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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/29/16

Clinton's Heist of Democracy and the Voter-Driven Superdelegate and Platform Solution

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Clinton's Heist of Democracy and the Voter-Driven Superdelegate and Platform Solution

Many of us have historically opposed the Republicans based on a fundamental antipathy to virtually all their policies. Their money in politics corroded their integrity, we said. And we thanked our lucky stars we were Democrats.

But beyond their positions this millennium, and far more egregious, was the Republicans utter lack of respect for democracy. Who, we asked ourselves, trashes voting rights, throws people off the voting rolls, and tampers with election outcomes? Who deprives young people of their votes? Who creates and exploits media that ignores the biggest issues, and scripts major events into narratives lacking perpetrators in order to promote popular ignorance and corporate-controlled candidates?

We now see that enemy. It is us: the Democratic Party.

Does Hillary look more threatened or threatening?
Does Hillary look more threatened or threatening?
(Image by billy3001)
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Truth has a liberal bias, they say. Sanders sounded truth to power -- articulating the realities of our wars, health care, climate, infrastructure and many other issues, in the service of equity and justice. Backed by a consistent record, he spoke of the creation of jobs and the transformative impact of elevating human and environmental rights.

He resonated with voters, especially young ones. Like in Brexit, younger voters who chose openness and diversity (although the narrative is more complicated than that) were overwhelmed by older voters whose ballots often reflected fear and media distortion. Here young voters chose the Vermont Senator seven times more in some states, and landed him a majority of voters under 45 in virtually every state. His call for "real change," beautifully reiterated on Thursday, calls for a revolution to prioritize our bodies, prospects, community and planet over corporate profit.

How to deal with these truths and his popularity in a democracy? Clearly we'd have a contest of ideas and records. Instead, Clinton and her supporters decided to do everything possible to silence Sanders, trampling the institutions of party and democracy. I (and so many others) documented Clinton's utter disregard of an open society model with equal participation in our government and accountability to our people.

A month after the primaries started, I wrote "Dear Hillary, You're Losing My Vote," which outlined her attempts to exploit the media to misrepresent her own and Sanders' records. This escalated as I documented in early June's Hillary's Exploitation of Democratic Institutions (Including Superdelegates) Exposed. This subversion of democracy was not against those "terrible, evil, must-be-beaten-at-all-costs Republicans." Instead it was used against the candidate with the most integrity, solid record, bold vision, and youth support in recent Democratic history. At least, we reassured ourselves, it could not possibly get worse.

Then she and the mainstream media-- who have given millions to the Clinton Foundation -- pulled off a heist unheard of in Democratic history. With the Democratic primary slated to go the Convention as neither candidate would otherwise amass sufficient pledged delegates, MSNBC announced they would call the election while California was voting and more than six weeks before the Convention. This despite DNC spokesman Luis Miranda's statement that superdelegates should not be counted before the Convention. Of course this plan was widely condemned. But instead of backing down, they moved the announcement up. AP did a survey of superdelegates and the Associated Press, NBC, and the New York Times announced on the eve of the California primary that she had enough delegates to clinch the nomination without specifying which superdelegates. This was obviously an attempt to depress voter turnout and distract from the expected mass disenfranchisement in the most populous state. Note well: the hounding of delegates to make this announcement could only have been done with the knowledge (if not urging) of Clinton insiders, given the majority of superdelegates allegedly favor her.

The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald described this result: "The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization -- incredibly -- conceals. " But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it's only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter."

A day later Clinton vocally claimed the nomination in what appeared to be an attempt to redirect media and popular focus from an unprecedented electoral failure, even in a season of escalating electoral fraud. How big was it? Clinton was called the winner before 2.5 million votes-- about 1/3 of the total -- were counted. Many believe Sanders won California.

As shown in the illuminating and depressing documentary of the California primary -- "Uncounted" by Rogue Kite Productions and The Young Turks -- the election was a "shitshow." Of course this was predictable after major problems in more than 10 states and expert Greg Palast's prediction the No Party Preference (independent) voters who favored Bernie by about 40 points would be denied ballots unless they used very specific language. But the perspective of poll workers (and numerous articles) shows the full scope of the election catastrophe. Poll workers -- some who were picked off the street -- were inadequately or inaccurately trained with a "fire hose" of information and often unable to effectively run or supervise the elections. (The processes were designed by the office of Sec. of State Alex Padilla, who stumped for Clinton.) Voting machines were dropped off without checking IDs and opened by workers: machines that were "unreliable, vulnerable and can be hacked," according to Bob Fitrakis. Who could vote? It wasn't clear. There were massive voter purges such that one worker was "actually relieved when we found someone's name on the roster," many people were switched out of the Democratic party, voters were removed from the rolls or marked as vote by mail but not sent a ballot, voters who showed up were sometimes told they voted by mail and that ballot counted instead, first-time voters were instructed to show official voter IDs, an insufficient numbers of ballots were printed, broken machines occurred, supplementary rosters arrived late, and crossover ballots were not counted at the polls. The massive voter disenfranchisement was truly shocking.

"I have always believed elections were well run, I did not expect there to be a problem among Democrats," said civil rights attorney Dwana Bain in "Uncounted." "I believe that Democrats were suppressing the votes of Democrats and I would have not believed that if I was not closely involved in this election." A couple of other poll workers said, "It can all sound like a conspiracy theory til you see it yourself" and "Voter suppression is real and it is happening here."

Shockingly, two days after these massive electoral failures, things got worse. President Barack Obama endorsed Clinton. That same day Sen. Elizabeth Warren also endorsed Clinton to the disgust of many followers, who had previously viewed her as progressive willing to take on Wall Street. The endorsements were questionable for a variety of reasons, but the timing was truly unjustifiable.

Currently, about one million ballots appear to have been discarded(think the hanging chads in Florida many times over.) And while the Secretary of State's office reports about 600,000 ballots haven't been counted, the numbers don't appear to add up. Final election results are to be reported to the Secretary of State on July 8, a date Clinton and the media pretend has no significance. Yet huge failures of the voting system have led many to claim Sanders won California, an assertion bolstered by a number of counties that have flipped to Sanders, reportedly including both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Yup, the profoundly problematic Democratic primaries culminated in the smashing of the illusion of American democracy.

Yet this election is extremely significant. The political gap between Sanders and Clinton is far wider than it was between the Democratic frontrunners in 2008. So too are the issues more urgent. Critical decisions must be made on deteriorating climate, labor, environmental, and health care realities. Yet Sanders' priorities are being torpedoed by the platform committee right now, often by the narrowest of margins, under the assumption he's the loser.

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Veena Trehan is a DC-based journalist and activist. She has written for NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg News, and local papers.
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