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Delegates, Democrats and Democracy

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The United States is slowly lumbering towards the big show of its rather perverse version of democracy. Every four years, wealthy egomaniacs announce their candidacy for the presidency, and thus begins the long and torturous route to the White House. ‘Tortuous’, for each candidate, who must sell his or her soul to the highest bidder, change policy pronouncements depending on the audience, accept endorsements from individuals and organizations that a snake would be ashamed to associate with, and somehow manage to look him/herself in the mirror. The farce is ‘torturous’ for any informed individual (a decreasing lot, it seems, in the U.S.) who wants to make a rational decision, and vote for someone that is better described than simply ‘the lesser of two evils’.

One looks today at the Republican Party, and sees a circus clown performing his bumbling tricks for the pleasure and enjoyment of his racist, sexist, xenophobic and Islamophopic followers. And yet Donald Trump, former reality-television star and thrice-married billionaire is the current front-runner for the nomination.

But nipping at his heals like the snarling mad dog he seems to resemble, is none other than Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Despised by his senate colleagues, the powers-that-be in the GOP seem to be embracing him, however tenuously, in order to stem a potential electoral train wreck, which is the general expectation should Mr. Trump be the nominee. Not only would almost anyone defeat him, even the cold, calculating Hillary Clinton (more on her later), but Mr. Trump heading the ticket could easily deliver the Senate and House of Representatives back into the hands of the Democratic Party.

So let us look at the candidates of the oddly-named Democratic Party, and at the party itself. Nominating a presidential candidate isn’t quite the straightforward process one might expect: in a purer form of democracy, voters would elect delegates to represent their candidate at the nominating convention. For example, if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wins 70% of the vote in, let’s say, the state of Washington, it would be expected that 70% of the delegates from that state going to the convention would vote for him.

But no, that is not how ‘democracy’ works in the Democratic Party. The party has what it calls ‘superdelegates’, party bigwigs who can vote at the convention for whomsoever they choose. There is a reason for this strange rule; it was clearly stated by Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Said she: “Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists”.

Well, there you are. Kingmakers will still be kingmakers, after they have given the little people the illusion that they are participating in the democratic process. As early as October of 2015, the former secretary of state had locked up hundreds of these ‘superdelegates’. By November, before any primaries or caucuses had been held, it is estimated that she already had secured about 15% of the required delegates. Wasn’t there some president who once said something about “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” not perishing from the earth? Oh, right; Abraham Lincoln, but that was a long time ago. And look what happened to him, anyway.

As of this writing, Mrs. Clinton has 469 superdelegates pledged to her; Mr. Sanders, 31. Yet the total of elected delegates is much closer: Mrs. Clinton has 1,279, and Mr. Sanders, 1,027.

Those ‘grassroots activists’ of which Ms. Wasserman-Schultz is so disdainful are not taking this sitting down. Washington Congressman Rick Larsen, pledged to support Mrs. Clinton, sent out a ‘Happy Easter’ message to his constituents. Some, in reply, told him to enjoy what will be his last Easter in office. Mr. Larsen responded thusly to one of his constituents: “I am supporting Secretary Clinton regardless of how people characterize it. She will be our best foot forward this fall and be the best President of all the candidates.” So the people speak, but those with power don’t listen.

These superdelegates are not only thwarting the will of the people, they are supporting a candidate who represents the very worst of the 1%. Wealthy herself, she has refused to disclose what she told to her Goldman-Sachs audience, one that paid her $600,000 for her pearls of wisdom. One can only imagine how pleasing her words must have been to them, since they were worth such a large sum of money.

One of the staples of the Democratic Party platform is unqualified support for Israel, increasingly denounced throughout the world as a brutal apartheid regime, yet called by the U.S., ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. Once again, we see that the Democratic Party has either very little understanding of the term ‘democracy’, or very little regard for the intelligence of the voters.

Israel, with separate laws for Jewish-Israelis and non-Jewish-Israelis, with illegal occupation, extrajudicial executions of men, women and children, with numerous, continuing violations of international law, is a democracy in the eyes of the Democratic Party. And there are no sacrifices the U.S. won’t make for its Middle Eastern, ‘democratic’ counterpart. Two sentences from the 2012 platform say it all:

“President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to

Israel’s security. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years.”

Note the phrase, ‘despite budgetary constraints’. It is apparently acceptable to cut food stamps, leave Detroit to go bankrupt, watch the infrastructure deteriorate and see public school students’ accomplishments fall far behind their international peers, as long as Israel gets its billions from the U.S. taxpayer. One would think that U.S. tax dollars should go to U.S. citizens. But no, for the Democrats (and certainly the Republicans) it is better to go to Israel.

So, one might ask: ‘where is democracy in the Democratic Party?’. Certainly not in the nominating process, and, it appears, not in the party platform, which is the heart and soul of the party.

This is not to imply that, while deficient with the Democrats, democracy is the foundation and backbone of the Republican Party. This is hardly the case for the party that makes no bones about ruling the world through violence; the Democrats, wishing to accomplish the same thing, simply cast those words in more politically-correct terminology.

The tiresome primary session drags on. Mr. Sanders’ enthusiastic voters and volunteers naively believe that if only Mr. Sanders can keep winning primaries, he will be the Democratic nominee. How sweet and child-like! They have not learned yet that the performance is made up of actors playing their roles; it is almost interactive theatre, where the audience has some participation, but the conclusion is foregone before the curtain is raised.

And in the tragic-comedy of U.S. elections, it seems that each year becomes more desperate then the last. This writer wishes the voters luck in determining this year who is, in fact, the lesser of two evils. For his part, he will vote for a third-party candidate. Any Republican or Democrat who wins will be a disaster for the world, and he wants no part in installing such a resident in the White House.

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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