Monday, July 25, 2016

The Illusion of Choice; How Modern Democracy Failed Bernie Sanders

Just a few hours after it was made public that the controversial website WikiLeaks had released in excess of 19,000 emails between members of the Democratic National Committee, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned her position with the party. As I'm sure you are well aware by now, this email leak contained emails between Schultz and other DNC members, discussing how they would undermine and eliminate Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, guaranteeing that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Nominee. This release of documents comes just slightly more than two weeks after FBI Director James Comey, after reciting pages of felony-worthy infractions made by Clinton, stated that he would not recommend an indictment against her.

Although not as widely-publicized, Bernie Sanders and his supporters had already accused Schultz and the DNC of showing preferential treatment toward Hillary Clinton. Among other allegations, claiming the party limited the number of sanctioned debates between Clinton and Sanders; knowing that Clinton does not come across as a likable candidate of the people if she speaks for more than 15 consecutive seconds. Both Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, had previously asked that Schultz be replaced due to her “obvious bias” against Sanders. These requests however, were quickly dismissed. Interestingly enough, Clinton and her team never had any issues with Schultz.
The entire race for the 2016 Presidential election has been historic, to say the least. Both Democrats and Republicans have shown they are sick of politics, and are ready to shake things up with the upcoming election. Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist” garnered a huge following, especially among younger and lower income voters, who historically, are less likely to participate in elections.

Meanwhile, an almost overwhelming collection of 17 Republican candidates fought for the last 12 months to win the nomination to represent their party. After a staggering 13 scheduled debates (the last of which was canceled due to lack of candidate participation), outspoken billionaire businessman, and unlikely Presidential candidate, Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. Although there was an excessive amount of mud-slinging, and many overly-passionate opinions vocalized during the campaign leading up to the primary election, the majority of the party came together to stand behind Trump. As with the Sanders campaign, Trump earned the support of many voters from the crowd that typically has lower turnout at the polls. Even though some well known Republican legislators were quick to say they would never endorse or support Trump, the delegates at the Republican National Convention still followed the lead of their constituents and gave Trump the nomination.

Unfortunately for Sanders, members of the Democratic National Committee, believed the majority of voters were not intelligent enough to look at both candidates and choose the “right” one. So they decided to pull strings and manipulate public opinion from behind the scenes in order to put another Clinton in the White House. Looking back at it now, it is almost ironic that the socialist candidate, who was looking to distribute wealth and level the playing field, was defeated by big money from behind the scenes. Then, having lost the Democratic nomination, even though many would argue it should have been his, he endorsed Clinton.

Based on how long Sanders waited before endorsing Clinton, I don't believe it would be out of line to speculate that there might have been some back room negotiation between the two, determining exactly what his endorsement would cost her and the DNC. It is a sad state of political affairs when our democratic electoral system fails us, only because one candidate has more money and political power than the other. A system designed to elect our leaders based on popular vote, has been bastardized to the point of being nothing more than the illusion of choice. Then, to make sure everyone has a warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the day, that “choice” is sugar-coated by the media, according to their directions from the Democratic establishment.

Even after his endorsement of Clinton, many of Sanders' supporters are refusing to get behind Clinton. Feeling that Clinton and the DNC stole the nomination from Sanders, they are choosing instead to vote for Trump, or for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. Some have become so frustrated and disillusioned with our political system, they are choosing instead to just simply not vote at all.

If I could give one word of advice to Sanders' supporters, it would be this; If you are sick of seeing Presidential elections dominated by the Clintons, the Bushs, and the other political elites, vote for someone you believe stands the best chance of disrupting this pattern for future elections. A disgruntled vote for Clinton, still says you are okay with continuing things at the status quo. It says you are okay with the establishment deciding which candidate is best for you, and then systematically withholding or presenting information to you in order to manipulate you into voting for said-candidate.

This year, due to the large number of disgruntled voters out there on both sides of the fence, I believe we will see a historically-high number of votes for the third-party Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. People who would normally be “straight ticket” voters feel their views are not represented by the candidates presented to them in our two-party system. If there were ever an opportunity to elect a third party Presidential candidate, this is it. So don't limit yourself by simply voting for the lesser of two evils.

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