America’s Dad Bernard Sanders looks increasingly likely to secure at least a plurality (if not an outright majority) of pledged delegates and thus the nomination. The corporate establishment is thus forced into a delicate situation. In the last few days, some have ‘bent the knee’, which warrants some discussion. However, there are also plans in the works to have what is called a ‘brokered convention’. This is a strategy designed to use Superdelegates to effectively steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders. If he does not have a majority on the first nominating ballot at the convention, there is a second ballot. This is where the Superdelegates come in. In this piece, I want to discuss the establishment figures ‘bending the knee’ to Sanders, the issue of Superdelegates and the brokered convention and what such a brokered convention would mean for the future of the Democratic Party.
Many figures in the establishment have noticed that Sanders is where the power is. Like any other political invertebrate, they bow at the knee of power. Now, it is true that they damn with faint praise, but this is considerable progress. The establishment has been going through the five stages of grief around Bernie Sanders, and we now seem to be approaching the final stage: acceptance. But, as we will see, there is a catch.
Genuflecting at the Altar of Power, Part One: Nancy Pelosi for the Politicians
The news of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing ‘comfort’ with Sanders at the top of the ticket first broke on The Hill’s Rising with Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti. Pelosi had previously expressed opposition to Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and other parts of the Populist Left Agenda. Her political bona fides with the Left are thus rickety at best. In her most recent statement, she may not have explicitly endorsed Sanders, but her statement that ‘I think whoever our nominee is, we will enthusiastically embrace…’ speaks volumes. In particular, about the change in the establishment’s attitude toward Sanders. They now appear to be living their conviction of ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’. Their hostility to Trump is such that any Blue will do. Maybe. Below we will see how this looks to be a ruse to distract from the plans for a brokered convention.
Genuflecting at the Altar of Power, Part Two: Chris Matthews for the Media
As I discussed in my last piece, MSNBC actor Chris Matthews recently compared Sanders’ Nevada victory to the Nazi occupation of France. To his credit (how voluntary it was is unclear) Matthews did apologise to America’s Dad for his poor choice of historical analogy. This is yet another example of genuflecting at the altar of power. Anyone unsure of this should consider all of the other lies, smears and misrepresentations of Sanders in the media since 2016. This is the first time he received an actual apology. What could have changed from 2016 to now? Simple: Sanders is the centre of the dance, and if there is one thing the media thrives on, it is access.
Some journalists, because of their hostile coverage of Trump during the campaign, were denied access early in the administration. The media has no intention of allowing that to happen again. There is also the fact that MSNBC is losing the ratings war as well as the propaganda war. In my last piece I mentioned that woman who said she supported Sanders precisely because of MSNBC’s hostility to him. The network sees some sort of shift is needed (if only temporarily) and so they are playing the game. Also, as I said above about Mrs Pelosi, Matthews’ apology and promise to ‘elevate the political discourse’ could well be sleight of hand to distract from the plotted brokered convention. We turn to that now.
The Plot to Stop Dad, Part One: The Brokered Convention
The New York Times reports of a plot to use Superdelegates, along with the pledged delegates of other candidates, to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. At the recent debate, the candidates were all asked if the person with the most votes should be the nominee. All candidates, Bernie Sanders excluded, said that ‘the process’ should ‘play out’. The ‘process’ to which they refer is that of a multi-ballot system and potential Superdelegates. Superdelegates are quite literally ‘beyond normal delegates’. The term refers to party insiders who are ‘wild cards’ and can vote as they (or more likely the party leadership) pleases.
According to the rules set up as part of the Reform Commission, Superdelegates would only have a vote on the second ballot. Such a ballot would only take place if a majority was not achieved on the first ballot. It must be noted that this was a compromise position: Sanders never wanted Superdelegates at all. But he compromised to have them on the second ballot only. If he only has a plurality of delegates, a second ballot would become necessary, and this is where things get ropey. The Superdelegates, party insiders (read corporatists) remember, would vote for some corporate candidate. This would, in a very real sense, overrule the will of the voters.
What is amazing about this is the fact that the media has said some version of this throughout the primary. If you combine the votes of Mayor Pete, Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden, Bernie loses, they said. Ignore the fact that this is not how elections work and focus on the subtext. Combining the votes (and by extension the delegates) of the corporate candidates is, in the minds of the media, a legitimate strategy for defeating Sanders.
The Plot to Stop Dad, Part Two: Consequences for The Party
The Times piece comments that the Superdelegates acknowledged the risk of ‘intraparty damage’ if they tried to stop Sanders. It is almost as if they know that Superdelegates are by definition undemocratic. However, they also do not seem to care. The issue for the establishment is not, despite their seeming obsession with it, defeating Donald Trump. Rather, the issue for the establishment is maintaining their own power, wealth and control. They are also likely to be so naïve as to expect Sanders’ supporters to fall in line behind the chosen candidate.
This partially explains the notably tepid comments from Pelosi, Schumer and even Hillary Clinton. They have all said some version or another of ‘I will support the nominee’. People who are so openly hostile to one candidate are usually only willing to make such statements if they know that this candidate will not be the nominee. These comments also lay the foundation for the demand that Bernie supporters fall in line. We said we would support the nominee, why are you refusing to support the nominee? The sheer cynicism, manipulation and Machiavellian nature of this entire conjob is remarkable.
Finally, what would the consequences be for the Democratic Party were Sanders to be denied the nomination by Superdelegates? In short, chaos. Those who have supported Sanders and seen how the media has treated him would likely, in the words of Common Dreams, revolt. If the establishment uses an undemocratic process (Superdelegates) to overrule the will of the people, that would likely be the final straw for the Progressive wing of the party. Burn the f*cker down, they would likely yell – with some justification.
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