Medical Tuesday Blog

Don’t Blame Trump

May 21

Written by: Del Meyer
05/21/2017 2:05 PM 


BY KURT EICHENWALD | Newsweek | ON 5/3/16


In the 2016 U.S. presidential race, that Perónist disdain for the electorate is on display.

This is not a judgment on the merits of any candidate, political philosophy or policy position. Instead, it is about a principle that supposedly is a source of pride for Americans but that too many citizens hold in contempt: democracy.

In the past few decades, democracy has become seen as an impediment to those in power, where voters get in the way of the “correct” outcomes. The will of the electorate is treated with scorn, something to push aside for the greater goal of getting into office. Voter suppression, rules manipulation and dirty tricks intended to mislead certain constituents have become workaday realities of the American electoral system. The United States now ranks 20th in the world in the quality of its democracy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, behind Uruguay and down from 17th in 2007. Politicians and party leaders across the board seem to have the mindset attributed to the Argentine demagogue Juan Perón in the musical Evita, when his character sings, “It’s annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause, the inconvenience—having to get a majority.”

In the 2016 U.S. presidential race, that Perónist disdain for the electorate is on display with the outlandish attempts by some Republicans to stop Trump and by some Democrats to crown Sanders.

Both Sanders and Clinton have cried foul whenever the rules for primary contests didn’t work in their favor, regardless of how clearly the rules are stated or followed.

As Trump continues to sweep up millions of votes, Republican Party leaders are scrambling to find a way to ignore them. Because many candidates were in the race when it started, it is possible Trump won’t have enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican Convention. No doubt, if his last name was Bush or Rubio or Romney, this would be inconsequential—rather than cooking up ways for someone else to get the nod, party leaders would sweet-talk or arm-twist unpledged delegates to coalesce around the front-runner. But Republican politicians and party bosses fear that a Trump nomination could lead to the biggest electoral washout in history and so are scheming to overrule the riffraff.

Meanwhile, Sanders supporters and campaign strategists are publicly discussing ways to snatch the nomination away from Hillary Clinton, even if she wins the most votes and gets enough delegates to claim the nomination. This strategy has a probability of success tinier than the period at the end of this sentence. However, the basic idea is that, even if more voters cast their ballots for Clinton, Sanders could use the nomination rules to overrule them. The circumstances that raise this possibility are far more complicated than need be explained here, but it all comes down to the rules relating to pledged delegates, unpledged delegates and what are known as superdelegates, who are essentially Democratic officeholders and party leaders. The 712 superdelegates are not bound to vote for the candidate to whom they publicly declared their support . . .  While Sanders and his supporters previously railed against the superdelegate system as undemocratic, they are now suggesting they might try to flip those delegates to the Vermont senator’s side, even if he loses the popular vote.

The best advice to both sides? Knock it off. Yes, it can be disappointing to discover that the electorate doesn’t share your opinion. Yes, it is always possible to bend and stretch and manipulate rules based on the belief that you know better than voters what’s good for them. And yes, maybe some other candidate would be stronger in the general election than the one primary voters are selecting now.

Who cares? Nothing could be more destructive to both parties than overriding the expressed will of the electorate. Americans need to take a deep breath and start trusting democracy. If the majority of Americans who vote decide they want to be led by Trump or Cruz or Clinton or Sanders, so be it. If some in the electorate have temper tantrums and don’t cast a ballot this fall because their candidate didn’t win the most votes during the primary season, too bad—they will have chosen to let others decide the future of the country. Democracy is not complicated: Whoever gets the most votes is supposed to win. That’s it. . . .

Read the entire commentary at Newsweek . . .

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