Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes. Everybody knows. – Leonard Cohen
We can disagree in the margins, but the truth of the matter is it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change. – Joe Biden
The Democratic Primaries
This is not going to be pretty. The election is more than a case of politics making strange bedfellows; it’s two branches of the ruling class in a food-fight. It’s Republican shills for the mega-rich driving white rage down the same old roads of fear and white supremacism they’ve been riding since the 1670s. And it’s octogenarian Democrat dinosaurs using the Russiagate narrative – and now the “Bountygate” narrative – to distract you from the fact that their corporate, neoliberal policies serve the same financial interests as do those of the Republicans.
And the same militarism. Even as I write this, both the full Senate (including 16 Democrats) and the House Armed Services Committee (with a Democratic majority) have just voted to make it much more difficult to withdraw U.S. troops from the “forever war” in Afghanistan.
Yes, yes, support Biden, for all the appropriate reasons. This time the lesser of two evils is less evil enough for it to matter. But don’t be naïve, and don’t kid yourself about the inappropriate reasons. Biden’s campaign has stressed a fantasy of a “return to normalcy” after an “abnormal” president. However, as Caitlin Johnstone writes, this is a silly idea for two reasons:
Firstly, wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is wanting the conditions which gave rise to Trump…the same status quo austerity, exploitation, oppression and warmongering …Secondly, this fabled “return to normality” that Biden is supposedly offering is literally impossible, since normality never actually left. Normality never left, because Donald Trump is a very normal US president.
…the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.
Again: as mythologists, our first responsibility is to strip away the narratives that keep us from acknowledging reality. The only meaningful way to oppose Trumpus is from the position of a new story that reveals how the myth of innocence – even, perhaps especially in its liberal varieties – has led us all up Shit Creek.
It means giving the one hundred million adult Americans who don’t vote something to get excited about, as Bernie Sanders would have done, rather than fighting over the scraps of the tiny numbers of undecided “swing” voters. We can’t ignore the fact that instead of articulating a progressive (and extremely popular) critique of the military machine, almost all the leading Democrats continue to attack Trumpus’ foreign policies, but from the right.
To get past our denial and really understand what the DNC does, we have to take an unblinkered view of the cesspool known as the Democratic primaries. It will be enlightening if not encouraging. Mysteries abound. In the best conventional analysis I’ve seen so far, Jacobin’s Branko Marcetic (I’m quoting him because he’s a legitimate leftist) lists some of them:
Sanders’s leftward stances on issues like immigration supposedly lost him rural counties, but he had the best standing with rural voters, out of all Democrats. He supposedly alienated rank-and-file Democrats with his rhetoric, yet held sky-high favorability ratings among them throughout 2020…(he) won nearly every demographic in Nevada, even moderates and conservatives, and led nationally among black voters on the eve of South Carolina…He annihilated his rivals in donor numbers from Obama-to-Trump counties, had historic electoral strength in such areas, and had the largest lead among independents in head-to-head polling with Trump among all his rivals.
In searching for answers for Biden’s triumph, Marcetic does acknowledge the role of the media:
…these themes were relentlessly advanced by the network(s): beating Trump was all that mattered, Biden was the safest bet to do so, and running Sanders — when the network deigned to mention him at all — would be a risk…these developments prompted a barrage of attacks and apocalyptic warnings from Democratic officials and pundits about Sanders’s threat to Democrats’ chances in November. A group of party centrists spent millions blanketing South Carolina with ads making these charges. Party leaders and rival candidates openly vowed to deprive him of the nomination if he won the most votes…CNN covered Sanders three times as negatively after his blowout Nevada win as they did Biden after his romp through South Carolina, assailing Sanders’s electability above all…
We should also note Elizabeth Warren’s egregious, opportunistic, unforgivable betrayal of Sanders.
But ultimately, Marcetic falls back on the conventional – that is naively innocent – perspective: “…voters saw Biden as the candidate by far most likely to win against Trump.” He simply refuses to consider the observable facts on the ground, and in doing so he reveals his trust in the system. Worse, the implication is that he (like all the mainstream media he would criticize) wants you to trust it.
Here is the fundamental reality of politics in America: both Republicans and Democrats tamper with election results whenever they can get away with it, but they do so at differing points in the election cycle. That this happens this way is no mystery. Why it happens is the mystery.
Greg Palast, Harvey Wasserman and others have demonstrated that in the 2016 primaries the DNC was able to manipulate the vote, in every case to the detriment of the Sanders campaign. In State after state, claims Jonathan Simon, author of Code Red: Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century, “The vote counts were more in favor of Clinton than the exit polls, which were more in favor of Bernie Sanders. We saw a very consistent pattern of that.”
In liberal Massachusetts, Sanders beat Clinton in all the precincts with hand-counted paper ballots but lost every single precinct that used electronic voting machines.
Palast tells us that exit polls are the State Department’s own “gold standard” used to measure the honesty of – and in several cases – decertify elections in other countries such as Nicaragua and Uganda. Our own Agency for International Development (a well-known front for the CIA) has stated:
Detecting fraud: Exit polls provide data that is generally indicative of how people voted. A discrepancy between the aggregated choices reported by voters and the official results may suggest, but not prove, that results have been tampered with.
The discrepancies between the exit polls’ projections of each candidate’s vote share and the vote shares derived from unobservable computer counts have a considerable impact on the apportionment of delegates to each candidate, which is, after all, the main reason for these state primaries. Palast continues:
Exit polling is, historically, deadly accurate. The bane of pre-election polling is that pollsters must adjust for the likelihood of a person voting. Exit polls solve the problem…In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida; in 2004, exit polls gave Kerry the win in Ohio…So how could these multi-million-dollar Ph.d-directed statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong? Answer: they didn’t. The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate. That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?” What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted?”
So why don’t we hear more about this? Mainstream media outlets contract with a company called Edison Research to conduct exit polling. Joe Lenski, its executive vice president, has candidly admitted that Edison massages its exit poll data once official vote counts have been released to align the exit poll numbers with the electronic vote totals. Indeed, the whole argument about vote flipping is possible only because researchers have been able to post those exit polls before Edison can change them.
This may be old news from February 2017, but it bears mentioning: Tom Perez, soon to be named Chair of the DNC, bragged that they had rigged the primaries in favor of Clinton. His remark appeared online before he could retract it.
What does this mendacity accomplish? As I predicted in my analysis of the 2016 election, the Clinton forces ensured her nomination by sweeping the primaries in the Southern states. This effectively eliminated Sanders, but these were all states that were certain to go to Trumpus in the general election, and the DNC was perfectly aware of this.
So, that was 2016. What about the 2020 Democratic primaries (compiled by TDMS Research) Surely, the power brokers have learned that they can’t afford to alienate the young, the black, the brown and the progressive – in other words, the base of the party. Right? Hold your nose.
New Hampshire (2/17):
The New Hampshire Democratic Party Primary computerized vote count results differ significantly from the results projected by the exit poll conducted by Edison Research and published by CNN at poll’s closing. The disparities exceed the exit poll’s margin of error.Buttigieg’s vote count exhibited the largest disparity from his exit poll projection. His unverified computer-generated vote totals represented a 12% increase of his projected exit poll share.
South Carolina (2/29): This was the state where Biden began his (alleged) big comeback, where the media unanimously trumpeted the narrative of his “electability.”
Election results from the computerized vote counts differed significantly from the results projected by the exit poll. The disparities exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Biden’s vote count exhibited the largest disparity from his exit poll projection. His unverified computer-generated vote totals represented an 8.3% increase of his projected exit poll share. Given the 528,776 voters in this election, he gained approximately 19,700 more votes than projected by the exit poll.
As in the 2016 Massachusetts primary between candidates Sanders and Clinton, disparities greatly exceed the exit poll’s margin of error. Sanders won Massachusetts in the exit poll and lost it in the computer count. The discrepancies between the exit poll and the vote count for Sanders and Biden totaled 8.4%— double the 4.0% margin of error…Warren’s and Biden’s discrepancies also totaled 8.4%, again double the margin of error. Noteworthy is the fact that the 2016 Massachusetts Republican Party exit poll taken at the same time and at the same precincts as the Democratic Party primary, and also with a crowded field of five candidates, was matched almost perfectly by the computer count—varying by less than one percent for each candidate.
In Sanders’ home state, the combined disparities between the exit poll and the vote count for candidates Sanders and Biden at 10.8% exhibited the largest disparity of the 14 primary states that voted to date…Biden with an exit poll share of 17% and in danger of receiving 0 delegates (if his vote count fell below 15%) outperformed his exit poll share by 4.5% in the vote counts—a 26.1% increase of his exit poll share.
According to the exit poll Sanders won by 15%. Computer counts cut his lead by half (once again more than double the margin of error). To date, California computers totaled 250,600 fewer votes for Sanders and Warren than projected by the exit polls and 236,700 more votes for Biden and Bloomberg. The current (3/9/2020) apportionment of California delegates stands at 185 for Sanders and 143 for Biden. The estimate derived from the exit polls calculates to 207 delegates for Sanders and 122 for Biden.
In Texas, computer counts resulted in 90 delegates for Sanders and 102 for Biden. Substituting California and Texas exit polls’ estimated delegate count for the computer derived counts results in Sanders leading the current delegate count by 543 to 501 for Biden.
The large discrepancies greatly exceeded the margin of error …Sanders underperformed his exit poll projected proportions by 15.4% (and) received 105,000 less votes than projected while others (mainly Biden and Bloomberg) received 111,000 more than projected by the exit poll. Of concern is Michigan’s destruction of the ballot images, that could have been used to greatly facilitate a recount, that were created by their scanners for their counts. This destruction appears to violate both federal and state laws.
As in 11 of the 17 state primaries elections prior to March 17, the discrepancies between exit polls projections and the results of the unobservable computer vote counts in Missouri is large and beyond the margin of error associated with the exit poll…all but one of these large discrepancies favors Biden and disfavors Sanders.
Here are some other commentaries on the primaries:
So let’s not kid ourselves. Part of waking up from the myth of American innocence is realizing that politics is not and never has been about morality; it’s about power, how to wield it, but primarily about how to get some of it. It’s the real world. Once we understand that, we can theoretically accept the premises of the centrist-liberal willingness to achieve small bits of incremental progress through compromise and limited demands. That describes the eight years of the Obama administration, which gave the bankers, the generals and the Israelis absolutely everything they wanted in exchange for some limited progress in health care.
This helps us understand another premise of the centrist-liberals: the marginalizing of dissident voices such as Bernie Sanders. From the perspective of the center (and coincidentally those already in power), it’s necessary to create false equivalencies between “populists” of both left and right.
The real threat of course is from the left. So in this world of real politics, Democratic centrists can and must do everything possible to eliminate any threat from the left so as to avoid scaring off “middle of the road” voters. If you prefer to imagine the DNC’s and Joe Biden’s motives as essentially moral and idealistic, here is a logical road to back up that kind of thinking. You have to play hardball to get anything worthwhile done, they would shrug and say. And it might even help you justify their manipulation of the primary votes.
The demonstrable fact, by the way, that this strategy has almost never worked seems to be irrelevant to those who consume this version of the myth. But you may ask, “What about Bill Clinton? Didn’t he do exactly that in 1992?” Well, quite apart from what he actually did in office (bombing Serbia and Iraq; eviscerating welfare), if Ross Perot had not siphoned off 19% of the vote, it’s possible that George H.W. Bush would have been re-elected.
The only context in which the DNC’s obsession with middle-of-the-road voters makes any practical sense is the above-mentioned Republican control of the voting process in half the states. If we assume – and we should – that they will continue the swindle in those states, then Democratic focus on the swing states matters.
But it makes no sense at all when we return to these facts: the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout in the industrialized world; half of eligible voters simply don’t bother; the vast majority of them are poor and have no health insurance (or jobs); and they won’t vote this time, even to get rid of Trumpus, unless the Democrats give them reasons to. Ultimately, we have to acknowledge that not giving a hundred million people reason to think that their votes might matter represents a profound contempt for democracy.
There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. – Jim Hightower