The un-Democratic Party

The Democratic Party of Nevada held its state convention at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas on May 14, marking the end of the complicated three-tier voting system which the state’s party uses in order to award delegates to the candidates. The convention, however, did not go without controversy and was instead mired in unrest and allegations of voter suppression.

Sanders supporters at the state convention claim that the party chair Roberta Lang tipped the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton by a number of different means. According to a petition started by Sanders’ delegate Angie Morelli, the Nevada State Democratic Party Executive Board (E-Board) had approved a set of rules dubbed “Roberta’s Rules” prior to the convention, which put her in charge of the party’s state convention and granted her the rights to “appoint every member of the oversight committees, including those who count the votes, decide which delegates are registered, and enforces the rules in every committee”. These rules led to some very suspicious dealings in the primary, such as the disenfranchised 64 of his pledged delegates that showed up to the convention only to be denied delegate status because they did not show up as registered Democrats on the roll sheets handled by Lang’s hand-picked staff. 8 of these delegates were eventually allowed in. 16 Clinton candidates were also denied delegate status.

When Bernie Sanders supporters at the convention heard about these rules that placed sole power in the hands of a staunch Clinton surrogate, they became livid, feeling that the Nevada Democratic party was treating them unfairly and doing everything in their power to stop them. They demanded that these rules be approved by quorum (2/3rds majority) before being implemented. Lange obliged and held a hasty vote, which was livestreamed by various Sanders delegates. Lang competed with the tired, agitated crowd to get enough order in the room to have a vote on the rules. When she managed to get the crowd to cooperate, an oral vote was cast with most of Hillary’s delegates supporting the proposed rules while the rest of the room exploded in a roar of “nays” when she asked who is opposed. Despite the unreliability of the oral vote and the thundering opposition, Lange proclaimed that the “yeas” had it and the motion passed.

Scuffles among the crowd prompted a heavy police presence with Las Vegas police officers lining the stage, though the convention saw no arrests.
Scuffles among the crowd prompted a heavy police presence with Las Vegas police officers lining the stage, though the convention saw no arrests.

Soon after the arrival of the police officers, another oral vote was held after hours of heated debate from both sides. This vote was to convene the convention, as the Paris Casino had basically told the Democratic party that they had over stayed their welcome and to get out. Again, this oral vote was muddled and messy, without a clear distinction as to who had voted in favor or against. Regardless, Lange banged her gavel down on the podium as if it was Thor’s hammer and promptly rushed off the stage, to which the Sanders delegates responded to with loud jeers and booing.

The mainstream media was eerily quiet on covering the Nevada State Democratic Convention when it first occurred, but when they did chose to pay it attention, they made sure to focus on the alleged violence and death threats perpetrated by Bernie Sanders supporters and completely ignore the questionable behavior exhibited by the state chair. Though Sanders was quick to denounce any instances of violence that did occur at the convention, both the media and Clinton supporters grilled him for his inability to rein in some of his rowdy supporters.

While they seemingly hold Sanders responsible for the actions of a few of his supporters, a different standard is set for Hillary Clinton and her supporters. Earlier in the morning of the Nevada convention, The Wire actor and Hillary Clinton surrogate Wendell Pierce was arrested and charged with battery after attacking a Bernie Sanders supporter and his girlfriend in Loews Hotel in Atlanta. The altercation arose from a political dispute between Pierce and the couple at the hotel’s bar and soon turned violent when Pierce pushed the man, grabbed his girlfriend’s hair, and proceeded to smack her head. Yet no media pundits demanded that Clinton herself apologize for Pierce’s actions and no one asked her to condemn his violence.

These events are nothing new, however. The Clinton campaign and the DNC as a whole have been constantly marginalizing or otherwise undermining Sanders and his supporters since he entered the race a year ago through a combination of misleading anti-Sanders rhetoric and unethical electioneering tactics to dilute their votes. With every close victory that was handed to Clinton came reports of voter fraud, suppression, or questionable methods used by state officials, such as the usage of older voting machines that are easy to hack  or providing provisional ballots to voters who deserve a regular ballots and afterwards, not counting those votes.

Many Sanders supporters have pointed to the discrepancies between exit polls and the actual final results as proof that all is not right in the Democratic party. Exit polls are private, anonymous polls typically conducted right after voting occurs and are often used as indicators of how the election went before all the votes are tallied up. According to political consultant Dick Morris, exit polls are even used by outside agencies “as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries”. They are typically considered accurate portrayals of how the electorate voted, so many pollsters believe that a significant difference between exit poll data and the actual vote is a potential sign of voter fraud.

Now many might brush off exit polling as simply being inaccurate, hence the discrepancy. However, exit pollsters have refined their technique for decades in order to work out any biases that might seem to give one candidate a nonexistent advantage over the other. Pollsters also make sure to include margins of error in their polls to account for minor discrepancies. Yet the discrepancies between exit polls and the final results on the Democratic side have consistently surpassed the margin of error and have consistently benefited Hillary Clinton by as much as nearly 8 percent. If these polls were truly inaccurate and garbage, their results should be all over the place instead of consistently favoring Hillary Clinton.

Table compiled by Theodore Soares and attained from richardcharnin.wordpress.com
Table compiled by Theodore Soares and attained from richardcharnin.wordpress.com

It also worth noting that the few discrepancies between exit polls and final results that have occurred on the Republican sides fall within the poll’s margin of error, despite a substantially larger field of candidates and a messier, more polarized primary race. In fact, exit polls on the Republican side been pretty spot-on at predicting the final results, rendering the argument that exit polls are unreliable moot.

Table courtesy of Spencer Gundert.
Table courtesy of Spencer Gundert. Gundert provides an excellent account on the discrepancies between exit polls and actual results that have occurred during the Democratic Primary race and how these are signs of potential voter fraud.

Clinton supporters have derided these allegations of voter fraud and suppression as nothing more than Sanders supporters being a bunch of whiny, sore losers. But had it been Hillary Clinton that was being negatively affected instead, they would certainly be whooping and hollering about how the system is rigged against their candidate. Since it’s not, they rather brush off these worrying allegations instead of documenting and investigating each and every one of these instances. This is a bit hypocritical coming from the same people who bash the Republican party for restricting voter access through voter ID laws and other political and economic obstacles.

These are the same supporters and surrogates that are urging Sanders to “see the writing on the wall”, concede the race to Clinton, and help rally the party (specifically, his supporters) behind the front-runner. They claim that by staying in, he is actually hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances at beating Donald Trump in November and is further contributing to the party’s growing divide. To them, Sanders is only giving more ammo to the Republican party. After having nearly self-destructed themselves, Republicans salivate at the idea of the Democratic party ripping itself to shreds.

Some Democrats even fear that this rift will negatively affect this year’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and that the party will see a repeat of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The convention was filled with unrest and controversy that arose when party elites tried to bypass the will of the people by appointing their own hand-picked candidate as the party’s nominee, despite the fact that he had not participated in any of the primaries. Upon hearing that the DNC had chosen then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey as the party’s candidate, thousands of protesters that backed anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy flooded the streets of Chicago and clashed with local, state, and federal troopers for an entire week. The convention and subsequent protests left the Democratic party divided and weak, causing them to lose that year’s election to Richard Nixon while also leading to a fundamental shift in the operations of the Democratic party.

These Democrats and Hillary supporters must keep in mind that Sanders is not the reason that Hillary Clinton is consistently seen as untrustworthy and dishonest. This is rather due to her own questionable actions, internal inconsistencies, and policy reversals she has had throughout her political career. If Clinton supporters truly believe that Sanders is hurting her chances by hammering home some of the various problems that plague Clinton, then they are sadly mistaken. These are true issues that separate Sanders from Clinton and consequently show Sanders as being the stronger, more progressive candidate among the two. Rather than provide actual responses to the legitimate gripes many Americans have against her, Clinton and her supporters have been quick to brush them off as nothing more than illegitimate and unfounded attempts to smear her and her husband. Thus by staying in the race, Sanders is forcing Clinton to address some of these big unanswered questions that she will undoubtedly face in the general election campaign.

Sanders refusal to quit is also helping pull the Democratic Party as a whole towards the progressive left away from the corporatist center. After being originally snubbed by the Democratic party, Sanders was recently awarded the ability to appoint five member to the fifteen-member Platform Drafting Committee which will basically lay out the Democratic party’s platform for the next four years. Six members will be appointed by Hillary Clinton while beleaguered DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Shcultz will appoint the remaining four members. Sanders nominated activist, modern philosopher, and prominent Democratic Socialist Dr. Cornel West, one of the few Democrat superdelegates supporting Sanders and one of only two Muslim Americans in Congress Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI) Dr. James J. Zogby, author, environmentalist, and activist Bill McKibben, and vice chair of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington State Deborah Parker. These nominations are a telling sign of how Bernie would shape his cabinet if he were to become president, showing great diversity, inclusivity, and focus on progressive ideals.

Assuming Clinton does become the nominee, Donald Trump will undoubtedly and relentlessly hound her over these various issues, including her ties to Wall Street and Big Pharma, her tenure as Secretary of State, her silencing of Bill Clinton’s alleged rape victims, her usage of a private, unsecured email server to handle classified state information, her support for job-killing trade agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP, and a litany of other controversial actions and circumstances tied to Hillary. Sanders has actually avoided discussing many of these topics in-depth and has even come to Hillary Clinton’s defense. Donald Trump, however, won’t be nearly as courteous. If one thought that the primary election season was ugly, they should just wait until they see how hideous the general election cycle will get.

The simple truth is that Bernie Sanders is best opportunity the Democratic party has at defeating Donald Trump in the general election, especially considering Hillary Clinton’s popularity among voters. The recently released Washington Post/ABC News national poll of likely voters pins Clinton and Trump as the single most unpopular candidates in the history the poll, with a whopping 57 percent of correspondents seeing both candidates as unfavorable. The same poll shows Sanders as the only candidate with net favorability ratings, with 49 percent of respondents viewing him as favorable.

Sanders also seems to do better against Trump in the general election than Hillary Clinton would. Based on RealClearPolitics poll average, Bernie Sanders, is shown to have a substantial 10-point-lead against Trump in a head-to-head match up while Hillary Clinton is shown to be in a statistical dead heat with the business magnate. Sanders also holds larger margins of victory over Trump than Hillary does in three crucial swing states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

This visualization by RealClearPolitics combines data from various polls to provide an average poll comparison over time between the two remaining Democratic candidates and Donald Trump.

general election match up trump & bernie
These visualization by RealClearPolitics combine data from various polls to provide an average poll comparison over time between the two remaining Democratic candidates and Donald Trump.

If Clinton was truly the progressive candidate that she claims to be, she would not be struggling to maintain a small lead over Trump, of all candidates; she should be demolishing him in the polls, it shouldn’t even be remotely close. But she’s not. She’s stumbling to even defeat a self-proclaimed socialist even with America’s underlying fear of socialism and other Marxism-derived ideologies. Despite over a decade of grooming for the position, despite having a gargantuan PR and fundraising machine, Clinton is having a difficult time sealing the Democratic party’s nomination. The fact that Hillary Clinton has so far failed to rally the party behind her and the fact that she is currently neck-and-neck with the modern-day incarnation of Benito Mussolini are signs of her weakness and unpopularity as a candidate, signs that voters are tired of political dynasties and insider politics.

Clinton’s main strength comes from the fact that she’s not Donald Trump and that she represents the “stability” of the status quo. By electing Hillary, we might not get the political and economic system we desperately need– that is, the one proposed by Bernie Sanders– but at least our entire country won’t collapse into an authoritarian anarcho-capitalist wasteland as it would under Trump. Sure, we might not have brought about the change we needed, but at least we averted disaster; now we can continue being oblivious to our country’s political system for another four (hopefully eight) years.

This is the fundamental problem with American politics: rather than supporting a candidate who truly represents one’s best interests at heart, Americans are often led to believe they only have two viable options and that they must choose between the lesser of the two evils. But that is simply not true. There are third parties in this country, most notably, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, who are often entirely dismissed by the general public. These third parties provide viable alternatives to the two candidates churned out by the main political parties.

Now before anyone says something along the lines of a vote for a third-party is a vote that is wasted, consider this: a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 47% of registered voters would support a theoretical third-party candidate if the general election came down to Hillary and Donald– a percentage higher than the two previous elections. The biggest hurdles that these third parties would need to overcome are getting on state ballots before election day and getting on the debate stage with the other two main candidates in order to make their message heard to the broader American public. So far, the Libertarian Party is on the ballot of 32 different states while the Green Party has ballot access in 20 states, with both parties seeking to largely expand this number before election day.

Though the process through which a third-party nominee could prevent the Republican or Democratic nominee from getting a majority or plurality of votes, and potentially even win the election, is one that would be quite difficult, it is a scenario that is entirely possible according to Josiah Paterson of The Federalist. Paterson argues that the money, media attention, and public desire for a third-party candidate are ripe for the taking: it’s just a matter of whether or not a third-party candidate will be able to successfully capitalize on the dissatisfaction and anger of the American voters.

As this election season drags on, one thing is becoming very clear: the lines that once differentiated and defined the Democratic and Republican parties are is some ways becoming blurred, with Democratic officials participating in the same dirty electioneering and campaigning tricks that they often accuse their opponents of. This goes to show that it is about high time that this unsustainable, unrepresentative two-party political system comes to an end. Rather than diluting or suppressing the voices of the American people, we must demand that our politicians hear our thoughts and concerns loud and clear. Instead of remaining complacent of this two-trick pony we have come to know and loathe as the United States political system, we must remind ourselves that we do, in fact, wield the power to bring these two establishments to their knees and radically change the infrastructure in which it operates. Regardless of who comes out on top in November, one thing is for certain– the political system of the United States will never be same.

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