It is clear that the rig-the-vote wing of the Democratic Party, from Deborah Wasserman Schultz to the “liberal” commentators and regular pundits on MSNBC, PBS, and the most of the other mainstream media, is seriously weakening the party’s chances in November. Wasserman Schultz’s effort to brownout Bernie from the media through extremely limited debate exposure and her attempt, ultimately backfiring, to prevent his access to party voting data, together with the party establishment’s corrupt “super-delegates” system, are all part of a concerted attempt to kill his candidacy and the opportunity to bring about the most significant change in American politics since FDR. In doing so and in light of the party’s ownership by big capital, they have rendered the party name “Democrat” all but meaningless, as they stand against the tide of progressive domestic reforms that Bernie, and before him FDR and LBJ, represents.
Wall Street’s and the Democratic Party’s old guard preference, Hillary Clinton has high negative ratings both nationally as well as within the party itself. She rates 51% “unfavorable” nationally as of February 7, 2016, worse than the 32% negative opinion registered in September 2011 and the 45% registered a year ago. CBS News found last October that 14% of Democratic voters declared they wouldn’t vote for her, with another 27% expressing strong “reservations” about her, and those numbers are likely to increase with her nasty attacks on Sanders. In other words, her bid to seek the highest office in the land has only increased the public’s dislike for her over time. She registers particularly strong distaste among voters in key swing states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and Iowa, that the Democratic Party has to win secure a presidential victory. The key attribute attached to her that attracts so much negative attention is her lack of “honesty” and “trustworthiness.”
If she were to be the Democratic nominee, through the stealing of the nomination by loyalist super-delegates or by other means, the Republicans would launch a fury of attack ads reminding the public of her past lies and questionable official behavior. They will retell her fabrication about having to flee sniper fire at a Bosnian airport in 1996 as first lady, her shady Whitewater business deals while first lady in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, the remarkable claim that she and Bill were “dead broke” when they left the White House (their now net worth is $111 million), her use of a private email account for highly classified documents while secretary of state, presumably to discard those deemed embarrassing, her mishandling of the Benghazi assault on the US embassy, killing the ambassador, her Wall St. connections and huge speaker fees from financial houses, lies she told about her family tree and her own first name honoring the first man, together with his Sherpa guide, to scale Mt. Everest, unfortunately having been born 6 years before the feat, and other fibs, misdeeds, and issue flip-flops while in public office– enough to boost the Republican nominee and discourage Democrats from voting.
It is obvious that Bernie’s powerful popular showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, with record turnouts, is the result of a groundswell of new voters that he has brought into the party, similar to what Jeremy Corbyn has done for the Labour Party in Britain, a leader also suffering under intrigues within the ranks. The more that the Hillary campaign, with Bill and Chelsea in tow, attacks Bernie, the more she alienates his supporters, especially the younger new voters, the slimmer the chances of a Democratic presidential win. This in turn will likely result in a stronger grip over the congressional seats by the Republicans, as weak turnout for the Democrats will spell Republican victories in the House and Senate. Bernie’s win, on the other hand, is dependent on very strong turnouts by Democratic voters. There’s good reason to think his strong showing so far will continue into the upcoming primaries and caucuses – and into the November election. A big turnout will likely sweep many Democrats into office, including the swing states noted above, and rebalance both houses in the Democrats’ favor.
The conclusion is that if Hillary and the party establishment wish to win the Fall election, it is incumbent on them to honor the one person-one vote basis of selecting the party leadership. This is in the interest of the Democrats, but most of all in the interest of the American people, who clearly are clamoring for radical change. The only question is whether this hoped for change will be seized by a right wing or a left wing leader. Hillary’s candidacy tips the power balance to the right. Bernie is here to restore the New Deal/Great Society, save the party, and protect the legitimacy of the political system, as FDR did, from the rapacious aspirations of the right wing and the hawkish foreign policy orientation of Mrs. Clinton and her White House boss that enormously contributed to the creation of ISIS. It is time for the Democratic establishment to step aside, open the forum, stop the winning-by-any-means shenanigans, and let the people decide.
Gerald Sussman is a Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. He is the author of Branding Democracy: US Regime Change in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe.