It’s a Democracy Derby!
It’s once again time to take the temperature of the tempest, measure of the mess, weight of the winds in this chartbuster of a show called the American presidential election.
Much has happened since we last talked: Donald Trump confused 9/11 for 7/11, had multiple meltdowns about the process being “rigged”, the Republican Party godfathers have plotted his elimination, editorials have questioned the fate of the country (and the world) under a possible Trump presidency, while the candidate has openly offered to bribe delegates with “toys” and “trips” to the world’s best resorts.
You might legitimately ask why should UP get a bad name when the most advanced democracy has delegates for sale and sometimes tosses a coin to figure out who won a state primary?
But more fun and games are in store, especially if Trump falters and his chief rival Ted Cruz surges between now and the party convention in July. There could be floor fights, desperate bargains, and everything else that money can buy. Trump has already warned darkly about “riots” if he is denied the nomination. Much to the disgust of party elite, Trump swept New York where he is better known than apple pie. He is also expected to sweep Tuesday’s five states, adding to his 845 delegates to Cruz’s 559 in the race to win 1,237 delegates and the nomination.
On the other side of the arena, Hillary Clinton has marched ahead gladiator-style, crushing Bernie Sanders and collecting delegates even while losing some state primaries under the weird rules of the game. Uncle Sanders has also cried foul about the process. The New York wing of the Democratic Par- ty, for example, demanded that “independent” voters register six months before if they wanted to vote as Democrats in the primary. Who the Manhattan had the time?
Sanders didn’t get a big bite of the Big Apple since 40% of his support comes from “independents”. Unaware of the early deadline, his young brigades failed to get themselves on the rolls last October. The trendy hipster vote was thus lost in baby boomer rules.
To add to the pain, around 120,000 people were found ‘purged’ from voter lists in Brooklyn alone. National Public Radio used the term “widespread irregularities” to describe the shenanigans. Dare one suggest international election monitors? By now you know the Democratic Party wants Clinton just as much as the Republic Party doesn’t want Trump. So what’s going on in this pursuit of happiness? Simply put, the average Joe or Jane really don’t matter in the end but party workers, apparatchiks, elected officials who are called ‘super delegates’, and sundry power brokers do. They make the rules to ensure the establishment always rules.
The two parties have devised a thousand little ways to maintain the status quo and prevent subversion. Keeping outsiders out is important. Thus, the frustration of Trump and Sanders — they are both outsiders and popular among ‘the people’, yet failing in the game of Election Monopoly.
Clinton and husband Bill are the ultimate insiders. They have spent a lifetime working the party machine, cultivating the right people (including Wall Street), helping elect Democrats in key states and putting a network in place. Hillary is reaping the benefits.
The Clinton vs Sanders contest is more or less settled in her favour. The Democratic Socialist Republic of Bernie Sanders, although filled with thousands of idealistic young Americans, faltered against Clinton’s United States of Wall Street and Hollywood.
It must be said the US presidential election process is maddeningly complex. It requires candidates to put in place a virtual corporation and collect — to quote George Clooney — “obscene” amounts of money to stay in the game.
Each of the 50 states has its own twist on how to hold a primary or caucus, whether it would be closed or open, who can vote, when voters must register, and whether delegates are free agents or ‘pledged’ to a candidate. Republicans in Colorado can apportion delegates as they deem fit no matter how the ‘people’ vote.
The justification for the mind-numbing rules is the great fear America’s founding fathers had of mob rule. They put in checks and balances, which meant a few white men deciding in back rooms who should be the nominee. Things began to change in the 1970s when states began to hold primaries giving the people some voice.
But that voice got fainter with elected party officials and entrenched leaders gradually gaining more say in the process. They determine ‘suitability’ and ‘electability’ of a candidate before pledging support as ‘super delegates’. And, sorry, Bernie, they don’t feel the Bern nor hear the Trump-et.
Lowest common nominator