United States: Sanders versus the Democratic establishment

More than 7500 people came out to support Bernie Sanders at a rally in Durham, making it the largest New Hampshire rally of any candidate in this primary. Photo: @BernieSanders/Twitter

Suspicions of election “tampering” have darkened a number of primaries and presidential elections in recent history in the United States.

In the presidential contest between Republican George W Bush and the Democratic Party’s Al Gore in 2000, confusing layouts on ballots in Florida — where Bush’s younger brother Jeb was governor — resulted in invalidated votes, votes for alternative candidates that were meant for Gore, and ultimately handed Florida — and the presidency — to Bush.

According to a report in Common Dreams, when Bush then ran against Democratic Party candidate John Kerry in 2004, officials “purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, short-changed Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency”.

In 2016, Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign took control of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and its resources a year before the nominee was decided.

The DNC was supposed to remain neutral between nominees until one had been selected to run against Republican candidate Donald Trump. However, it effectively handed superdelegate votes to Clinton, such that even in states where her rival Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the popular vote, the state went to Clinton

In all these cases, a level of plausible deniability was maintained, or at least the offenders worked within the bounds of bad rules seemingly designed for such underhanded tactics.

However, at the February 3 Iowa caucus it seems there was not even an attempt to conceal the subversion of democracy that took place: While delegates were posting snapshots of their constituency’s results on social media, the now infamous mobile app created by “Shadow Inc” was posting different results for those same districts — all to the detriment of Sanders, whose votes were being digitally culled.

These are the facts so far:

- The app used was created only two months ago behind a veil of secrecy. The Democratic Party refused to name the company it hired to create it, Shadow Inc; it did not provide any information about whether the app had been independently tested, and refused offers from the state department to test it.

- The head of Shadow Inc is Gerard Niemira, a veteran of Clinton’s 2016 campaign and other former Clinton staffers are in key positions in the company. The CEO of Acronym, the parent company and chief investor in Shadow Inc is married to a senior strategist in Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. In other words, persons and organisations in a state of open hostility to Sanders’ campaign were responsible for the management and creation of the app.

- Buttigieg’s campaign paid Shadow Inc a total of US$42,500 last year for unspecified “software-related services”.

- The app crashed when results favoured Buttigieg, keeping favourable numbers for Buttigieg frozen in the media. Districts that overwhelmingly went to Sanders went undeclared for days. The Twitter handle #BerniewonIowa is filled with local representatives declaring their districts for Sanders, while Shadow Inc and the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) still weren’t releasing results.

- Evidence emerged of result-tampering by Shadow Inc and the IDP — in one case Sanders’ votes were simply passed on to Deval Patrick, a non-entity contender.

- Buttigeig declared himself winner in the middle of this utter fiasco, with “zero percent of the vote in”. The establishment media went along with his announcement, with MSNBC, CNN and other networks declaring Buttigieg the winner.

It might have been an error, had it impacted all or more than one candidate, but all discrepancies, counting “errors” and app malfunctions disadvantaged only one candidate — Sanders.

Events like this reveal the establishment media’s true colours. The same institutions who have been banging on about election meddling by Russians and how much of a threat Trump poses to democracy, now look partisan in what seems to be overwhelming evidence of election rigging, or attempted rigging.

Big outfits like MSNBC and CNN or Australia’s ABC — assuming they maintain an “innocent until proven guilty by a court of law” stance — should be leading calls for a full investigation, considering the damning evidence revealed so far.

Democracy is under threat in the West, not from Russian bots, uneducated and poor rural conservatives or politically incorrect comedians, but from the power of international corporations, banks, multinational drug and food producers, the arms trade and the fossil fuel industry.

These interests are in bed with our major parties and mainstream media, and are the interests Pete Buttigieg has signalled he will protect.

These same interests see a threat in Sanders: He has promised to close corporate tax-loopholes, impose a financial transactions tax, introduce medicare for all — which would decimate the multi-trillion dollar private healthcare industry, raise the minimum wage, reduce the arms budget and America’s military footprint around the world and introduce sweeping new renewable energy targets.

Realising this bold agenda will be no easy task if Sanders wins the presidency, but he will at the very least lay down some of the first stones.

The mainstream media will pull out all the stops to get an establishment figure like Buttigieg or Biden to represent the Democrats; and if they fail, the Trump-is-the-Devil pretence will be dropped, and Sanders will become the target of their smear campaign.

It is Sanders and the American people versus the corporatocracy and Wall Street.

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