On Open Marriages and Closed Elections

Is Hillary Clinton, or someone on her behalf, cheating in this season’s Democratic primary?

That may depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is.

And also the meaning of the phrase “Democratic primary.”

Cheating is a word that simply is redefined in an open marriage. Hillary and Bill Clinton have had an open marriage for decades. Most of us don’t know the terms of the arrangement. Nor should we, I suppose. Don’t sleep with my friends or lovers might be one. Who knows? Palling around with Jeffrey Epstein the pedophile?

Fine.

But maybe let’s have a talk about how to position ourselves with respect to Elizabeth Warren.

Bernie is in on the game too. In Arizona and New York he and his inner circle have privately sent clear signals of support for efforts to challenge the integrity of primary results; publicly Sanders expresses outrage at Donald Trump’s nickname for Clinton: “Crooked Hillary.”

Sanders, you must remember, was as surprised as the good folks at FiveThirtyEight that his campaign was anything like competitive. The Senator from Vermont is an incrementalist of a different sort. He has real principles and means what he says when he says it (anyone carrying a torch for Sanders to run as an independent or with Jill Stein is setting themselves up for disappointment). But the way he’s gotten things done for his entire career as a federal politician involves loudly denouncing reactionary Democratic policies and appointments, then going along with them anyway in order to win some lesser prize.

Are the Democratic primaries democratic? (Hang on for a minute as we enter bizzaro-land; pay attention to the work various words and letters are doing.)

Sure the Democratic primaries are Democratic.

By definition.

If you were a Democrat way back on October 9th and have managed to defend your “D” registration against switching and purging all the way through to voting day, then you were or will be guaranteed the right to help select the next Democratic presidential nominee.

If not, well, you might be allowed to vote, depending on the state you live in. And your vote might even be counted, if enough people think it matters to count it.

Have a problem with all of this? Well, probably like Bernie you aren’t really a Democrat anyway. If you complain about the fact that closed primaries disenfranchise millions of voters state by state, you’re just another part of the sore losers cult that is helping make America ungovernable. The rules may be weird and wrong but Team Bernie and everyone else in the club knew what the rules were way back when.

The idea that independents and young people who have never registered “D” before should be welcomed with open arms into a democratic primary, err Democratic Primary, is cute and quaint. To the extent they can help the Democratic machinery, of course! GIVE US THAT LIST, MR. SANDERS! But there is a reason the public purse pays for elections to the leadership of a private club. If you don’t understand why that’s Democratic, then you probably don’t understand democracy.

There is the idea out there, and here I’ll just be confessional – at various parts of the day I can be captured by it, that if someone could produce enough evidence, if a real independent analysis could be agreed to by all, if a clear and convincing case could be made that Diebold machines are easily hackable and if exit poll patterns and hand-counted versus electronic ballot analysis and if there is enough proof of actually miscounted votes and surreptitiously switched registrations and if metadata analytics….

STOP!

Let’s talk reality here: thousands upon thousands of Democrats don’t think Hillary Clinton is very honest, but they voted for her anyway. Or at least ballots were cast for her on their behalf. Last night, for instance, 17% of the people in Pennsylvania voting Democrat who told exit pollsters that Clinton wasn’t honest and trustworthy voted for her anyway. In Georgia, 33% of Democratic voters who found Clinton untrustworthy voted for her anyway.

For party stalwarts, this is actually something to chuckle about privately whilst winking and nodding publicly.

From the outside, and if you aren’t a Clinton fan you are definitely on the outside, you may think you know what cheating means and why it is wrong. You may think you have to be careful before presenting evidence that something amiss is going down. But you are missing the larger Democratic point.

Hillary Clinton won’t get beat by cheating Republicans because, how to end this politely, she has spent years in close quarters with cheaters and knows how to get what she wants anyway.

Doug Johnson Hatlem writes on polling, elections data, and politics. For questions, comments, or to inquire about syndicating this weekly column for the 2020 cycle in your outlet, he can be contacted on Twitter @djjohnso (DMs open) or at djjohnso@yahoo.com (subject line #10at10 Election Column).

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