Why "Changing Politics from the Inside" Remains A Herculean Feat for Any Candidate

Created: 06 April, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
5 min read

2016 is shaping up to be the year of the “anti-establishment” candidate.

Though this author is still confused how a career politician or real estate mogul (two resumes deeply embedded within the establishment) fully deserve the “anti-establishment” label, it is abundantly clear that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are not the preferred candidates for their given parties.

And this disapproval is not being demonstrated by voters. Both the Sanders and Trump campaigns do not have the stamp of approval by party leadership. As a result of butting up against so-called party intelligentsia, the voting process cannot be described as anything less than rigged.

With the two main parties demonstrating their utter disregard for their supporters, can we dispel the myth that these parties can be changed from the inside?

Debate about the role of superdelegates has been broached time and time again. Superdelegates are a unique mechanism that only the Democratic Party uses. When Sanders signed on the dotted line to commit to the party, he also signed on to the rules that the party adopted. Bridging the superdelegate gap has been the steepest obstacle for the Sanders campaign. As of the date of this article, Hillary Clinton leads 469-31 in this category.

During a CNN interview, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz offered a perplexing explanation of the role of superdelegates:

“Unpledged delegates exist rally to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.” Her convoluted response rambled on to explain why it is important to include grassroots activists in the convention, but it is more important that support for “committed Democrats” be separated out to “make sure there isn’t competition between them.” - DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

The head-scratching use of the superdelegates became even more perplexing when Howard Dean—former Vermont governor, presidential candidate, DNC Chair, and current superdelegate—pledged his support for Hillary Clinton. Sanders won his home state of Vermont by a significant margin (86.1%), but Dean boldly went against the will of his former constituents. He even arrogantly tweeted, “I’m not elected by anyone. I’ll do what I think is right for the country.”

What Sanders has achieved thus far is very commendable, considering how eager the Democratic Party seemed to ordain Clinton before she officially announced her presidential campaign. However, if Sanders manages to close the gap in pledged delegates going into July’s Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, there is still a strong likelihood that superdelegates will tip the scale against him. If this is the case, it’s time for all progressive Democrats and left-leaning independents who were swayed by Sanders’ message to abandon the party that so blatantly turned their back on them.

The same goes for Trump supporters.

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Trump will likely head into a contested convention with a plurality of delegates. However, the Republican Party is actively conspiring against his campaign.

Party Bosses: We Choose the Candidate WE WantRNC and DNC party bosses are openly admitting that our votes don’t matter… In order to keep their power over voters, they’ll do whatever it takes to stop party outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. If they don't count our votes, we shouldn't pay for their primaries. Sign the Petition: http://bit.ly/Count-Our-VotesPosted by Independent Voter on Friday, March 25, 2016

There are talks of a Cruz-Kasich unity ticket, a possible convention coup that nominates a candidate who didn’t even run like Paul Ryan, or rewriting RNC rules that would negatively impact Trump’s campaign.

When it comes to changing the rules to benefit their preferred candidate, the RNC is well versed in this treachery. For example, Rule 40(b) of “The Rules of the Republican Party” stipulates that a candidate must have the support of a majority of delegates from eight different states to effectively win the nomination.

When was this rule implemented? What was the impetus of 40(b)?

The rule was conveniently formulated in 2012, when another “anti-establishment” candidate, Ron Paul, challenged the eventual nomination of Mitt Romney. Despite only winning one state primary, Paul managed to secure the second most amount of delegates going into the 2012 convention. Rule 40(b) was written and implemented in the 11th hour, effectively blocking all of these delegates from participating in the convention. The Paulbots were not pleased, to say the least.

Originally intended to force Paul out of contention, this rule is now being considered for the chopping block to do the same thing to Trump. “I’m not a fan of the eight-state threshold,” said David Wheeler, a rules committee member. “I think that’s an artificial number.” Wheeler even specifically referenced the intentional disenfranchisement of Paul supporters: “It was designed to prevent Ron Paul delegates—their votes from being counted.” He shrugs off the arbitrary nature of his party’s primaries by saying, “I don’t think it’s necessary to do that this year.”

Now that Trump’s ascension directly challenges party elite preferences and this rule directly benefits him, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the GOP pulls a Roger Goodell by changing the rules one more time that is advantageous to their interests. Perhaps we will see the Republicans put their own spin on superdelegates in 2020.

Keep in mind that this is the same party who plans to block President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination because they want “the voters to decide in 2016.” Apparently Trump receiving the largest number of votes doesn’t apply to this talking point.

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Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that Trump played by the rules. And if the party purposefully changes those rules out of spite for the frontrunner, then they shouldn’t be surprised when they encounter a wave of angst. Paul supporters cannot hold a flame to sheer magnitude and diehard nature personified by Trump supporters.

All this being said, it’s time to abandon the myth that the two parties will willingly reform themselves. Furthermore, it’s time to abandon the myth that these parties can be changed from within by electing a rabble-rouser who openly challenges party decorum and tradition. Or, to put it simply, it’s time to abandon the two parties—entirely.

May 2016 be the end date on the tombstone of the two-party system.

Photo Source: AP

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