by Veena Trehan
June 29, 2016
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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.
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.
Democracy is not being stifled to save the American people from “evil Republicans.” Rather the Clintons’ modus operandi is in effect: the mobilization of the powers with whom she is connected – in this case a complex web of government, election, establishment, party, multinational and media connections – to crush those who oppose her corporate and personal agenda. Instead of having them “cut it out,” she exploited democratic institutions to assure her coronation.
One possible solution is accountability. It is justified by the Democratic Party morphing “Animal Farm”-like, using the levers of power to shut down the machinery of democracy. And it is bolstered by everything from the sit-in in the House of Representatives over gun legislation, to Congress ignoring majority positions on guns, climate, trade, health care and other issues, to the thwarting of these positions on the platform. Whether Bernie Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee (and president) or not has almost inestimable influence on the direction of this country.
What to do? Voters could sign a pledge, saying they will only vote for their Democratic Senator or Congressman superdelegate if they vote for Bernie.
Dear Senator __,
I plan to decide who to vote for and whether to vote based on whether you support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the far better general election candidate, as the Democratic presidential nominee. He is better for the following reasons: (easily updated from here or elsewhere or simply excluded).
Or one could make it broader:
Dear Representative ___,
I plan to decide who to vote for and whether to vote for based on their avowal to the following priorities which are crucial to health, justice and sustainability in our nation and world.
– Your support of Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee as a superdelegate.
– A $15 federal minimum wage indexed to inflation.
– Strong consumer, worker, and labor protections.
– Commitment to a Medicare-for-all single payor health care system.
– Commitment to reject the TPP, including during the lame duck session.
– Support for steps in accordance with dramatic greenhouse gas reductions targeted at no more than a 2-degree maximum global rise, including:
– An immediate moratorium on fracking.
– Imposition of a carbon tax.
– Support for a financial transaction tax.
– Commitment to reproductive access. (or any priorities suggested in Bernie Sanders’s recent op-ed).
I expect you to champion these priorities consistently in speeches from the campaign trail, and in fundraisers. I expect you to advocate for them through legislation that you sponsor, vocally support, and vote for on the floor of the House.
Of course this could also be sent, in modified form, to all Democratic superdelegates with a stake in the party.
The idea is simple as any rating system, from those employed by NRA to NARAL. Certain demands, in this case by the electorate, would be spelled out for politicians they endorse. Should it be necessary? No. But neither should we live in a nation where our democracy has been pummeled by the Democrats. And short of simple measures to restore peace, justice, and sustainability, short of advancing a vision once again so clearly articulated by Sanders last Thursday, the alternative may well be chaos and more extreme right wing challenges now or in the near future.
Of course this doesn’t preclude a Sanders’ third party run or an option to vote Green Party. Indeed, it helps refocus and reenergize the splintered Democratic Party.
Because the quashing of our democratic process is undercovered by the mainstream media, I am also recapping the disintegration of democratic institutions during the primary.
First, let’s revisit the massive electoral failures during this Democratic primary. The context: the United States, who holds what “worst elections of any long-established democracy [47 countries]” by Harvard and the University of Sydney, Australia. Major electoral failures and fraud that favored Clinton were engineered, reviewed and/or ignored by her supporters. These span the improbable Iowa coin flips; Bill Clinton’s potential voter violation felony and Clinton’s strength in places without a paper trail in Massachusetts that may have prevented Sanders’ fifth Super Tuesday win; the Arizona closure of polling places, resultant long waits, discarding of provisional ballots, and flipped registrations; and the purge of 125,000 Brooklynites—just miles from Clinton’s office—in New York with more flipped registrations. Even Clinton endorser Mayor Bill de Blasio called for major election reforms and a reversal of the voter purge. Election Fraud Watch documents potential election fraud in far more thorough detail.
All of this culminated in the extensive manipulations and failures of the California elections. But there is broad evidence that numerous Democratic primaries and caucuses have been affected. As suggested in March, many elections may well have been stripped then flipped. A reported 220,000 provisional ballots from 18 or more states were dumped. Additionally, the results of elections with paper trails vs. those without paper trails strongly favored Clinton, according to the Bern Report, a site unaffiliated with the campaign who asked, “Have we witnessed an honest primary election? then answered: “[W]e found that when there are possibilities of electoral fraud, Secretary Clinton wins by a large margin, even when adjusting for possible alternative explanations.” Spencer Gundhert calls for “an investigation into electoral fraud favoring Hillary Clinton” looking at the hackability of voting machines, the high variances in Democratic — but not Republican — primary results vs. exit polls, and the strong bias of voter suppression toward Sanders’ supporters which included closed polling places, election fraud, purged votes and changed registrations. The reported votes Sanders received decreased, a seemingly impossible phenomenon. Thousands of votes are yet to be counted in many states.
Election fraud experts Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis are seeking exit poll data in their current racketeering lawsuit to challenge poll results and show vote flipping.
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE
The Democratic National Committee led by Clinton’s 2008 campaign co-chair and DNC chair, the strongly condemned Debbie Wasserman Schultz, biased the primary against Sanders as shown by the Guccifer memos and subsequent events.
It started with the skimpy and inconveniently-timed six debates, one quarter of what Clinton participated in during her 2008 primary. Clinton refused to debate Sanders before California, despite her 2008 statement, “You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.” Democratic insiders called a potential Sanders-Trump debate before California, “bullshit,” “peculiar” and “time to start winding down the primary,” in an attempt to silence Sanders.
Also early on, the DNC delayed Sanders’ access to the voter database at a crucial time, despite both campaigns receiving access to the other’s information. The DNC established Hillary’s PAC far earlier than usual, accepting checks of up to $353,400 and lobbying money. They was effectively laundered with 99 percent of state party donations sent back to the DNC. Wasserman Schultz’ interfered in Nevada also. The DNC then stacked convention leadership in favor of Clinton and rejected powerful labor and health care advocate National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, as the DNC sought to limit labor’s influence on the platform drafting committee. The statement of key Democratic values now excludes important Sanders’ priorities like a carbon tax, a national moratorium on fracking, rejection of the TPP, and single payor health care.
There have been widespread calls and petitions for Wasserman Schultz to step down and hopes she will lose her primary. Yet it’s clear neither would compensate for past acts, nor fix the party and the system going forward.
COLLUDING WITH THE MEDIA
The media has been the largest contributor to destroying democratic debate unfriendly to Clinton, which culminated in their refusal to discuss who is the better general election candidate before the superdelegates vote in Philadelphia.
Let’s start at the beginning. “[T]he greatest story [a journalist] could ever possibly ever cover” was Sanders’ rise according to media guru Robert McChesney. Yet it was reported by the corporate media “through the eyes of the Clinton campaign.” The extraordinarily well-known Democratic candidate — the former first lady, presidential candidate, and Secretary of State — saw her lead evaporate last year. People responded to Sanders’ visionary public ambition which addressed our daunting challenges, and was in line with courageous stances on housing integration, the Panama “Free Trade” agreement, the 1994 Crime Bill, the Iraq invasion, and the filibuster of Bush tax cut extension. Sanders rose in the polls like Donald Trump, but the media blacked out his packed stadiums and victory speeches. Clinton responded by moving her rhetoric and policies leftward to reflect Sanders’ progressive policies. Yet mainstream media networks generally ignored and occasionally belittled him, giving Clinton and Trump 23 times more coverage in 2015.
As early as October, the media reported superdelegates’ overwhelming support of Clinton. The unsubstantiated, premature and misleading attribution of 350-500 superdelegates likely influenced voters through either “the bandwagon effect” that leads people to support the expected winner, or led many not to vote out of a sense of futility. This despite DNC Spokesman Luis Miranda calling for—and doubling down—on the media not reporting superdelegate counts before the convention and the AP story which implied all previous tallies were illegitimate. Yet this reporting was the norm across the mainstream media all primary season.
Eventually, Secretary Clinton and her surrogates realized they could no longer ignore Sanders and many, with undisclosed ties, actively sought to manipulate the media. They relied on the media to promote her misleading statements, change the subject at her whim and highlight her successes. Her first debate used at least four carefully crafted deceptive answers. The compliant media, rather than fact-checking her or relying on focus groups and polling, declared her the “winner” which gave her crucial early momentum. Over time, Clinton and her supporters deceptively mischaracterized Bernie’s broad movement-based campaign as only being about the banks and his health care plan as causing millions to lose insurance. The list of manipulations would be too long to count. But consistently when the issue at hand didn’t favor her (regularly) or she or Bill Clinton were stumbling after being confronted with real people or their own records (frequently), they introduced a new talking point or a shallow policy. The corrupt media immediately changed their focus in full complicity with her anti-democratic strategy. The indication the election is over now is just an extreme version of her many attempts to silence discussion of Sanders’ sterling record, his progressive vision, or his better general election viability.
This media manipulation mattered even more because our public’s limited exposure to the societal realities and solutions implemented globally that are promoted by Bernie. Establishment institutions like colleges, left-leaning think tanks, large nonprofits, the DNC, much of the Democratic party, and arts institutions have failed to illuminate or advocate in a substantive way for progressive priorities, even as their funding from foreign governments, multinational corporations, and hedge fund and private equity managers have skyrocketed. Many of these institutions have strong connections with Clinton as a former colleague, speaker or campaign chair. By effectively declaring a process that should be decided at the Convention over, she aims to silence, largely successfully, this critical policy debate as well.
Additionally, Google and other search engines appeared to have manipulated their results to favor Clinton as this report shows (Google says it avoids offensive or disparaging phrase completions, which certainly works well for her.) Bing’s political index showed up as a top result when searching on candidates for many months, misleadingly avoiding critical issues like Wall Street reform, trade or war to make Sanders appear more out of touch with the American public.
She and/or her supporters even attacked the social media that sprung to life to promote Sanders’ campaign. Earlier Secretary Clinton championed internet freedom as the “cornerstone of the 21st century statecraft policy agenda.” Yet Hillary trolls took down most of Sanders’ Facebook pages. A pro-Clinton SuperPAC is spending $1 million to attack Sanders on social media. Popular news articles that seem like they should accept comments have done so sporadically or stopped them after a short time, even as they promote a highly flawed narrative from her campaign. Information from searches on important topics that did not favor her – like millennial or independent voting – have also been difficult to find.
The effort to silence, misreport or laugh off Sanders’ candidacy culminated in the unbelievable suppression of democracy. His incredibly—and probably unhelpfully—clean campaign needed to stop, according to establishment forces. Thus the most competitive, viable and important candidacy for our highest office in decades was left off the air. Clinton’s Bataan Death March to the nomination — now more than ever — employs the full power of the media and establishment to try to end Bernie’s campaign and the discussion of issues that could prevent Brexit-like results and the rise of the right wing.
Superdelegates are an institution that was created for a particular purpose. Love them or hate them, eliminate them now or never. But for now, it is their job to choose the more electable candidate. Or so we were told.
“For a full year — from early 2015 to early 2016 — Sanders supporters were told that superdelegates pick whoever they believe is the strongest general-election candidate,” Seth Abramson wrote in “Sanders’ Supporters Have Been Lied to And Here’s How.” He elaborated on it in “How to Explain the Sanders Campaign to an Idiot, Paul Krugman or a Clintonite in 8 Sentences” and most recently pointed out how Clinton herself had subscribed to such a theory in “Clinton in 2008 Opposed Early Call of Primary, Told Media ‘Nomination Will Be Up to the Superdelegates.’” Now she’s switched to claiming superdelegates should support the candidate with more popular votes — the opposite reason of why they were created. For them to simply ratify the popular vote would make no sense.
The two—the popular leader and the better general election candidate—could coincide but they do not this year, as Brexit highlights concerns about Clinton’s candidacy yet again. But now superdelegates’ mysterious preferences are not only being used to declare the winner, but there is no discussion in the media as to why they should select Clinton over Sanders. A merited discussion over issues, records, and superdelegate voting is being squashed with her knowledge and consent.
This is all the more urgent as Clinton significantly lags Sanders in polling against Trump, potentially awaits indictment, is viewed as “honest and trustworthy” by about 30% of American voters. She is viewed unfavorably by 60 percent of white women and 75 percent of white male voters. (This after a remarkably clean primary, before what is likely to be an incredible dirty one.) Nationally and globally, those who champion corporate-friendly incrementalism, promising to do little to reverse planetary destruction and inequality, are scorned.
Matt Damon recently spoke at MIT’s commencement about the Wall Street bankers that brought us the biggest “heist” in history, saying they may have gotten away with it but “when we pass you on the street and look you in the eye” “you don’t have our respect.” And so some of us will vote for her in November, should Sanders not win in July or embark on a third party run, after we evaluate the platform and factor in this season. Some of us won’t. Regardless, she and her supporters should know that we see the utter corruption and exploitation of our democratic process being employed to smash an urgent and critical Democratic candidacy. We see something. We are saying something.
Finally, should she win the primary but lose in November, one can choose those responsible: a) the media, who hyped Trump while he performed similarly to Sanders at stadiums and in polls, then put Clinton’s fake lock on the nomination, b) the gutless wonders of the superdelegates — with the political influence of 10,000 voters – who lack the courage or integrity to discuss their convictions openly or with their constituents, c) Clinton herself, a candidate of enormous flaws especially in 2016, who exploited or played along with jettisoning of our democracy, d) the DNC, who rigged the debate schedule and cycled massive donations, or, e) the Democratic Party establishment, closely linked to many electoral failures. Blaming Sanders’ voters for any outcome is beyond ridiculous as a fair primary season would likely have produced a Sanders’ win. But even if it would not have, we deserve to have processes and institutions perform their assigned role of promoting debate, and electoral integrity. “Only systems that serve the planet and serve the population of the planet can be allowed to survive, not ones that serve elites, be they political or corporate elites,” as Russell Brand once said in an interview.
Sanders provokes what author Tom Frank says is an “almost an allergic reaction,” among Democratic insiders and the liberal establishment for being a New Dealer, with his proposals out of President Franklin Roosevelt’s platform. Yet it inspires many of us who will continue fighting. We will peacefully take to the streets, we’ll organize, we’ll battle in the courts, and we’ll create hyperlocal to global models of socially and environmentally responsible institutions. But we can also consider our true superpower — accountability for priorities and actions of those we have elected and will consider in November.
We disagree with Clinton and her clan: silence – and silencing — is not the answer. Accountability to democracy ideals and progressive, humanist, and environmental priorities is. #StillSanders. #DemocracyMatters.