Monday, May 16, 2016

The Nevada Democratic Meltdown

This weekend at the Nevada Democratic convention there was a procedural meltdown caused by conflict between the management and Sanders supporters. This is the Washington Post view and, in The Omnivore's opinion, it's a pretty good take.

In essence:
  1. The rules are complicated. There's a multi-step process for awarding the spoils (the delegates) that happens after the caucus. Basically, there's a caucus winner (Hillary) and then a delegate awarding process (the Democratic Convention). At the convention there's another set of votes.
  2. Sanders supporters and Hillary supporters showed up. The Sanders supporters wanted to change the rules of order and objected to the person running the show, Roberta Lang (the party chairwoman).
  3. The votes happened--but were struck down by the person running the show. After all the voting was done, Hillary prevailed by about 30 people (out of like 3000). 
  4. A huge issue was that around 60 Sanders supporters were disqualified because they were not registered Democrats within the time provided. This was deemed fraudulent or at least unfair.
  5. Now we've got rage!

That isn't the only take. Here's a YouTube of someone who was there discussing / complaining bout the process (he's a Sanders' supporter).

What Really Happened?

Here's what really happened: At this point Sanders supporters are unwilling to concede defeat--despite being actually defeated: Hillary has won the majority of pledged delegates, the majority of votes, and has convinced the superdelegates that she is the candidate to back. By any reasonable metric she is winning.

This unpleasant truth is obscured by (a) a serious need to win on the part of many Sanders supporters and (b) lack of guidance / leadership by Sanders himself who knows better. The result is a self-serving highly unlikely path that winds through a somehow-contested convention, a California landslide, and unmasking of a great right-wing conspiracy (orchestrated by Hillary Clinton, of course--for extra irony).

In this scenario, Bernie catches up, the super-delegates flip over to him, and they pull a win from not the jaws--but the actual belly--of defeat.

Oh--and then Hillary gets busted by the FBI for treason (which makes this whole drama unnecessary--but why not have two competing salvation narratives?).

The way this expresses itself is as follows:

  1. An attempt to win battles that can be won by very small amounts of very devoted followers. This is identical to the Ron Paul approach wherein he knows that he can't win the hearts and minds of the party but boy can he read a rule-book.
  2. Allegations of fraud when these attempts don't work. Keep in mind that these caucuses and conventions are messy events to begin with. They are complicated, non-transparent, political minutia. Nevada Convention rules-gaming isn't "Inside Baseball." It's actually inside the actual baseball. Like: It's dark in there and full of rubber or something. At this level of complexity you don't need conspiracy to have everything look like a fuck-up. Everything looks like a fuck-up on a good day.
  3. The people who form Team Sanders are going to be a cross between true-believers and conspiracy theorists--of which, it turns out, there is a great deal of overlap. This leads to a variety of self-inflicted wounds and own-goals which are, of course, blamed on the dominant power-structure. Examples?

People Came Late

A bunch of Bernie Supporters came late, the parking lot was full--so they circled for an hour looking for other parking. This, apparently, did not happen to Hillary Supporters for some reason (conspiracy?). The hotel also did not announce that the parking lot was full--maybe also a cover up.

Sanders Supporters Were Not Always Registered Democrats

One might predict that when your candidate is not a Democrat (Sanders is Independent) and a huge part of your strategy is to win Independents (and that's also a big chunk of your argument) that actually having people in Sander's army be registered Democrats might be an issue. Predictably, it was.

Now, there are allegations of registration changing and lies about being unable to verify people's addresses--but there's also this:
There's ALWAYS Hope It's Fake. ALWAYS. Keep Telling Yourself No Sanders Backer Would Do This.

Maybe There Was Shenanigans

Of course we also can't discount the idea that there was something wrong with the way it went down--but consider this: if the margin of error was really 30 votes out of thousands, what kind of plan could the Democrats have put in place to ensure that would be enough? Also: how many people would need to be involved? If it's a lot: people would talk.

If it's one or two guys, it's not a Democratic Machine Conspiracy. Either way, this doesn't pan out.

The Real Problem

The real problem here is that Sanders has not conceded defeat--despite being beaten. He has a cadre of loyal, enthusiastic followers who are basically not going to stand down until he tells them to. Traditionally a candidate who wanted to have a future with the party (Clinton) would stand down at some point and start making amends to unify the party. Sanders should do this (and likely will--he doesn't appear to be a Ted Cruz-level asshole)--but the fact that he has not done it yet is troubling. 

Does he really believe in Election-Day Miracles? Is he going for the choke-hold of maximal leverage at the convention? Does he think he can muscle his way in to VP? The Omnivore isn't sure--but whatever the case, at this level of dysfunction, the bad behavior is on Sanders.

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