Screwing the pooch for Sanders
It’s like they’ve never voted before.
Among the many things that struck me about the presidential primaries is the sheer exuberance and ultimate bitter disdain amongst those voting for the first time in a Presidential election. Yes, Bernie Sanders supporters, I’m looking at you. If you aren’t a first-timer and have also exclaimed “The system is rigged!” simply because the results didn’t turn out the way you wanted, I’m also looking at you. If the system is rigged, then so is math. Hillary has more votes, (and therefore more delegates) than Bernie, even if you subtract the superdelegates.
OK, so you don’t understand how Democratic primaries work. I won’t fault anyone for that because it’s a pretty funky system. However, it’s unreasonable to arrive late to the party and then freak out because the party isn’t turning out the way you imagined. In other words — just because you were unaware of something doesn’t mean it’s rigged or unfair. You weren’t aware of the rules of the game before you put your piece on the game board, and now that the game isn’t going your way, you’re threatening to upend the board, send all the pieces flying into the air and storm out of the room. (Read: “I’m going to write in Bernie Sanders no matter what!” — Donald Trump thanks you for your support.)
Nonetheless, your naive outrage is understandable. But by channeling that outrage into voting third party or writing in Bernie come hell or high water, you’re locking down a Trump presidency and unfathomable disaster for our country (see “Ralph Nader, 2000 election”). In polite circles, this is called “cutting off your nose to spite your face”; in less polite circles, “screwing the pooch.”
Now, about those superdelegates. Yes, they seem biased and unfair, and on the surface, “rigged,” if you will. They do, in fact, give more weight to the votes of a handful of the Chosen Few; all votes matter, but some matter more than others.
No. It doesn’t seem one bit democratic. However, the DNC embraced the superdelegate system in 1982 following two landslide defeats in the prior elections: George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1980. The DNC didn’t want any more candidates that couldn’t win in a General Election, so they created a superdelegate safety net. The Republicans, which do not employ superdelegates, have ridiculed the Democrats about this ever since. And now they have Trump.
So, Republicans — how ridiculous are superdelegates now?
Nope, nobody’s laughing on the R side… just whimpering and dreading supporting Hillary Clinton the way toddlers dread eating broccoli: whine a lot, cry a little, gulp it down, gag some, and just get used to it.
Hmmm… what takes longer: for a toddler to learn to love broccoli or for a Republican to support Hillary rather than help propel an inexperienced, unpolished megalomaniac into the most powerful position in the country and possibly the world? Republicans, who among you can look your children and grandchildren in their innocent little eyes and then vote for Trump with a clear conscience? Like toddlers who eventually learn that broccoli isn’t so bad (even if SpaghettiOs are better), I suspect many Republicans will choose a loathed but sane and experienced candidate over a bombastic buffoon who doesn’t have the maturity or temperament to be trusted with our country’s future and security. They’ll hold their noses, eat the broccoli, and vote for Hillary — unlike the many sour Sanders supporters who have poor Poochie by the haunches.
The system isn’t rigged, Berners. The superdelegate system wasn’t created in 1982 as a prescient method of keeping Bernie Sanders out of the Oval Office. It’s like insurance. Everyone gripes about paying for it, and that one time you need it, you’re awash in relief and gratitude. Ironically, in this presidential primary, the party that needed superdelegates didn’t have them, and the party that did blocked the presidential path for a genuinely interesting and unusual candidate.
Although the superdelegate system didn’t work for Sanders, that doesn’t mean it’s rigged, nor does it mean that Hillary is evil. What it does mean is that the topic is worth discussing, and maybe superdelegates should ultimately be abandoned. The RNC will surely devote a lot of time and energy to that conversation before 2020, particularly if Trump gets walloped in November.
And get this, disenchanted Sanders supporters: If you think the superdelegate system is funky, wait’ll you get a load of the Electoral College this fall. A candidate can get the most votes by the numbers, but lose because of Electoral College votes, which are parceled out state by state. Kiss “every vote matters” goodbye. We can thank the Electoral College for the George W. Bush Administration, the Iraq War and the birth of ISIS. Gore had the most votes. Period. Let’s also revisit the validity of the Electoral College while we’re discussing superdelegates. Personally, I’d ditch both, but we’re currently stuck with the election system we have. It’s not rigged… it’s merely illogical and inane.
We should talk.
Besides the sketchy way votes are counted in this country, there’s another facet of US Government (do they teach even this anymore?) that Sanders supporters don’t seem to grasp: One person, no matter how talented, charismatic, brilliant and passionate, cannot change anything in Congress — even the President. We learned this lesson well as we watched the Republicans dedicate themselves to one singular goal for the last eight years: oppose Barack Obama no matter what. It’d be no different for Sanders and, in fact, much worse, as Sanders is even farther to the left than Obama.
If Sanders supporters truly want to achieve their goals, they must channel all that wonderful, furious energy into the House and Senate races. That’s where the real action is, and the only place where substantial change happens. Transmuting support for Sanders into trashing Hillary will not only not bring about change, it will take us from bad to worse. Don’t think of it as “voting for Hillary,” think of it as “voting against Trump” if you must. Maybe it is the lesser of two evils. But it’s a lot lesser.
Come on, now. Poochie doesn’t deserve that sort of abuse.