“A System Rigged against Voters”

by Eric Zuesse

Even for the post of U.S. President, the preferences of the American people have only a marginal, if any, impact upon the selection of the person to occupy that post.
In Colorado’s Republican race to win delegates to the Republican National Convention for selecting the Republican Presidential nominee, there was no primary, and there was no caucus.  As the Republican magazine National Review headlined on April 11th, attempting to justify what a Republican wag had just headlined as “Cruz Celebrates Voterless Win”: “Donald Trump Laid a Colorado Goose Egg because He Was Disorganized and Amateurish.”  Their argument (since they campaign for any Republican but Trump) was: he lost “because he was disorganized and amateurish” — not because he had been cheated by the Party-hierarchy.
National Review explained that in the process which had been set up by the Colorado Republican Party (it’s set up by each individual state’s Republican Party, not by the National Republican Party), “delegates to the national convention would be selected at congressional-district conventions and the Republican’s [sic] state convention”, and this was done in order to “give Colorado’s delegates more flexibility,” not done in order to require delegates to reflect the Republican (or any other) electorate in Colorado (since NR doesn’t like even its own Party’s electorate).
This was the explanation that was provided by that magazine, which backs Cruz, and which has been campaigning ferociously against Trump.  Their article was built upon, and extensively quoted, the justifications put forth by one particular Cruz delegate, who said, “The grassroots made the decision that Ted Cruz was the best candidate for us, and the grassroots made the decision to come out for Cruz and absolutely swept the table.”  He called it “our caucus system.”  Whatever it was, it shut out all rank-and-file Republican voters, and left everything to people like himself, who could afford to do this: “You have to put in the work, you have to put in the effort, and you have to do it months ahead of time.” In other words: only Republican Party activists in Colorado could participate in selecting the delegates who would participate in selecting the Republican nominee. No one else was allowed to.  Their conception of the Colorado Republican Party is that it’s only the Party’s activists; and, if you’re not a Republican activist, you have no say.  It’s as if to say: Only people who work in the government can have a say in how the government is to be run.  It’s for insiders only — and, of course, indirectly it’s for whomever pays those insiders and so enables them to “put in the work” to participate.
National Public Radio had a different take on this matter.  Steve Inskeep headlined there “GOP Delegate: Trump Primary Wins ‘Absolutely Irrelevant’ At Convention.”  He interviewed Curly Haughland, a member of the Republican National Committee who lives in North Dakota, and who said: “No matter what the popular belief might be, … there is no connection between primaries and the actual convention.”  Well, that’s putting it rather bluntly.  Haughland also
“cited the GOP’s convention Rules 37 and 38. He interprets these convoluted rules to mean that delegates may ‘vote their conscience.’ The rules do not explicitly say this. Rule 37 is a detailed explanation of the procedure for roll-call votes. However, Rule 38 does say that no delegate may be ‘bound’ by the ‘unit rule,’ meaning that delegates from a state can’t all be forced to vote the same way. … Another of Haughland’s points is indisputable: ‘When the convention convenes,’ he said, ‘the delegates adopt their own rules, which haven’t been adopted yet.’ There is a standard template for conventions, but delegates could tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”
In other words: the National Republican Committee says that all of the delegates to the Republican National Convention are allowed to “tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”
So: the delegates at that Convention won’t actually be representing anyone but themselves there — they are entirely free to push for anyone whom they personally want to win the Republican U.S. Presidential nomination.  They’re not bound, not even on the first ballot.  They might pretend to be, if they feel a need to put on a show that looks ‘democratic’, but any who don’t feel the need to make such a pretense, can do whatever they want on the first ballot, just like on any successive ballot.  They are free; all of them are free. It’s only the electorate who aren’t — they’re not represented, at all.
What about on the Democratic side?  Wyoming had held its Democratic Party caucuses on April 9, and there really were caucuses.  Two days later, CNN headlined “Wyoming Democratic Caucuses: Bernie Sanders Picks Up Another Win”, and reported: “Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming Democratic caucuses Saturday, providing his campaign with one more jolt of momentum before the race against Hillary Clinton heads east. Even so, he made no gains in Clinton’s delegate lead, as each earned seven delegates as a result.”   On April 12th a youtube video was posted, “MSNBC Morning Host Admits The ‘Whole Voting System Is Rigged’ After Bernie Get’s Cheated!”  Here the co-hosts had a conversation about the results: “Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by twelve points, 56 to 44, … He wins by twelve points.” The accompanying image showed the delegate-count, in this contest that Sanders had won by 56% to 44%: “18 total.  Hillary Clinton 11, Bernie Sanders 7.”  It wasn’t 7 to 7, after all.

Though Sanders had outscored Clinton by 12%, it was worse than even-steven for him; he had actually lost by 11 delegates to 7 delegates. “This system is so rigged!” said one host. “There’s absolutely no reason any of those people voted,” said the other.  A Hillary Clinton supporter was the ‘expert’ on the panel, and he said, “It’s not rigged. These are the rules.” He wasn’t given time to explain that fine point — or how “the rules” were necessarily “not rigged.” Also on April 12th, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich headlined (falsely), “Six Reasons Bernie Sanders Won Wyoming, But Still Tied in the Delegate Race”, and Zwillig failed to explain that word “Tied.”  He opened: “How, many of you ask, could Bernie have won Wyoming 56 percent to Hillary’s 44 percent, but still split the delegates with her 50-50?” Then, he repeated that there had supposedly been “The 7-7 split,” but he also said “Wyoming has a total of 18 delegates” (which obviously isn’t the sum of 7+7) and he was also likewise incoherent, all the way through.
Maybe “the rules” in the Wyoming Democratic Party are like that; but, whatever they are, is so convoluted, America’s news-media couldn’t explain what they were, much less were they able to argue persuasively that this was somehow a democracy.
The only thing that’s clear is that the electoral system in the United States is so convoluted, so complex and so different from state to state and party to party, that whatever the intent of the writers of America’s Constitution might have been, the system as it is today, can be successfully gamed and won only by interests who can afford to spend whatever billions of dollars are necessary in order to win. It’s certainly anything but democratic.
Right now, according to RealClear Politics, there are only two Presidential candidates who are shown repeatedly, and almost consistently, to be preferred by the majority of the U.S. electorate: the Democrat Bernie Sanders is strongly preferred over the Republicans Trump and Cruz, and he is barely preferred over the Republican Kasich; and the Republican Kasich is strongly preferred over the Democrat Clinton.  (Clinton loses strongly to Kasich and barely beats Cruz, while Trump is the weakest general-election candidate of all.)
The strongest general-election candidates are, clearly, Sanders in the Democratic Party, and Kasich in the Republican Party. In a democracy, those would be the candidates. Throughout the contest thus far, neither of these two has been favored likely to win his respective Party’s nomination, much less the Presidency.
Whatever America is, it isn’t a democracy — a one-person-one-vote majority-rule republic. In fact, the only scientific study that has ever been done of the U.S. political system, finds that it’s no “democracy” at all, but instead an “oligarchy,” a nation ruled by its aristocracy, its billionaires. It represents them, not the citizenry. That might not be the theory, but empirically it is the fact. An oligarchy is the commonest type of dictatorship, and it certainly is never a ‘benevolent dictatorship,’ even if that phrase is not an oxymoron in itself.
To sum up: the U.S. is ruled by and for the corrupters. It has been like that since at least 1980.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


If you enjoy OffG's content, please help us make our monthly fund-raising goal and keep the site alive.

For other ways to donate, including direct-transfer bank details click HERE.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mick McNulty
Mick McNulty
Apr 18, 2016 1:33 PM

And the US has the audacity to say the Syria elections of the 14th April were unsatisfactory (source Paul Craig Roberts).

Apr 18, 2016 12:22 PM

The host’s “why would they bother turning up” and “the election is rigged” comments on MSNBC were not made as a protest against a rigged electoral system, rather they were made to detract voters from turning up in the upcoming caucuses. The lower the turnout the more chance Clinton has of winning, and they know it.
After Clinton wins, their condemnation of the electoral process will be all but a long forgotten youtube clip.

Eurasia News Online
Eurasia News Online
Apr 18, 2016 3:23 AM

Reblogged this on Eurasia News Online.

Apr 17, 2016 7:21 PM

Ha-ha-ha! You people have relied on the word of Russia Insider and then have the nerve to agitate against the Guardian.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Apr 17, 2016 10:59 PM
Reply to  louisproyect

Ha-ha-ha! You’ve relied on the word of Fort Russ and then have the nerve to agitate against Russia Insider and the Off-Guardian.

Jennifer Hor
Jennifer Hor
Apr 18, 2016 1:01 AM
Reply to  Seamus Padraig

As a troll, Louis Proyect has no shame.

Apr 18, 2016 1:29 AM
Reply to  Jennifer Hor

I’m mildly amused by his post. Obviously, our very existence bothers some….

Apr 17, 2016 12:20 PM

What is truly sad is the apathy of the common voter as displayed by the low comment count on this informative article. I hope this article receives a higher hit count than is indicated by the # of comments…I, for one, am sharing with as many people who will listen.

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig
Apr 17, 2016 11:01 PM
Reply to  Duhders

Don’t worry, Duhders, Eric Zuesse is published on any number of alt-forums, including his own: washingtonsblog.com. He’s well-known on the internet. The reason why our commenter count is low here is because this is a rather website. You can help by promoting us elsewhere.

Apr 17, 2016 10:01 AM

At 1:37 and forward, the ‘Clinton expert’ John Helman, the guy on the right, is a total asshole. Mika Brezinski had just finished showing the basic math of the Wyoming election: Sanders wins majority of the general public votes by 12 points 56-44–but then the Wyoming delegates spitefully award Wyoming to Clinton 11-7 defying the will of the majority of voters who voted for Sanders. Scarborough then rants ‘the system is so rigged! Why even bother to vote?’, to which John Helman snarks ‘those are the rules’! He conveniently ignores the plainly evident voter disenfranchisement, he denies that the system is in fact rigged by the DNC delegate status quo establishment which will make sure Clinton is anointed the Democratic nominee despite Sanders winning more votes. What a shit election system America has. Why bother having this farcical election show? Just forget it, have the billionaires like the Kochs run the country, run the government, etc. More upfront that way.

5 dancing shlomos
5 dancing shlomos
Jun 12, 2016 8:19 PM
Reply to  Deschutes

jews want the cackling witch.
john heileman is one of the morning jews. there are many.

Apr 17, 2016 5:56 AM

Re-blogged on EU: Ramshackle Empire

Apr 17, 2016 5:53 AM

Reblogged this on EU: Ramshackle Empire.

Secret Agent
Secret Agent
Apr 17, 2016 5:30 AM

The Oligarchy always wins.
If voting made a difference it would be banned.
The illusion of democracy is falling apart.