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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/23/16

The Ides of March Primaries

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Message Rob Hager

Superdelegates were introduced after the counterproductive 1980 Ted Kennedy primary challenge fiasco which helped elect Reagan. If originally well-intentioned, this reform now represents backsliding from the 1972 reforms. In an era of systemic political corruption they have become another opportunity for legalized bribery, buying of influence and systemic conflicts of interest. But the 1972 reforms otherwise remain largely in place as a platform on which to build a democratic primary process.

Further reform of the rules to finally convert at least one of two parties into a vehicle that can reliably nominate the people's choice in blue and purple states would be a valuable outcome of 2016, whether or not the Sanders campaign ultimately succeeds in mobilizing the significant majority that supports him to take the nomination.

Like the strategic failure with black women, effective challenge to the undemocratic rules of the DNC can be organized only by the campaign, not by the people supporting the campaign, nor even, without support from the campaign, by the Sanders delegates to the state and national Conventions. The Sanders campaign being waged on behalf of the people and using the people's money, needs to prepare a strategy to reform the DNC's rules so that Sanders' victories given him at the polls by the people can be honored by placing the people's choice, not the plutocrat's choice, on the ballot in November against the disintegrating Republican Party.

It is doubtful that the Sanders campaign could withstand strategic failure on both of these potentially fatal issues. In both cases the Sanders campaign has failed to apply the 2016 lesson of The Donald - you do not win by playing by the rigged rules of your opponent. To stop playing the same corrupt game, change the rules, Bernie. By working on the reform of DNC rules, the Sanders campaign can leave an important legacy however the 2016 nomination turns out.


Rob Hager is currently writing a three-part book assessing proposals for ending the political influence of special interest money. The current eLibrary draft of the first part, Hillary Clinton's Dark Money Disclosure "Pillar," is available online.

(An original version of this article was published at HuffPost)

(Article changed on March 24, 2016 at 12:19)

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Rob Hager is a public-interest litigator who filed a Supreme Court amicus brief n the 2012 Montana sequel to the Citizens United case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, and has worked as an international consultant on legal (more...)
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