How the Democratic party establishment works

Today is the day when the final six states (California, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, and New Mexico) have their primaries. The District of Columbia (not a state, for the benefit of non-US readers) has its primary next week and that will be the final primary. There are a total of 694 pledged delegates to be elected today. Of the 4,051 total delegates that are elected in the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton so far has 1,812 and Bernie Sanders 1,521, so Clinton needs just 214 today to put her over the top in terms of elected delegates.

But yesterday, the AP reported the big news that Clinton had already won the race and this was splashed all over the media. How can this be? It is because of the unelected so-called superdelegates that play such a dominant role in the Democratic party in enabling the party establishment to strongly influence the process. Apparently, the AP had spoken to enough unnamed superdelegates to come to the conclusion that she had won when the superdelegate votes are added to the mix.

Thus on the day just before an election, the media concludes that the election is pretty much unnecessary. As Glenn Greenwald says, this is a good demonstration of how the establishment operates.

Last night, Associated Press – on a day when nobody voted – surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “super-delegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that super-delegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identify of the decisive super-delegates who said this.

Although the Sanders campaign rejected the validity of AP’s declaration – on the ground that the super-delegates do not vote until the convention and he intends to try to persuade them to vote for him – most major media outlets followed the projection and declared Clinton the winner.

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary. The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identity the media organization – incredibly – conceals. The decisive edifice of super-delegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that their nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward and undemocratic sputter.

It would serve the party right if Sanders wins the California primary today and defies the conventional wisdom.


  1. says

    One can only hope. At his point it’s been made abundantly clear that the Democratic establishment will simply disregard Sanders. I don’t think Clinton will listen to him or adopt any of his main policies. Even if she did, she’s so lacking in credibility that a lot of people wouldn’t trust her on that.

    If Bernie Sanders definitively loses the nomination, and the Democratic party rejects his proposals, I think the best path forward would be to join the Green Party as Jill Stein’s VP. It could open up a chance to catch most of his supporters, disenfranchised independents, democrats who dislike Clinton and Republicans who dislike Clinton and Trump.

    Given the record-breaking unpopularity of the mainstream candidates, the Green party and the Libertarian party are getting an unprecedented amount of support. An rapid influx of voters could give them a majority in november.

    This would, of course, only be the better option if Sanders is unable to get a compromise out of the Democratic party, and I don’t think he will. They have been dismissive of his concerns, downright vicious when attacking him and (stupidly) his supporters, they are bought by their donors. Clinton has shown herself to be arrogant as well, expecting people to merely fall in line because “she’s winning”. I don’t see her lowering herself into “negotiating with the losers”, and I don’t see her making any sort of compromise to fight her corporate donors.

    In any case, should she get the presidency, I hope the liberals keep both eyes open. My biggest concern about her is that half of the people who would normally fight against interventionism, corporatism and war, will become lenient. They will pat themselves in the back because they “finally have a female president”, because they “Stopped Trump”. Upon hearing of her misdeeds they will yell “Misogyny! Right Wing Conspiracy!” and go back to sleep, leaving the ugliest side of her policies unchallenged.

  2. doublereed says

    I’m a bit hopeful. I’m certainly not in favor of a wacky third party contest that could give Trump the presidency.

    I think it’s become difficult to realistically ignore the progressive moment even if they want to. Especially if Debbie Wasserman Schultz is knocked out by Tim Canova. Sanders definitely seemed to have caught them off guard, and there are serious progressive democrats in the Senate and the House right now.

    Already Clinton and Obama have reversed their position on Social Security, finally talking about expanding it rather than going for the Grand Bargain. It shows a significant change in their position, once Sanders made it one of his key points. That shows to me that there may be hope in them paying attention to the progressives.

  3. says

    I think it would be smart of them to listen. But I no longer trust them to be smart. The Clinton Campaign and the DNC took aim directly at Sanders’ supporters, that’s probably the dumbest political move you can possibly make. Shit on the candidate if you want, shit on the supporters and you’re gonna have the time of your life trying to fix that burnt bridge.

  4. Trickster Goddess says


    It shows a significant change in their position, once Sanders made it one of his key points. That shows to me that there may be hope in them paying attention to the progressives.

    I remember years ago when the Green Party started getting some popularity in Canada, a reporter asked the leader if he was upset that the then-governing Liberals were stealing some of their ideas. He replied that he was actually happy, because their main goal wasn’t to get elected but to get their policies implemented.

    Even when progressives don’t win, their popularity can budge the establishment in the right direction, even if it’s just an unconscious survival instinct.

  5. hyphenman says

    My take this morning is that President Donald Trump will be sworn in next January and the Supreme Court will be packed with far-right justices for the next 40 years.

    This will happen because the Democratic National Committee is incapable of understanding that Donald Trump has brought a flame thrower to a knife fight.

    Bernie would have had a chance, a narrow chance, but a chance nonetheless, of defeating Trump in the fall. Hillary has no chance of doing so because while most of Hillary’s supporters are loyal Democrats and will support the party’s candidate regardless who wins the nomination; the same cannot be said for the majority of Bernie’s supporters who, if Hillary wins next month, I expect to: A.) Stay home in November; B.) Cast a vote for either Jill Stein or Bernie (as a write-in) or C.) Go completely rogue and vote for Trump.

    Jeff Hess
    Have Coffee Will Write

  6. sonofrojblake says

    I agree. Also, until now, Trump hasn’t even pointed his flamethrower in Clinton’s direction. Once it’s one-on-one, it’ll get a lot nastier. I expect the rigged delegate system will be a line of attack in itself, along with her health, the email server thing, and a host of others. We all know Trump’s “weaknesses”, because his Republican rivals tried attacking them all in the primaries, and we can see how that turned out for them. His shamelessness renders him practically attack-proof, so far at least. Can we credit Clinton’s team with being better at this stuff than Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and the rest?

    Meanwhile, while Trump kept dodging bullets, Sanders never sucker-punched Clinton. She’s not had a fight to get where she is, with superdelegates sewn up. For her, the fight begins now.

    Don’t get me wrong -- I hope she wins. I wish she would. But I predict she won’t.

  7. Nick Gotts says

    It could open up a chance to catch most of his supporters, disenfranchised independents, democrats who dislike Clinton and Republicans who dislike Clinton and Trump. -- A lurker from Mexico@1

    …and thus hand the Presidency to Trump. You’ve already made clear that’s what you want.

    The kerfuffle of last few days over Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, and the small but significant shift back to Clinton in match-up polls (all those taken this month show Clinton ahead), should have removed the scales from the eyes of those like hyphenman and sonofrojblake who view Trump as an invincible political supergenius -- but I’ll be surprised if they actually do. Trump could win in November (if Clinton is indicted, if the economy tanks, if a leftish third-party or independent campaign takes off, if there’s a major Islamist terror attack in October…) but the odds are that he won’t.

  8. says

    Nick Gotts
    Nice one, I have explained before just how much a Clinton presidency will screw my country over (She already screwed us without that kind of power), many others have spoken of how it would screw some of you over (Soldiers dying in pointless wars, sick people falling between the cracks of the ACA, underprivileged people thrown under the bus by a weather vane ally, keeping your politicians bought, etc.).

    You’ve made your case of how a Trump presidency will screw YOU over, that’s fair.

    The main reason I find a Green party coalition with Sanders appealing is because, should that win, we’d be in a situation where neither of us gets fucked by the powers that be.

    I’m looking for the one situation where both of us are benefitted. I’m such a douchebag, right?

  9. sonofrojblake says

    Trump could win in November (if Clinton is indicted, if the economy tanks, if a leftish third-party or independent campaign takes off, if there’s a major Islamist terror attack in October…)

    You’re betting against all of those things. Trump is betting on just one. And there’s just been a major Islamist attack in Orlando. Betting against another seems… perverse.

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