Putting The Donkey Out To Pasture
With Hillary Clinton set to become the nominee of the Democratic Party, a truly historic moment, we need to take time to reflect what it means long term.
With our primary season winding down, I’ve been full of mixed feelings. For most of my adult life I have been a Democrat. I’ve knocked doors, called phones, registered voters, worked the polls, sat in countless strategy meetings and given a big chunk of my adult life to helping promote the party I once called home. Sadly I don’t feel that anymore. No it’s not because Bernie lost. Instead it’s because of how the party has treated Bernie.
Now I’m never one to jump on the conspiracy theories and have been dismissing all the calls of “California was rigged.” It wasn’t. Hillary won the state fair and square, along with every other state. Well by fair and square, I mean in terms of actual vote tallying. In terms of the party’s treatment, well that’s a different story.
I’ve been against the super-delegate system for years. Back in 2009, when President Obama called on the elimination of super-delegates, I was thrilled. That thrill quickly turned to disappointment when the Democratic Party ignored the call of their main man. And yes, if super-delegates were magically eliminated today, it wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome of the race, but what if they weren’t there to begin with? What if we didn’t have a media constantly echoing “Bernie will never catch up”, when they are inflating the numbers with the anointed few known as super-delegates.
Back in the early 80’s party leaders wanted to have a way to control the outcome of a primary. The Hunt Commission was formed, lead by former Governor Jim Hunt. That commission determined that “We [the Party] must also give our convention more flexibility to respond to changing circumstances and, in cases where the voters’ mandate is less than clear, to make a reasoned choice.” Yet before a single vote was even cast and no voter mandate could even be imagined, and far before any circumstances could change, these super-delegates flocked to Clinton and the media instantly calculated them as solid voters.
There’s another side to the super-delegate madness that also makes my blood boil. The Democrats always talk about fairness and making every vote count, yet their own system basically says “well every vote is equal and counts, except for our chosen few. They are about 10,0000 of you”. That’s not a party trying to represent the people.
Being involved with the Democratic Party for so long I have held dear the values they preached. Making every vote count equally. The importance of debate. Encouraging all people, young and old to get involved with shaping the future of our nation through the simple process of voting. Yet this year has shown me that these three core principals are nothing but sales lines akin to time share. “Affordably own your own beach front property!” (Well ok not own, just give us money, share it with dozens of other people and get none of the benefits of actually owning it).
Think about what we saw this year. We had a Democratic-socialist Senator from one of the smallest states take the stage with very little name recognition and give the biggest name in our politics a run for the money. Bernie Sanders brought forth the ideals that used to spell out Democrat and got those “lazy kids” involved in the process. In my old Democratic Party this would have been a vastly celebrated victory. Instead it was viewed as a threat to the status-quo. Matt Taibbi sums it up nicely in his latest piece in Rolling Stone:
This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion.
The only thing I would add is that it’s not just editorialists drawing those conclusions, but the party leadership and even the presumptive nominee. Just last night Hillary Clinton admitted that her desire to bring in Bernie supporters is easily translated to “make them conform to my views” as she told Lester Holt that Bernie hasn’t moved her on her positions. Of course she hasn’t shifted. The only thing that can move her views is public opinion polling and donations.
And going back to the editorialists that Taibbi mentioned, I got to say they are even more troubling, especially coming from the blogosphere. Going forward there is a single certainty; if Hillary Clinton wants to become the next President of the United States she is going to need the support of Bernie supporters. No candidate can win the White House with their party alone. Even more so, they will not win with the support of only 54% of their party. They need the young people, and today the young people are strongly independent. That’s why when I see bloggers out there ranting about the “God Damned kids“, I feel like they are saying “stay the fuck out of our politics”. The fact of the matter is that these “God damned kids” could very well determine if we have a President Trump or President Clinton. It’s the epitome of what Taibbi was describing.
For me, someone a couple of decades out of being one of those kids, I now feel I am no longer a person with a party. The fact that this primary season has shown the true nature of the Democratic Party has lead me to break free of the Democrats. Our next primary I will be registering as an Independent. Honestly it’s an odd feeling given how much I have effort I have put into the Democratic Party over the years, but also a feeling of freedom. Since Clinton I have seen the Democratic Party move further right, and away from me, other progressives, liberals and those “God damned kids”. It started with another President Clinton and has kept going. The only salvation, albeit temporary, was the election of Barack Obama, but even the DNC has quickly started working to undo what he has done.
As of right now I will be supporting Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President, as she best represents me. I mean isn’t that the entire purpose of democracy? And while I do realize she has very little chance of winning in November, I keep in mind that change does take time. But if all these “God damned kids” also go to Stein, or even Gary Johnson, to the point that one of the candidates win a single state, or even comes in second, then the leading party of the future will be the party willing to change and listen to the next generation of voters and leaders. If neither party is willing to change, then it will lead us to finally breaking the strangle-hold of a two-party system that has squeezed the life and meaning out of democracy.
And if the support of these third party candidates means that Donald Trump becomes our next President, so be it. Yeah I will hate it and he will be horrible for our country, but he will also be a catalyst for Democrats to start listening to the future. Put aside party loyalty and cronyism and become a party of the people again. If they don’t, then they might as well keep their sad donkey out in the pasture.