Political Structures Prevent Democracy
April 14, 2016
Even for the post of U.S. President, the preferences of the American people have only a marginal, if any, impact upon the selection of the person to occupy that post.
In Colorado’s Republican race to win delegates to the Republican National Convention for selecting the Republican Presidential nominee, there was no primary, and there was no caucus. As the Republican magazine National Review headlined on April 11th, attempting to justify what a Republican wag had just headlined as “Cruz Celebrates Voterless Win”: “Donald Trump Laid a Colorado Goose Egg because He Was Disorganized and Amateurish.” Their argument (since they campaign for any Republican but Trump) was: he lost “because he was disorganized and amateurish” — not because he had been cheated by the Party-hierarchy.
National Review explained that, in the process which had been set up by the Colorado Republican Party (it’s set up by each individual state’s Republican Party, not by the National Republican Party), “delegates to the national convention would be selected at congressional-district conventions and the Republican’s state convention” [NR’s illiterate writer there meant “the Republicans’ state convention” and couldn’t distinguish between “Republican’s” and “Republicans’,” so used the wrong one], and this was done in order to “give Colorado’s delegates more flexibility,” not done in order to require delegates to reflect the Republican (or any other) electorate in Colorado (since NR doesn’t like even its own Party’s electorate).
This was the explanation that was provided by that magazine, which backs Cruz, and which has been campaigning ferociously against Trump. Their article was built upon, and extensively quoted, the justifications put forth by one particular Cruz delegate, who said, “The grassroots made the decision that Ted Cruz was the best candidate for us, and the grassroots made the decision to come out for Cruz and absolutely swept the table.” He called it “our caucus system.” Whatever it was, it shut out all rank-and-file Republican voters, and left everything to people like himself, who could afford to do this: “You have to put in the work, you have to put in the effort, and you have to do it months ahead of time.” In other words: only Republican Party activists in Colorado could participate in selecting the delegates who would participate in selecting the Republican nominee. No one else was allowed to. Their conception of the Colorado Republican Party is that it’s only the Party’s activists; and, if you’re not a Republican activist, you have no say. It’s as if to say: Only people who work in the government can have a say in how the government is to be run. It’s for insiders only — and, of course, indirectly it’s for whomever pays those insiders and so enables them to “put in the work” to participate.
National Public Radio had a different take on this matter. Steve Inskeep headlined there, “GOP Delegate: Trump Primary Wins ‘Absolutely Irrelevant’ At Convention.” He interviewed Curly Haughland, a member of the Republican National Committee who lives in North Dakota, and who said: “No matter what the popular belief might be, … there is no connection between primaries and the actual convention.” Well, that’s putting it rather bluntly. Haughland:
“cited the GOP’s convention Rules 37 and 38. He interprets these convoluted rules to mean that delegates may ‘vote their conscience.’ The rules do not explicitly say this. Rule 37 is a detailed explanation of the procedure for roll-call votes. However, Rule 38 does say that no delegate may be ‘bound’ by the ‘unit rule,’ meaning that delegates from a state can’t all be forced to vote the same way. … Another of Haughland’s points is indisputable: ‘When the convention convenes,’ he said, ‘the delegates adopt their own rules, which haven’t been adopted yet.’ There is a standard template for conventions, but delegates could tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”
In other words: the National Republican Committee says that all of the delegates to the Republican National Convention are allowed to “tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”
So: the delegates at that Convention won’t actually be representing anyone but themselves there — they are entirely free to push for anyone whom they personally want to win the Republican U.S. Presidential nomination. They’re not bound, not even on the first ballot. They might pretend to be, if they feel a need to put on a show that looks ‘democratic’, but any who don’t feel the need to make such a pretense, can do whatever they want on the first ballot, just like on any successive ballot. They are free; all of them are free. It’s only the electorate who aren’t — they’re not represented, at all.
What about on the Democratic side? Wyoming had held its Democratic Party caucuses August 9th, and there really werecaucuses. Two days later, CNN headlined “Wyoming Democratic Caucuses: Bernie Sanders Picks Up Another Win”, and reported: “Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming Democratic caucuses Saturday, providing his campaign with one more jolt of momentum before the race against Hillary Clinton heads east. Even so, he made no gains in Clinton’s delegate lead, as each earned seven delegates as a result. On April 12th a youtube was posted, “MSNBC Morning Host Admits The ‘Whole Voting System Is Rigged’ After Bernie Get’s Cheated!” Here the co-hosts had a conversation about the results: “Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by twelve points, 56 to 44, … He wins by twelve points.” The accompanying image showed the delegate-count, in this contest that Sanders had won by 56% to 44%: “18 total. Hillary Clinton 11, Bernie Sanders 7.” It wasn’t 7 to 7, after all. Though Sanders had outscored Clinton by 12%, it was worse than even-steven for him; he had actually lost by 11 delegates to 7 delegates. “This system is so rigged!” said one host. “There’s absolutely no reason any of those people voted,” said the other. A Hillary Clinton supporter was the ‘expert’ on the panel, and he said, “It’s not rigged. These are the rules.” He wasn’t given time to explain that fine point — or how “the rules” were necessarily “not rigged.” Also on April 12th, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich headlined (falsely), “Six Reasons Bernie Sanders Won Wyoming, But Still Tied in the Delegate Race”, and Zwillig failed to explain that word “Tied.” He opened: “How, many of you ask, could Bernie have won Wyoming 56 percent to Hillary’s 44 percent, but still split the delegates with her 50-50?” Then, he repeated that there had supposedly been “The 7-7 split,” but he also said “Wyoming has a total of 18 delegates” (which obviously isn’t the sum of 7+7) and he was also likewise incoherent, all the way through.
Maybe, “the rules” in the Wyoming Democratic Party are like that; but, whatever they are, is so convoluted, America’s news-media couldn’t explain what they were, much less were they able to argue persuasively that this was somehow ademocracy.
The only thing that’s clear is that the electoral system in the United States is so convoluted, so complex and so different from state to state and party to party, that whatever the intent of the writers of America’s Constitution might have been, the system as it is today, can be successfully gamed and won only by interests who can afford to spend whatever billions of dollars are necessary in order to win. It’s certainly anything but democratic.
Right now, there are only two Presidential candidates who are shown repeatedly, and almost consistently, to be preferred by the majority of the U.S. electorate, across all parties and no party: the Democrat Bernie Sanders is strongly preferred over the Republicans Trump and Cruz, and he is barely preferred over the Republican Kasich; and the Republican Kasich is strongly preferred over the Democrat Clinton. (Clinton loses strongly to Kasich and barely beats Cruz, while Trump is the weakest general-election candidate of all.)
The strongest general-election candidates are, clearly, Sanders in the Democratic Party, and Kasich in the Republican Party. In a democracy, those would be the candidates. Throughout the contest thus far, neither of these two has been favored likely to win his respective Party’s nomination, much less the Presidency.
Whatever America is, it isn’t a democracy — a one-person-one-vote majority-rule republic. In fact, the only scientific study that has ever been done of the U.S. political system, finds that it’s no “democracy” at all, but instead an “oligarchy,” a nation ruled by its aristocracy, its billionaires. It represents them, not the citizenry. That might not be the theory, but empirically it is the fact. An oligarchy is the commonest type of dictatorship, and it certainly is never a ‘benevolent dictatorship,’ even if that phrase is not an oxymoron in itself.
To sum up: the U.S. is ruled by and for the corrupters. Or, at least, this study showed that it has been like that since at least 1980.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.