NEW YORK – Who are you going to believe: us, or your lying eyes? That’s the good word from Democratic Party powers that be and their transcribers in the corporate media, in response to the “allegations” by Bernie Sanders supporters that the nomination was stolen by Hillary Clinton. I used scare quotes around the word “allegations” because the truth is plain to see and undeniable by anyone with a microgram of honesty: Clinton cheated. If the rules had been followed, Sanders would be the nominee.
As with all things Clinton, of course, definitions matter. It depends on what the meaning of “cheat” is.
To most people, “cheating” means breaking the rules of a contest. By this standard definition, there’s no doubt that the Clinton campaign, its political allies and the Democratic National Committee cheated in favor of Clinton and against Sanders. They broke the law. They disenfranchised voters. They broke party rules. And they violated long-standing customs that are so widely accepted that they are essentially de facto rules of the Democratic Party and the American political system.
Sanders, on the other hand, ran a clean campaign.
Like many other voters, I subscribe to a broader definition of cheating in political elections. To me, the disgusting tactics George W. Bush used against John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 — rise to the level of cheating because they deny voters the facts that they need in order to make an educated decision in the voting booth. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that people are entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts, and outright lies about your opponent’s — and your own — positions and experience not only violate Moynihan’s dictum but constitute the essence of cheating in the political arena.
If Clinton manages to dodge both an Emailgate-related indictment and the fallout from her husband’s corrupt rendezvous with Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the next few weeks and formally secure the nomination, it will be a historic moment for identity politics. But it is imperative that no one watching the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party be fooled into believing that she did it on the up and up.
Clinton did not run a clean campaign, she cheated. Caucus after caucus, primary after primary, the Clinton team robbed Sanders of votes that were rightfully his. Here’s how. Parties run caucuses. States run primaries. The DNC is controlled by Clinton allies like Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Democratic governors are behind Clinton; state election officials report to them. These officials decide where to send voting booths, which votes get counted, which do not. You thought this was a democracy? Ha.
In the Iowa caucus, Sanders pulled off a surprising tie where he was expected to lose badly — Clinton won by just 0.2 percent. However, party officials never bothered to send vote counters to the most rural parts of the state, where Bernie was favored over Clinton. About 5 percent of Iowa caucus votes were never counted. At other caucus sites, Democratic officials loyal to Clinton purposefully undercounted Sanders caucusers. No doubt about it, Sanders should have won that one, as well as votes in other states that would have been affected by a big Sanders upset. Voters in pro-Sanders precincts in Arizona faced long lines because pro-Clinton officials didn’t provide enough voting booths. With lines of three hours or more still to go, the media called the state for Clinton.
New York State was arguably the most important contest of the primary season. Had Sanders defeated Clinton in her adopted home state where she had served 1 1/3 terms as senator, he would have dealt her campaign a blow from which she might never have recovered, along with a pile of delegates.
The Clinton team wasn’t taking any chances. Did they drop a line to Gov.Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed Clinton? Or did state elections officials act on their own initiative? Either way, Sanders’ stronghold, the borough of Brooklyn where he was born, was targeted for massive voter suppression. At least 125,000 New Yorkers were illegally purged from the rolls, had their votes lost/thrown away, or were not permitted to vote due to broken voting machines — all in Brooklyn. Even Mayor Bill de Blasio, who endorsed Clinton, was angry. “It has been reported to us from voters and voting rights monitors that the voting lists in Brooklyn contain numerous errors, including the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters from the voting lists,” De Blasio said. “The perception that numerous voters may have been disenfranchised undermines the integrity of the entire electoral process and must be fixed.”
The skullduggery continued through the last major primary, California. The night before, the Associated Press put its thumb on the scale, declaring Clinton the nominee in an epic act of voter suppression. Who knows how many Sanders voters decided to stay home once they heard it was all over?
Clinton was declared the winner by a substantial margin, but after it turned out that state election officials, who report to Gov. Jerry Brown, who endorsed Clinton, didn’t bother to count a whopping 2.5 million provisional ballots. According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, the nation’s leading expert on the manipulation of elections, Sanders actually should have won the state of California along with the majority of its delegates. (Disclosure: I work with Palast as a fellow of his Investigative Fund.)
One of the most disreputable moves of the campaign was AP’s poll of party superdelegates — party insiders who are allowed to vote for whoever they want, but inevitably support the establishment candidate. Truth is, the superdelegate system itself is official cheating. But the AP survey made a terrible system even more deadly to democracy. If they cared about free elections, the superdelegates wouldn’t have stated their loyalty in public. As it was, Sanders started the race miles behind the finish line. The only way he could have caught up would have been to have scored one landslide win after another. As it was, he came close to doing that. His surprising early momentum, big rallies and popularity with younger voters might have convinced superdelegates to back him, but after they told the AP they were for Clinton, it was too late for them to change their minds.
Then there is the DNC’s attempts to deny Sanders airtime in the form of widely seen debates against Clinton, her ridiculous claim that she supported Sanders’ $15-an-hour federal minimum wage at the same time that her website said that she didn’t, the Nevada Democratic convention in which Sanders supporters were denied seats by Clintonites in charge and then falsely accused of violence, and Clinton’s sleazy “I was for the TPP before I was against it, and now that the primaries are over, I’m for it again” gambit. That stuff isn’t the usual hardball. It’s cheating.
Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography of Bernie Sanders.
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