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Don’t Blame TRUMP!

The widespread hatred of voters of the ‘wrong kind’ is killing democracy

Donald Trump should be a nominee for this fall. And Bernie Sanders should not.

THIS IS NOT A JUDGMENT on the merits of any candidate, political philosophy or policy position. Instead, it is about a principle that supposedly is a source of pride for Americans but that too many citizens hold in contempt: democracy.

In the past few decades, democracy has become seen as an impediment to those in power, where voters get in the way of the “correct” outcomes. The will of the electorate is treated with scorn, something to push aside for the greater goal of getting into office. Voter suppression, rules manipulation and dirty tricks intended to mislead certain constituents have become workaday realities of the American electoral system. The United States now ranks 20th in the world in the quality of its democracy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, behind Uruguay and down from 17th in 2007. Politicians and party leaders across the board seem to have the mindset attributed to the Argentine demagogue Juan Perón in the musical Evita, when his character sings, “It’s annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause, the inconvenience—having to get a majority.”

In the 2016 U.S. presidential race, that Perónist disdain for the electorate is on display with the outlandish attempts by some Republicans to stop Trump and by some Democrats to crown Sanders.

As Trump continues to sweep up millions of votes, Republican Party leaders are scrambling to find a way to ignore them. Because many can didates were in the race when it started, it is possible Trump won’t have enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican Convention. No doubt, if his last name was Bush or Rubio or Romney, this would be inconsequential—rather than cooking up ways for someone else to get the nod, party leaders would sweet-talk or arm-twist unpledged delegates to coalesce around the front-runner. But Republican politicians and party bosses fear that a Trump nomination could lead to the biggest electoral washout in history and so are scheming to overrule the riffraff.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1899: The attempts by Republican Party apparatchiks to deny Trump the nomination are part of a long history of pols discounting or subverting the will of the people.
VICTOR J. BLUE/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX; PREVIOUS SPREAD: DAMON WINTER/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

Meanwhile, Sanders supporters and campaign strategists are publicly discussing ways to snatch the nomination away from Hillary Clinton, even if she wins the most votes and gets enough delegates to claim the nomination. This strategy has a probability of success tinier than the period at the end of this sentence. However, the basic idea is that, even if more voters cast their ballots for Clinton, Sanders could use the nomination rules to overrule them. The circumstances that raise this possibility are far more complicated than need be explained here, but it all comes down to the rules relating to pledged delegates, unpledged delegates and what are known as superdelegates, who are essentially Dem ocratic officeholders and party leaders. The 712 superdelegates are not bound to vote for the candidate to whom they publicly declared their support (as of this writing, 519 have pledged to Clinton and 39 to Sanders). While Sanders and his supporters previously railed against the superdelegate system as undemocratic, they are now suggesting they might try to flip those delegates to the Vermont senator’s side, even if he loses the popular vote.

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Don't Blame Trump: As Trump continues to sweep up millions of votes, Republican Party leaders are scrambling to find a way to ignore them. Because many candidates were in the race when it started, it is possible Trump won’t have enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the Republican Convention. No doubt, if his last name was Bush or Rubio or Romney, this would be inconsequential—rather than cooking up ways for someone else to get the nod, party leaders would sweet-talk or arm-twist unpledged delegates to coalesce around the front-runner. But Republican politicians and party bosses fear that a Trump nomination could lead to the biggest electoral washout in history and so are scheming to overrule the riffraff.
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