Philadelphia — Reading the papers and listening to radio reports about the Democratic primary race, which is reaching its climax Tuesday in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, I’m having a powerful sense of deja vu harking back to my years living and working as a journalist in China during the mid-1990s.
These news reports all feel like the regurgitation of a party line, with Associated Press not even waiting for June 7 to announce in a bold headline that “Clinton has Delegates to Win Democratic Nomination”. As the usually cautious news agency wrote late on June 6 in a report datelined Los Angeles and immediately picked up and aired uncritically by ABC’s, NBC.s and CNN’s national news desks:
Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination.
Clinton’s rise to presumptive nominee arrived nearly eight years to the day after she conceded her first White House campaign to Barack Obama. Back then, she famously noted her inability to ‘shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.’
…The former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.”
So there you have it. California, the largest state in the nation, with nine percent of the nation’s population and a demographic that closely mirrors the nation’s, could vote on Tuesday to reject the Democratic Party’s “presumptive” nominee, along with five other states, perhaps bringing Bernie Sanders to within less than 200 pledged delegate votes of Hillary Clinton’s total, but because of the 400 super delegates who said way back 10 months before the first primary vote was cast that they would back Clinton — all of them unelected, and many actually lobbyists who have their delegate positions because they bought them — and a hundred more, most of whom were bought by the Clinton campaign, Hillary Clinton according to this party-line corporate media, will still become the party’s nominee for president.
And this is supposed to be a democratic process in a democratic country!
What a sad joke.
Fortunately, millions of Americans aren’t buying it.
Hopefully, California will go the way of Michigan and prove to be a blow-out Sanders win. The latest California poll, released by USC Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times, shows Sanders actually ahead of Clinton for the first time, 44% to 43%. That’s a phenomenal achievement, going from a 50% deficit last fall to a lead in the polls just a day before the voting. And with a record number of new registrants since Jan. 1, most of them young, and with independents able to vote in California’s Democratic primary (if they ask for a special ballot that allows them to register as Democrats at the polls), it’s possible that the Sanders vote could turn out to be significantly higher than the polling even indicates, given that pollsters typically miss young voters who use cell phones, and also given that Sanders has been doing better and better among minority voters over the course of this long primary season.
At that point, of course, given Clinton’s abysmal performance in national and state-by-state polling against Donald Trump (who has become the Republican’s presumptive presidential nominee thanks to concessions by all his rivals), the Democratic superdelegates who had long ago pledged to back Clinton — the corrupt union leaders who backed her candidacy ignoring the wishes of their rank-and-file, the current and former Democratic elected officials, particularly members of Congress, who feared to buck Clinton because of worries about paying a price in terms of support for their own campaigns, or of loss of influence in Congress, the lobbyists seeking to curry favor with a candidate they had assumed would become the next president — can be expected to start worrying that they’ve been betting on a lame horse who could lose to Trump and the Republicans.
If that happens — and a small trickle of state party leaders who are superdelegates have just started saying they are unhitching themselves from Clinton and are backing Sanders — those votes that the party-line media claim have “clinched the nomination” for Clinton may abandon her, leaving her at the convention still shy of a majority with just her pledged delegates. (Example: Late Monday, as AP was declaring the Democratic presidential race over and Clinton the “winner,” DNC Committeewoman Pat Cotham, a Mecklenburg County, NC Commissioner and a North Carolina superdelegate, was announcing that she was switching her allegiance from Clinton to Sanders, saying the important thing was defeating Donald Trump, and, “The polls show that he has a better chance of beating him than Secretary Clinton does. That’s just how I came to it.”)
That kind of switching, which could accelerate if Sanders does well in California and elsewhere on Tuesday, would create the “contested delegation” in Philadelphia on July 25 that Sanders has been predicting. And then who knows what happens.
Speaking as a professional journalist with some 44 years of working as a reporter and editor, including many years in the corporate media, there is absolutely no real journalistic merit or justification for doing what AP, the networks, CNN and print publications like the New York Times and the LA Times have done in “calling” the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton on June 6. It is clearly not a factual report of any news value since even the Democratic National Committee has repeatedly stressed that the superdelegates are not bound by their promises of support and can change their minds until they actually cast votes at the convention. In fact, nothing of any news value happened Monday, and nothing will happen on June 7 that would change Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the nomination either, except if Sanders either wins or loses big, especially in California and either makes his chance of winning over superdelegates grow or causes it to diminish significantly. The only conceivable purpose in prematurely coronating Clinton as the Democratic nominee is in a reprehensible attempt to suppress and discourage Sanders voters from casting ballots in the June 7 primary. Whether that corrupt goal will be achieved remains to be seen at the end of the June 7 primaries.
Regardless of what happens Tuesday, I am urging all Sanders supports across the country to make plans now to head for Philadelphia and to join those already in the city and those who have already made plans to be here, to make it clear to the Democratic Party hacks that they either nominate Sanders, or they lose in November.
This is not a typical election, where the choice for Democratic primary voters is between a Tweedle Dum corporatist candidate and a Tweedle Dee corporatist candidate. This year, the contest has been between Hillary Clinton, a corrupt, money-grubbing, neoliberal pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-Israel candidate who has sucked up as much corporate money as she could grab, and Bernie Sanders, an honest guy with a life-time record of progressive political action, who calls for dialogue and diplomacy not war as a default national policy, an at least arms-length, neutral relationship with Israel and Palestine who has funded his campaign with no corporate money, just small donations from his supporters.
Fully half of Sanders’ backers are saying that they cannot and will not support Hillary Clinton if she wins the nomination — a sentiment which, if correct, would doom her chances of winning in November even if she otherwise had a chance of winning (which is debatable given how widely loathed she is among independent voters).
So contrary to the pathetically obvious party-line reports from the corporate media, Clinton’s nomination, at least until the results come in Tuesday evening from California and the other states holding their primaries, Hillary Clinton does not have the Democratic nomination sewn up. And even if she does win California, it’s not over.
After all we still don’t know what Sanders’ voters, or even Bernie Sanders himself, will do if Clinton does manage to get the nomination in July.
Will Sanders kneel down and humbly endorse a woman he has so effectively exposed as a corporate shill, and more recently as an influence peddler in her role as Secretary of State? It’s possible, I suppose, but increasingly hard to imagine. Significantly, when asked by those same party-line “reporters” of the corporate media to confirm that he will back Clinton, and that he would not accept an offer from Green Party activists (including that party’s presumptive presidential candidate Jill Stein) to run as the Green candidate for president in the general election, Sanders has demurred on several occasions, leaving that possibility open by implication.
How exciting an election season that would be!
As I have written earlier, Sanders running as a Green candidate would be an historic event. Unlike Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent and had to spend most of his time battling just to get his name on state ballots, and who could not get into any general election debates, Sanders as a Green candidate would have already run in 50 states’ primaries and is as recognized a candidate already as Clinton and Trump. Polling ahead of both Clinton and Trump, he would have to be allowed into the televised presidential debates, and his supporters, who have already provided close to $190 million in primary-season donations, could be expected to up the ante in a general election race.
Sanders as a Green could upend the whole election. Running against the two most unpopular major party candidates in US history, he might even win outright. Or as some electoral college experts have noted, he could win big enough to deny any of the three candidates a majority, and if he outpolled Clinton, could create a situation where Clinton’s electoral college delegates (who are free to vote for anyone they choose) could vote for Sanders to avoid having the election go to the Republican-majority House of Representatives.
There’s another reason for Sanders backers to make it to Philadelphia next month: to push for Sanders not to endorse Clinton if the gets the Democratic nomination, but instead to announce his plan to seek the Green Party’s nomination instead at their early August convention.
I’m hoping for one or the other: a California Sanders win and a swing of superdelegates from Clinton to Sanders, giving him the Democratic Party nomination, or a Sanders Green Party campaign against Clinton and Trump. At a minimum, it would be worth it to see the party-line corporate media journalist hacks choking on their words.