I guess he’d do better in November than Clinton. But I am not willing to just toss aside others’ votes for what amounts to a guess. I’m also not against trying for a political revolution. I believe it would be our only long-term hope. But when you turn on your own principles to bring it about, you’ve gone too far for me.
I want Bernie Sanders to continue campaigning in California. I want his supporters to be at the table pushing hard in the convention rule-writing. And I want Sanders to give a prime-time speech at the convention at which he reminds us again how rigged this whole country is for the ultra-wealthy. I want him to keep demanding progressive change. I want his dignity to be intact for the many fights to come.
But the time has already come to stop clawing for one or two delegates here and there or seeking to have superdelegates overrule the voters’ will. And on June 8 (the day after the California primary), it will be time finally, completely, and with unity to whatever is necessary to stop fascist from becoming president of the United States.
©2016 Keith Berner