Democracy is dying, and the last great hope for salvation passed away as Cory Booker dropped out of the race for the White House. Of the 12 Democrats still persevering, only one, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, isn’t white – and his name is very conspicuously missing from the Jan. 14 debate roster. While the rest of the nation seems to have already written him off, HuffPost hasn’t. They have invited him and three other candidates to discuss plans to save democracy on Jan. 19. But with Patrick the only person of color remaining in the Dem field – and only achieving a mere 1% in a single poll – democracy, at least as Salon defines it, is clearly doomed.
Democrats: Saviors of Democracy?
Big money dominates American politics. The right to vote is under attack. Democracy as we know it is dying – and HuffPost is determined to assemble a team of heroes to save it. At 3 p.m. Central Time Sunday, Jan. 19, in Des Moines, IA, HuffPost’s senior political reporter, Kevin Robillard, and Washington Bureau Chief Amanda Terkel will host and moderate a discussion with four of the Democratic candidates about campaign finance reform, voting rights, and how to “create a democracy that the American people believe works for them.”
So who are these heroes of democracy? Let’s take a look at the lineup:
Former South Bend, IA, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is calling for a generational change in the White House. And polling at 9% in fourth place with the third-place candidate doing twice as well, Not Mayor Anymore Pete’s chances of achieving this goal seem microscopic at best.
Speaking of the third-place candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is polling at 16%, behind frontrunner and runner up Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and their respective national polling averages of 27% and 19%. She is, perhaps, the best-prepared candidate to discuss these issues, as “I have a plan for that” has become a sort of mantra for her campaign. But unless she comes up with and executes a better plan for defeating both Biden and Sanders, none of her other plans will matter.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is polling at a mere 5%, sees herself as a Midwestern pragmatist who gets things done. Well, out of two dozen Democrats, she has somehow managed to stay in the running longer than about half. She – like everyone else at this event other than the final candidate – is in the list of six who made the Jan. 14 debate. But she’s polling in seventh place behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, and Andrew Yang.
Finally, the fourth candidate to join the HuffPost lineup is the former governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. Mr. Patrick’s national polling average is under 1% and he isn’t even appearing on the ballot in all 50 states. CNN lists all 12 remaining Democratic Party candidates in order of success in three of the top polls. Mr. Patrick places dead last. What are his chances of occupying the Oval Office? See the entry on Pete Buttigieg.
Missing from this crack team of heroes is anyone who is actually likely to win the Democratic Party nomination, never mind the White House. But don’t worry, the Democratic Avengers still have some major political firepower – it’s just all focused in the groups sponsoring the event.
Despite the fact that ending the influence of big money in politics is one of the major themes in this forum, each of these organizations is revealed by a quick trip to opensecrets.org as little more than a fundraising and lobbying operation for progressive politicians and policies. Let’s have a look at a few that really stand out:
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: This anti-gun group has already contributed $130,407 – entirely to Democrats, of course – for the year 2020. Since 2002, the organization has contributed a whopping $618,266 to Democrats and $2,081 to Republicans.
Common Cause: $2,033 so far in 2020, all to Democrats, and $54,581 since 2002, a mere 1% of which went to Republicans. So much for being a “non-partisan watchdog.”
End Citizens United Action Fund: There’s a special irony in a PAC devoted to fighting the corrupting effect of big money in politics being one of the biggest spenders on the list. In 2020 so far, this group has contributed $685,075 with $0 to Republicans – and $4,056,363 since 2016.
So, by their powers combined, can this well-funded team of also-rans usher in a pure, direct democracy that “works for them”? Of course not. And the reason is, well, direct democracy.
Democrats: Still Racist After All?
HuffPost’s inclusion of Deval Patrick aside, the Democratic Party has a whiteness problem. That is to say, except for the one black man who is polling dead last out of the dozen remaining candidates, there isn’t a single person of color in the running for the 2020 presidential nomination. Andrew Yang, of course, doesn’t count. In the world of intersectionality, Asian is still white. The seventh debate, of course, is even worse. Of the six to take the stage Jan. 14, all are white, only three are under age 70, and one is actually a billionaire – though to be fair, none of them are exactly impoverished.
How did the Democrats go from the most diverse presidential field to this? Never mind the fact that there are two women and an openly gay man among the candidates in this debate – they’re all white, so goodbye diversity. According to Salon, it’s the party’s fault.
“It didn’t have to be this way. Democratic leadership, anxious about the crowded field and unwieldy debates, intentionally structured the process to winnow down the number of candidates before any ballots were actually cast.”
What’s the solution? Ranked-choice voting, of course. Maine became the first state in the Union to implement this voting method back in June 2018. As Liberty Nation explained then, ranked-choice ballots include a row for each candidate and a column for each ranking equal to the number of candidates. A voter marks the first choice, then – if they want to – can rank the rest. If any candidate receives a true majority (50% + one vote), that’s the winner. If not, then whoever received the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and all the votes that went to them as the first choice get redistributed to each voter’s second choice. This process is repeated until someone has a true majority.
Of course, the most likely outcome of ranked-choice voting is that whoever would have won the plurality in the current system would still win in most cases – just with a manufactured majority thanks to the reshuffling.
Now, let’s look at the real culprit behind the whitewashing of the Democratic Party: Democrats as a whole. What metrics were used to winnow the field? Polling data – which is to say, pre-election voting – and individual donors.
The overwhelming majority of Democrats are supporting the old, rich, straight, white men – and then Sen. Warren, of course – with millions of dollars in donations and a combined 62% of the vote, should the polls turn out accurate. And while only about 12.7% of the U.S. population is black, you still can’t blame this entirely on racist white folk. As Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles wrote:
“Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential race – and, according to a recent poll, he’s destroying his competition when it comes to earning the support of black Americans.”
So why aren’t black Americans opting for the black candidates? Most of them are too conservative to vote for anyone but the most moderate of the far-left options. As Jeff explained, “many blacks would consider themselves conservatives, but will not embrace the GOP because they believe they are not welcome in the party.”
Oh, racism is certainly at least partly to blame. After all, most of the non-white Democrats who have dropped out so far were running almost exclusively on their non-whiteness. Unfortunately for them, identity politics alone wasn’t enough.
Read more from James Fite.