Ripping the scab off the ugly American election process induces fear and loathing in Las Vegas
Neil Young in his song “Looking for a Leader” says America is beautiful but she has an ugly side, and that ugly side was on display in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Democratic convention. The convention held Saturday to divvy up the delegates based on the February caucus results erupted into a violent fracas. From media headlines one would think both sides were equally culpable, which is not true.
In 2008 the primary rules were changed in order to deny Clinton the nomination after she won the popular vote. Florida and Michigan scheduled their primaries ahead of the Iowa caucus enraging party elite who had gamed the system to ensure Obama’s nomination. Clinton won the Florida and Michigan primaries but was dealt a blow by the rules committee when her delegates were awarded only a half of a vote at the convention.
The committee awarded Obama the uncommitted delegates as well as four delegates won by Clinton. What happened in Las Vegas at the Nevada convention was the result of the convoluted primary process concocted in 2008. Clinton has earned 3 million more votes than Sanders because Sanders wins were largely in caucus states where only a limited amount of people are able to participate.
Sanders alleges fraud and misconduct in Nevada
Sanders’ supporters had unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit against the state party weeks before the convention hoping to force a rules change. After a Las Vegas judge threw out the lawsuit Sander’s supporters attempted to pass petitions forcing a rules change. The rules as laid out state “all convention votes must be done by voice vote, and only the convention chair can declare the winner.”
At the convention, after a voice vote chairwoman Roberta Lange approved adoption of a preliminary credentials report showing more Clinton than Sanders delegates. Sanders supporters started screaming insults and obscenities at Lange and some rushed the dais. Videos from the event seemed to have louder "nays" than "yeas," but preliminary and final delegate counts showed Clinton supporters outnumbered Sanders supporters.
Sanders’ campaign claimed convention officials refused to present their petitions however the handful of petitions received did not bear the required signatures of 20 percent of conventioneers. Had they met the 20 percent requirement they still would have had to garner the support of two-thirds majority of conventioneers.
Sanders Supporters threaten DNC and Nevada State Chairs
The Sanders’ campaign has made allegations of campaign rigging against DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz since the Independent Senator decided to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Sanders and his campaign chair have accused the DNC Chairwoman of “tipping the scales” towards Clinton and undermining the Sanders campaign.
The day after the Nevada convention Chairwoman Lange received thousands of death threats and insults after her cellphone and personal contact information were leaked online. The FBI has joined an investigation by Las Vegas Police into death threats directed at top officials of the Nevada State Democratic Party.
Adding fuel to fire
Sanders himself has added fuel to the fire, issuing an angry statement saying "It is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness.” “That was not the case at the Nevada convention. At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place." But California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Clinton surrogate who was in attendance at the convention said Sanders supporters were out of control and she feared for her safety.
In America we need universal rules in all 50 states governing the primaries as well as a national primary election day. The elections must be removed from the control of the two parties or we will see continued fear and loathing not only in Las Vegas but across America.
By Patricia Baeten