You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Michigan and Mississippi: Should Red-State Delegates Vote on the Nomination of a Candidate for a Blue-state Party?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 9/03/2016 Rob Hager
DEFAULT © Provided by The Huffington Post DEFAULT

Michigan tells plutocrat mass media and pollsters to just stop talking about Clinton winning
Maybe Michigan will get people to tune out the insistent mass media propaganda megaphone that keeps reporting the falsehood that Sanders can't win. Inevitability propaganda, along with lies about Sanders' record (e.g. auto bailouts, health care finance), seem to be Clinton's primary campaign strategy. The fact is that where it counts, in the blue and purple states, outside the South, Sanders has either won landslides or fought Clinton -- with her far superior resources for buying large media markets like Detroit and Boston, as well as in Nevada - to a virtual draw.
A week after Super Tuesday Clinton has completed her sweep of the red state South that should be irrelevant, because it will predictably make no contribution at all to a Democratic Electoral College victory in November. At the same time Sanders dramatically disproved the polls by turning an essential corner to victory by defeating Clinton by 1.5% in Michigan. Sanders generously and properly calls this a draw because delegates are awarded proportionately. Clinton won Detroit Metro - 60% of Wayne (40% black), 51% of Oakland (15% black) and 48% of McComb (8% black), the three largest counties in the state which have about 100,000 voters or more. Clinton also won 50% in Genesee County (20% black)(Flint) which cast about half that number of votes. Sanders won pretty much everywhere else in the state.
The media treats Mississippi and Michigan as offsetting primary victories. They are not. The first is irrelevant, or should be; the second is game-changing.
"Rotten borough" Delegates
In a separate article I have argued that the Clinton "victory" awarded to her by the mass media on the basis of her primary results in the red-state South, starting in South Carolina and ending now in Mississippi, is an illusion created by four or five undemocratic devices that should be corrected, or compensated for, by DNC rule changes. One of those devices is the "rotten borough." This term was originally used to describe the royally-rigged English voting system that founders like Thomas Paine ridiculed as part of the corrupt system that they revolted against. It applies to any depopulated election district that retains its original representation though hardly anyone lives there any more.
The primary results in Mississippi and Michigan demonstrate how rotten borough corruption works. No longer are any Democratic electors living in these red states like Mississippi. The Electoral College determines who will be President, not individual Democratic voters who are disenfranchised by red-state winner-take-all presidential election laws. In the Democratic nominating Convention, blue and purple states need to select a candidate who can win blue and purple state electors. Red states have no proper role to play in this process. Red state electors will be voting against the Democratic nominee in the Electoral College.
Voting red-state delegates allow the plutocratic candidate and her plutocratic mass media supporters the opportunity to propagandize that everyone should just stay home from the primaries because Clinton is going to win anyway based on her "rotten borough" results. In a fair run-off system those results would be nothing more than straw polls.
Others argue from the fact that Super Tuesday is deliberately frontloaded with red states that it distorts the apparent relative strength of the candidates and thereby favors plutocrats by weakening the morale of the opposition. It is said: "The idea was to crush any liberal candidate in those states ... so their funding would dry up and their campaigns would die early in the primary season." Democrats in red states are not very well informed by local media about Democratic politics, and therefore are more easily propagandized than are blue state residents by plutocratic money and its control of the national mass media. Although this result is deliberate, and this argument also tends to delegitimize the red-state Super Tuesday results, including South Carolina and Mississippi, it leaves any principled remedy to future rescheduling.

The argument made here is not about the timing of the red state primaries, but their illegitimacy as determinants of voting strength in the nominating Convention.
The rotten borough delegate system allows states empty for a generation, or more, of any Democratic electoral votes to nevertheless share in the power of nominating the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate who, as a matter of fact, will only win by carrying a coalition of blue and purple states. "Rotten borough" voting by red state delegates is one of several corrupt rules that the Democratic Party uses to throw the nomination to the candidate of plutocrats. It is undemocratic and arguably also unconstitutional.
Excluding these "rotten borough" states from the scorecard, the current count is that Sanders has won four blue states by landslides, has scored virtual ties in the important blue states of Massachusetts and Michigan, and has a 1-1 record in purple states, with two more virtual ties in purple Nevada and Iowa.

Even the one blue state in Clinton's column, Massachusetts, has an unexplained 8% exit-poll anomaly which argues for a blanket DNC rule change that would discount the weight of any ballots from states that are not made on paper, and subject to hand re-count. One analysis of Massachusetts' returns alleges that the anomalies "indicate fraud." This should require explanation before the Rules committee where the credentials of Clinton's Massachusetts' delegates should be challenged. Without Massachusetts, Clinton has yet to win a single blue state and has no better than tied in purple states outside the South.
Sanders' six representative blue and purple state wins and three virtual ties are suggestive of his competitive strength going forward in each of five well-defined Blue and purple state regions, of the East Coast (represented by Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts), Rustbelt Midwest (represented by Michigan), Upper Midwest (represented by Minnesota and Iowa), Southern Rockies (represented by Colorado), and Pacific Coast (represented by Nevada). These regions will elect a Democratic president.
Michigan clearly counts because it has consistently contributed Democratic electoral votes for a generation. Red states have not, and there is no better indicator than that of the mathematical probability that they will not contribute any electors in 2016. In a democratic election where those who do not contribute to victory are not treated as equal to those that do, red-state Mississippi would provide an interesting straw vote while blue-state Michigan would contribute voting delegates to determine the Democratic nominee. The media would not be touting a split decision but rather appreciating that Michigan has just opened the path to nomination for Sanders.
Since it can be safely predicted that Mississippi's electors will be voting against, not for, the Democratic nominee in the Electoral college, it must therefore be explained why Mississippi electors should get a say in nominating the person the state's electors will predictably vote against. Diluting the voting strength of those states like Michigan which will be voting for the nominee in the Electoral College is discrimination.
No delegate count is final until the delegates are credentialed under rules that are approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. In the states that will count in the electoral college for Democrats, Sanders is winning. The rules need to be changed so they will not discriminate against those states.
Sanders' campaign manager has called Clinton a "regional candidate." Michigan confirms that to be a fair description of a candidate who has yet to win any blue state, with the one exception where there is an allegation pending that "the election was likely stolen."
Slow Campaign Strategy
Unfortunately the Sanders campaign has yet to open this separate front against undemocratic DNC rules that include Clinton's red state victories in her voting delegate count. Just as the Sanders campaign has been slow in figuring out how to communicate effectively to black voters, it is also getting a slow start in advocating publicly for the necessary DNC rule changes that would make the run-off process sufficiently democratic that the most popular candidate in the race of either party could make it on the Democratic Party general election ballot. Without these changes, including disqualifying delegates from red states from voting for a presidential nominee, the Democratic Party cannot sustain the pretense of conducting a democratic national run-off election process.
An aggressive public, and even legal, challenge to DNC rules would also eliminate the propaganda advantage of Clinton claiming she is winning when in fact, under a process governed by democratic rules, she is clearly losing.
A rule change by the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC that red-state primaries should be treated as straw votes that do not count in the nomination voting process would immediately put Sanders significantly in the lead, apart from those Superdelegate votes which is another opportunity for fraud that needs to be corrected by a different rule change, and similarly publicized.
Efforts for reform of the corrupt DNC apparatus, best symbolized by its conflicted Chairwoman, would also help to better focus the discussion on the laggard left whether the Democratic Party (and therefore also Sanders by implication, for participating) should be scrapped as the front-group for plutocrats that it is.
It is difficult to argue the strategic advantage of what Lenin might have called the "infantile disorder" of pursuing third party politics in a rigidly two party system, until the precise changes necessary to turn the Democratic Party into an authentic vehicle for democratic politics are identified. Only then can the degree of difficulty of changing the DNC rules be assessed as compared to the obvious obstacles of a third party run, even with the best conceivable ticket (Nader/LaDuke) running on the best platform (Green Party 1996 and 2000). While no third party unaffiliated with plutocrats has come close to winning since 1860, much less under the modern primary system, a similar insurgent primary campaign in 1968 did lead to systemic DNC rule changes in 1972. Those changes made Carter's election possible. Coming just when Buckley v Valeo (1976) converted the Democratic Party and the country to a plutocracy by legalizing corruption, the 1976 election seems more significant in retrospect, as the last democratic election, than it did at the time.
The 1972 rule changes largely remain, with the added plutocratic safety-switch of easily bribed and otherwise conflicted Superdelegates. The 1972 reforms that remain have enabled Sanders to Tai-chi the plutocratic DNC apparatus for purposes of overcoming plutocracy. The South only became "rotten borough" red states after 1976, and so this issue was not addressed in the 1972 reforms. If Sanders succeeds then further rule changes to outlaw the plutocratic DNC bag of tricks should be enacted to pave the way for his successors. Even if he does not succeed, changing these rules should be the price of any further support for the Democratic Party.
Since the courts have correctly held that the partially privatized run-off process is state action subject to constitutional equal protection requirements, plutocratic rigging of the rules of the game that interfere with equal voting rights need not be meekly accepted as a given. The nomination process is a governmental function from which discrimination is prohibited. Especially now that Antonin Scalia can no longer, from wherever he currently resides, cast a fifth vote for the Supreme Court's previously predictable plutocratic rulings, the campaign for challenging these rules must begin.
Black Michigan voters
The corruption that "rotten boroughs" generate became manifest in 2016 when southern black voters supported a Jim Crow racist, who black leaders warn will only sell out their interests while posturing as a civil rights hero. The overwhelming preference for Clinton among southern black voters exposed the triumph of a propaganda system that could ignore the progressive civil rights organizer whose every policy, unknown to red state voters, is aimed at reversing the decline of working class and middle class fortunes and who at the same time has a specific racial justice program to address the structural discrimination which, alongside the class issues, drive the white privilege system.
The red state electoral results defied all evidence presented by black intellectuals and spokespersons. These southern voters never heard the warnings about Clinton from black intellectuals and activists not coopted by the Clinton plutocrat-funded machine. Rotten boroughs exist to produce such anomalies.
I have argued elsewhere, that this is still early days of the campaign. Notwithstanding the consistent and expected money-stream media propaganda advising his supporters that it has been all over for him after the Super Tuesday 7-4 split decision, Sanders is actually on a personal trajectory to victory, unless his campaign's strategic failures lose it for him.
Michigan demonstrates that blacks living in blue states are better informed about their own political interests than the Clinton victory showed southern blacks to have been of theirs, due to factors they do not control. This difference can be symbolized by contrasting the views of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Cornel West and Michelle Alexander with the calculations of a John Lewis. This difference manifested in Michigan as a reduction of Clintons' margin of victory over Sanders with black voters to 2 to 1 from as much as 9 to 1 in the South. Without absolving the Sanders campaign of strategic failure in effectively communicating Sanders' far superior commitment to racial justice that is falsified by the mass media, Michigan nevertheless shows that this factor will give Clinton less of an advantage with this demographic going forward in the blue and purple states that will decide the nomination.
Racial Neutrality
Propagandists for the identitypolitics behind which plutocrats disguise themselves as "liberal" to undermine progressive anti-plutocracy unity will be quick to point out that the voters in the southern rotten boroughs are largely African-Americans. They will play the "racist" card. But this losing play ignores that red states outside the South tend to have very small African-American populations and that the blue and purple states is where the other half of African-Americans live, not to mention most of their white political allies ever since the abolition movement, as well.
If Virginia and North Carolina are treated as purple or purplish states, a majority of black Americans do not live in southern red states. Since a roughly equal number live in blue and purple states which will have their equal representation restored, then there is no net loss in black voting power attributable to rules reform. That power now distributed to disenfranchised individual voters without respect to their residence in "rotten boroughs" would be shifted to the roughly equal number of enfranchised black voters who do live in blue and purple states and whose influence on the electoral college is currently underrepresented due to the dilution caused by red-state voting delegates.
Plains and western red states without much black population, such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska, which Sanders won, would also lose voting power by abolishing the rotten borough system. Since their current unrepresentative voting power would also be reallocated to the underrepresented blue and purple states where blacks do live in large numbers, there could well be a net gain of black influence on the selection of the blue-state candidate by introducing democracy to the DNC voting delegate selection process.

If racial equality is not a neutral factor, then it would more likely be a significantly positive result from stripping all red state rotten boroughs of their current discriminatory over-representation.

By changing the rules to a democratic run-off system, what Mississippi loses in delegate strength Michigan would gain.
----
Rob Hager, a Harvard Law graduate, is a public interest litigator who filed amicus briefs in the Montana sequel to Citizens United and has worked as an international consultant on anti-corruption policy. He is currently writing a three-part book assessing proposals for ending the political influence of special interest money. The current eLibrary draft of the first part, Hillary Clinton's Dark Money Disclosure "Pillar," is available online.

More from Huffington Post

The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon