“Now the sun’s comin’ up, and I’m riding with Lady Luck. Freeway, cars and trucks. Stars beginning to fade. And I lead the parade.” – Tom Waits
We’re deep in the muck of another American Presidential political season. Ted Cruz covered ground and won in Iowa over Donald Trump, who is Not A Loser. Hillary peeled off a victory from a couple coin tosses and grasped onto front runner status while leaving the Hawkeye State.
Then in New Hampshire, Bernie handed the front runner a 22-point drubbing, and walked away with the same number of delegates as her. I feared this. This is a strain of realpolitik that may turn off a whole lot of key constituencies if the Democratic Party is not careful.
The easiest way to put it is this: Both parties have built into their primary systems certain safeguards in order to ensure those who’ve dedicated their lives to the two major parties keep the reins firmly in their grasps.
They have good reasons for this. The whims of democracy tend to be untrustworthy; nefarious activity is traditionally at play. What’s to stop a coordinated Republican infiltration of the Democratic regular ranks to upset the idiomatic apple cart, to install a Manchurian candidate, or at least a ringer to throw the whole game off?
It wasn’t so long ago Republicans were charging Democrats did just that with Donald Trump, though it was obvious this was a tone-deaf, screeching whine of steaming bovine excrement, but nevertheless, it was charged. It displays that Republicans have such schemes on the brain.
And it’s not unthinkable, at least to anyone vaguely familiar with American political history. Historically, The Parties can and will do everything in their power to ruffle the coiffure of one another. So what is the safeguard?
Unpledged delegates, or “superdelegates.” They are the control for the Democratic Party. Superdelegates are mostly elected officials and party activists unbeholden to the votes of the people, who may cast their convention ballots according to conscience, or, perhaps, something a skoch less noble than that.
They account for about one-fifth of the total vote of delegates at the convention, so there are enough to throw a close race one way or another but not enough to defeat a landslide. It makes sense. They can be forgiven the precaution. They are covering their asses, as they have right to do. The parties are, after all, private entities.
But there’s a risk. You see, as much as some may buck against it, the zeitgeist of this election is an expression of frustration; populist frustration from the left and the right alike and free-floating hostility toward any and all established power structures.
This is why Donald John Trump, Sr. and Rafael Edward Cruz are the common wisdom front runners in the Republican third-rate variety act they call their Presidential Nominating Process. But it’s also why Bernard Sanders is making many a butt clench with his burgeoning prospects.
Six years of obstinate Republican obstructionism toward a sometimes frustratingly conciliatory Democratic President have convinced progressives that it doesn’t matter who sits in the White House, Republicans will refuse to work with us, at any and all costs.
The people are fed up. They want real change. The people have an uncanny sense that they’ve been getting a soggy slice of the bread for far too long.
But here’s the rub, the only way the Democratic Party can miff up getting everyone to turn out for the eventual nominee, Bernie or Hillary, because the stakes are too high, is to manifest the sense that ulterior forces are at play, rigging the game.
Democrats cannot afford to give their voters the sense that they’re getting a raw deal—more soggy bread. That’s the exact motivation compelling young people to be counted in support of a New England Independent Democratic Socialist in the first place.
If the Republicans were to exert their controls to deny Donald John Trump the nomination regardless of the actual votes, they’d face the exact same blowback. This is delicate business.
I’m an early-born Millennial, just entering my fourth decade on Spaceship Earth beleaguered by a heavy political smack habit formed during a misspent youth.
I skated through my formative years in the salad days of the Bill Clinton Presidency, parading through my Midwest American middle-class neighborhood as the man himself, Halloween ‘96, rubber mask, youth-sized suit and all.
In all earnesty, I probably admired the Clinton Machine more then than ever since. And though I’ve had deep disagreements with Hillary Clinton over the intervening 20 years, I know on which side my soggy bread may be buttered. And if I’m forced to eat soggy bread, I prefer butter to none.
A Hillary Clinton Presidency would be a victory, and I love that, but it would continue the trend of moving by inches instead of feet, or more to the point, of only demanding to move by inches instead of feet. Nevertheless, inches are preferable to a Republican Presidency and active regression, a taking-away I could never abide, a bull-headed, wanton destruction of the best values our Republic can manifest.
So in November I will vote Democratic, come what may. But can I count on disaffected Millennial peers to follow suit when the chips are down? I would hope so, but I know one thing that would turn them off for certain: The impression that an established power structure robbed them of their voice. Please, Democratic Party, don’t let that happen.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.
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