Former vice president Joe Biden has just had another good night in the Democratic Party primary race. It looks increasingly likely that he will take the nomination to face Donald Trump in November rather than progressive challenger Bernie Sanders. But one group of activists has pointed out that the process itself might not have been as ‘free and fair’ as it’s being presented.
Disappointing ‘Super Tuesday II’?
On 10 March, Democratic voters went to the polls in ‘Super Tuesday II‘. Although Sanders won North Dakota and seems the likely winner in Washington state, Biden stayed ahead by winning Mississippi, Missouri and, crucially, Michigan – the largest state by population holding a contest that night. The Sanders campaign hoped to win the large midwestern state in order to launch a comeback after a disappointing performance on ‘Super Tuesday’ the previous week. Sanders won the state in 2016, and analysts see it as a crucial battleground because Trump became the first Republican to win there since George H. W. Bush in 1988.
Not so fast…
The Democratic establishment and its backers in the corporate-owned liberal media instantly began crowing that voters had rejected Sanders’s progressive pledges in favor of a supposed ‘safer bet’ in Biden. But was their apparent assumption of a fair contest correct? Some critics certainly believed it wasn’t. Because on the evening of the vote, activists from CODEPINK and The Grayzone Project gathered outside the Organization of American States in Washington DC to ask it to send election monitors to oversee the rest of the primary contest. Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal said:
The OAS must send an emergency election monitoring team to the United States to ensure independent scrutiny of a presidential primary that has been marred by clear irregularities and the systematic and highly discriminatory obstruction of citizens’ right to vote
Typical US double standards
The activists pointed out that, since its founding in 1962, the OAS has sent election monitoring teams all over the Western Hemisphere on hundreds of occasions; but it has only monitored a US election once (in 2016, following Trump’s allegation that the election would be rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor). This discrepancy is highly ironic given that the US demands other countries submit to independent monitoring yet consistently fails to do so itself.
The activists also pointed to another layer of irony given Washington’s use of OAS allegations of electoral irregularities to justify ‘regime change’ operations throughout Latin America. In 2019, for example, it did exactly this with respect to the presidential election in Bolivia. Shortly after the OAS issued its statement, a US-backed military coup forcibly removed progressive president Evo Morales, unleashing a wave of violence and repression of leftists – resulting in Morales and others seeking exile abroad. And in the cruelest irony of all, independent research subsequently found the election had been free and fair all along.
As CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin put it:
While the OAS’s findings in Bolivia have been comprehensively discredited by researchers from the Center for Economic Policy Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is incumbent on this organization to uphold the same standards it applies in countries targeted by the United States for regime change to the United States itself
A joint statement from Grayzone and CODEPINK said:
The Democratic primaries have been the scene of severe discrimination against minority, poor and elderly voters. Throughout the contest, voters have had to travel unusually long distances to reach polling places, then forced to stand in long lines for as long as four hours to cast their votes. The problem has been particularly pronounced in impoverished and minority-heavy areas, as well as within the student population.
The activists cited a strong denunciation from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) – the US’s oldest civil rights organization for the ‘Latino/a’ population. LULAC argued there had been a “calculated effort to suppress the minority vote during [the March 3 primaries on] Super Tuesday” and called the phenomenon “a danger to our democracy.”
Not the first time either…
This isn’t the first time that questions have been raised as to whether Sanders has suffered from possible irregularities. As The Canary has previously reported, there’s evidence to suggest that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) – the party’s governing body – conspired to damage his ultimately unsuccessful campaign in 2016. As Branko Marcetic, who The Canary recently interviewed, put it:
Joe Biden's campaign is currently only being kept viable by the media and Democratic elites, both of which will cease to have their powerful influence on the election after the Democratic primary ends. Not a good sign for those wanting Trump out of office.
— Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) March 11, 2020
Pundits in Washington, meanwhile, have declared Sanders’s campaign ‘all but done’. But it’s important to point out that it’s still not mathematically impossible for him to win the contest. Moreover, as the activists above have pointed out, it’s far from clear whether the contest was a fair one in the first place. This ultimately raises the question of whether the left should now work entirely outside the established two-party system. And many have made this point:
Something for the left to think abt. The reason everyone obsesses over the wants & needs of moderates is bc they r constantly threatening to vote for the other team/stay home. The party thinks the left will vote for them no matter what so we have 0 power & get treated like crap.
— Krystal Ball (@krystalball) March 11, 2020
Perhaps a third party challenge may be the answer if Sanders fails to turn the tables. As the experience of Greece has shown, insurgent parties can and do upend the political status quo with the right conditions and campaign. Maybe it’s time for the US public to take note.
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