When you evaluate a candidate’s capacity to win a general election, your evaluation must take into account the pre-conceived conditions of that race.
In 2016, the “pre-conceived condition” of success in the General Election was that $$$ would win the day, and that belief dictated the Primary Election results.
In California, for example, people with money, or those who lived in regions highly dependent on money, saw Hillary as more electable. Bernie Sanders had “crowd appeal, broke records right and left, and enjoyed a massive following,” but his ties to Wall Street and other big money players was tenuous or outright combative. How could he possibly win?
This graph illustrates that 2016 “money wins” attitude. Wealthy areas (central valley, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, the Capital, Los Angeles, Palm Springs and San Diego) voted more for the traditionally-funded candidate (Hillary) while rural parts of California – much like rural Vermont, where money matters less than community reputation – went to Bernie.
Of course, the Democratic Party gravitates toward monied regions, so their influence would have been stronger in those regions, but this doesn’t explain why Bernie and Hillary support differed almost entirely along economic lines.
As the year wore on, this “pre-conceived” belief that money would provide a deciding difference in the general election soothed anxiety & bolstered confidence throughout the summer, “…as Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s main super PAC, Priorities USA Action, raised more than $700 million, while Trump brought in $400 million.” Surely, Clinton was the “more popular” candidate? And if not, she had the bigger purse upon which to draw. Pre-conceived condition fulfilled = victory!
Until it didn’t. Up against Trump, any halfway decent Democratic Candidate ought to have carried the day, especially with MONEY. But, she didn’t. And there’s a reason.
Let’s stop a moment and look again at California; a state so large that it confers almost as many “elected delegates” as Super Tuesday states combined. Indeed, it was California that truly cinched the nomination for Hillary, even creating a strange, “in advance of the convention” push by Hillary Supporters demanding that Bernie step aside. The energy exerted, to make Hillary Clinton the Democratic Nominee was phenomenal to behold, and what does this tell us?
Bernie Sander’s record-breaking, explosive and grassroots energizing campaign was even more successful than it appears. In a fair primary, where the DNC itself was not strategizing against him & where the media offered equal coverage based upon candidate achievements, not insider bias and party protectionism…the American People would have nominated (and then elected) Bernie Sanders as POTUS.
But, that didn’t happen. Wasn’t allowed to happen. And so, we have an historical event from which we can learn much. Which brings me to the electoral college. If you are upset by the winner-take-all electoral college “system” (as it allowed a Presidential Candidate with slightly fewer overall votes to take up residence in the Oval Office), then California’s primary “system” should irk you as well. The point, after all, is to allow “the people” to select their representatives and political leaders. They serve us. We choose them. Rule of/by/for the people. Right?
Nope. Not in California. Consider that the Democratic Party of California managed to – somehow – convert a 9% lead in votes (by Hillary Clinton) into a 13% lead in “elected” delegates. Her supporters have been whining incessantly about the unfairness of the electoral college, but they had no problem taking more “elected” delegate spots than the votes supported. And then, to top it off, the Democratic Party brought in the “ace up their sleeve.” Superdelegates.
Of the 75 California superdelegates sent to Philadelphia, 55 cast their vote for Hillary Clinton, and none invited career suicide by supporting Bernie Sanders. When you add these 55 Super Ds (political establishment insiders) to the delegate “gap” in California, that already inflated 13% swells to an incredible 24.8% lead!
Let me recap. Less than 10% of voters preferred Hillary over Bernie, yet 25% of California’s delegates gave Hillary their support. Were the residents of California State accurately represented? No. Meaning, Hillary was the pick of the party, not the pick of the people. And this happened all over the country.
It’s like magical math, offered up by rich, powerful and over-confident establishment Dems who pat us on the head and say, “Trust us.”
And then, their pick…LOST.
Millions of human hours have been spent considering this event and wondering why. Many explanations and rabbit holes have been followed down, down, down…seeking to justify preferred answers. But, I have a simple one that I think is right. The Democratic Nominee was not the people’s choice.
In response to this, I say, “not again!” This century is different and we (Generation X and Millennials) are about to be in charge. Which is huge. Did you know that the average age of Democratic Party superdelegates in 2016 was 60 years old? These folks are living on world views and information they learned back in the 1960’s…or earlier, and when you consider that the theory of plate tectonics was being developed throughout the 1970s? The world is just changing too fast for us to trust our governmental decisions to folks who have reached retirement age. We, the younger generations, are responsible for turning this ship in a new direction. We must be the “better-makers.” So, bear with me a bit longer and consider this next graph.
The thing to notice here is the difference between the vote gap and the delegate gap, because the votes are real and the delegate count was openly manipulated by the Democratic Party via the superdelegates. The gap in delegates in 2016 was 977, with the vast majority of the 716 superdelegates making up that 20% gap. If we remove them from the equation (572 for Hillary, 42 for Bernie) the delegate vote gap drops to 10%. And guess what? That matches most closely with the gap in the popular vote (12.3%).
What would we have done, if we’d gathered together in Philly to face the hard truth? When comparing Hillary to Bernie, knowing they were neck in neck…which would we have decided was the best candidate for America? What options or decisions or compromises might have come from such an honest assessment? Maybe none, but everyone with a brain knew that Hillary’s “lead” had been artificially inflated and that is high school bullshit that lowers confidence, not the other way around.
As we approach America’s 2020 Presidential Election, we must actually do one more thing, in addition to re-evaluating the “pre-conceived conditions” of electoral success. We must also re-evaluate success, in and of itself.
It seems like such an easy question, but seriously. “What do we want?” The answer to this question drives what we do, on a daily basis, directly impacting our planet and our societies. There is no outside enemy, when it comes to ecological & political collapse. We are doing this to ourselves, and it’s all based upon the answer to that short yet oh-so-important question.
“What do we want?” is such a huge question that it’s clearly beyond the scope of this article. However, with regard to politics, let me offer a few, simpler questions:
Q: Is the Democratic Party “leadership” capable of nominating the best candidate, or do the people have a better sense of what the nation needs?
Q: Is it worth it, to support a candidate because he/she is willing to “do what’s necessary” to get things done? Meaning, if we believe we must sell out, then how can we expect less from our politicians?
Q: Or, have we reached a point in American History where the honest person is also the best candidate?
In this century, money is no longer the premier arbiter of political success, and this truth, this shifting sand in the political desert, is anathema to those who currently hold power. Ideas abound, but those served well by the current system are loath to change things. After all, when you have more money than you know what to do with…when your family has devoted generations to accumulating economic wealth…you want the world to revolve around money. In this way, what you have is worth something.
Speaking of money (dark, dirty, and otherwise), flash forward to the current moment and the Democratic Party’s desperate efforts to convince the American Public that Donald Trump is “nearly impossible” to defeat. He either has a massive amount of funding from nefarious conservatives, or those crazed, desperate Trump-supporters are a tidal wave waiting to wash us all out to sea. Perhaps he’s got Putin in his back pocket, ready to brainwash us all via Facebook! As Elizabeth Warren drums into us every chance she gets, “We’ve gotta go all out, in the General Election. Bring on the dark money and Super PACs! We need a huge economic war chest to beat this guy!”
I’ll tell you what I do, when someone tells me to be afraid. I smell manipulation. I gain bravery. I question the ulterior motives behind the message. And I do not trust the fear-mongerer.
Here’s an exercise we all should try at least once. Erase all the media messaging from your mind for a few moments and ask yourself, “Has there ever been an easier-to-defeat president in the history of our country?”
No. Trump is a nightmare for the Republican Party (or what remains of it’s ransacked carcass). They’re living purely on spin, a couple decades of media consolidation, the emotional state of people who can rightly sense looming economic and environmental collapse, and their best ally is the Leadership of the Democratic Party.
This may sound crazy, but consider that both parties exist upon the whims of a wealth class so far beyond our scope of imagination that we can barely identify them, and we’re certainly not rubbing shoulders at the grocery store. Our two dominant political parties pretend to be different from one another, arguing over social issues, but on the economic side of things, Neo-Lib policies are well-matched with the attitudes of traditional Republicans. It’s hard to see, unless you dig into the details, but when you do? A la Las Vegas, our government is rigged for the house to win, while we – the people – get played. Over and over and over again.
Like Dorothy (or Toto), many Americans are beginning to see behind the proverbial curtain. What we see makes most of us (all of us?) more than a little angry. And it should! But, now is not the time to fantasize about a “bloody revolution.” You cannot out-lie a pathological liar any more than you can out-gun the world’s largest arms dealer (the USA).
No. Our best option is a revolution in thought, morality and a deep sense of union with our fellow earthlings. Americans need (and want) a peaceful and honorable Political Revolution. The working class want to “work together” for a better future. We don’t want to fight, fight, fight! We want to succeed through intelligently designed “new ideas” and cooperation. We’re creators, not soldiers.
America is seeking a renewal of the social contract upon which our culture and reality are based. All of us, from prisoners to college students to new parents to retirees, need a re-drafting of the “rules and regs” which prevent sociopathic individuals and cannibalistic capitalism from exercising free rein. The world knows that we teeter upon the brink, and unless we succeed at reclaiming our sovereign right to self-determination and self-governance, America will become the destroyer & the destroyed.
To save the world & the mythic American goal of a government “of, by and for” the people, we need cooperation, organization, and equality. We need beautiful ideas, conviction, and stalwartness. We need imagination, curiosity and “self-governance” that truly reflects the will of the masses. Experts can inform and policy-makers can encourage, but our so-called “leaders” must learn to follow.
And we, in turn, must learn to lead. Our goal, in 2020 and beyond, must be to place consistently honest, reliable and respectful representatives into these highest roles of responsibility. It’s that simple. Integrity in, integrity out.
On a final note, I will share my personal belief that the “best candidate” will only (and always) be elected by a hopeful society that believes in itself. This year, and every year going forward…decide that you will never cower (or vote) out of fear. The time to pursue what you believe in, is now.