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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2039

The problem with American democracy

By Habib Siddiqui

The 2016 American presidential election and its result have been odd by any standard. No one expected Donald Trump, a man who never ran a single public office in his life, to be chosen by the GOP as its candidate and then win the election defeating Hillary Clinton.

The latter, even on the very day of voting, was touted as the presumptive winner until almost midnight when it was clear that she could not win the states like Florida and Pennsylvania where it was necessary. But more importantly, even the Democratic Party was not fair in its path to nominating Mrs. Clinton. The party insiders have long been accused of showing favoritism to her and that Bernie Sanders was cheated out of the system. Even the questions during the 1-to-1 debate were leaked out to Clinton! Primary election was rigged, true to Trump's accusations.

Democracy is becoming a joke these days strengthening despots everywhere who had come into power - not by coup though but through democratic election and using all means imaginable now to stay in power! I wish the USA had shown the path to true democracy. Alas, it has miserably failed in that vital task. Tired of the bickering 2-party politics, they ended up choosing an immoral person with all the inklings of a would-be-fascist.

Shame on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that let Bernie Sanders to be sidelined in favor of Hillary Clinton in the primary elections! That lingering wound was ripped open again when Donna Brazile, the former DNC interim chairman, alleged in Politico (as she tries to sell a new book) that Clinton had executed a "secret takeover" of the DNC while the 2016 primary race was in its infancy. Brazile's allegation is reminiscent of a talking point in Bernie Sanders circles in 2015 and 2016, putting to rest the assertions about collusion between the DNC with the Hillary campaign.

Donna Brazile, in her excerpt, described the DNC's deal with the Clinton campaign as a "cancer."

"I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any," she wrote, saying she had undertaken the review in response to concerns from Clinton's insurgent primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "Then I found this agreement."

The victory fund agreement was reached by the DNC under the leadership of Brazile's predecessor as chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, dozens of state parties and Clinton’s campaign to divide money among the state parties and the campaign. According to Brazile, the agreement was signed in August 2015, four months after Clinton announced her candidacy and a year before she won the nomination.

“The funding arrangement ... was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical,” Brazile said in her excerpt.

The Democratic National Committee struck a deal with Hillary Clinton in 2015 that gave her campaign input on some party hiring and spending decisions, but required they be related only to preparations for the general election, according to a memo obtained by NBC News. It also left the door open for other candidates to make similar arrangements.

The document provides more context to the explosive claims made by former DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile in a forthcoming book, an excerpt of which was published this week.

The August 26, 2015, memorandum of understanding from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey details the relationship between Clinton's campaign and the DNC long before she won her party's nomination.

In exchange for Hillary for America's (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the party committee agreed "that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research."

President Trump seized on the account by Donna Brazile.

"The real story on Collusion is in Donna B's new book. Crooked Hillary bought the DNC & then stole the Democratic Primary from Crazy Bernie!,” the president tweeted Friday morning.

"Pocahontas just stated that the Democrats, lead [read ‘led’] by the legendary Crooked Hillary Clinton, rigged the Primaries! Lets [read – let’s] go FBI & Justice Dept.,” he added, using a racially-charged epithet for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Trump's cries of collusion between Clinton and the DNC came just days after two former top aides to the POTUS were charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe investigating his campaign's ties to Russia. Another former campaign adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

"Bernie Sanders supporters have every right to be apoplectic of the complete theft of the Dem primary by Crooked Hillary!,” the president, who signed a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee two months before he was officially selected as the nominee, tweeted. "I always felt I would be running and winning against Bernie Sanders, not Crooked H, without cheating, I was right.”

Both Sanders and Warren responded to Trump on Twitter Friday, arguing his tweets were an attempt to change the subject and saying they wouldn't let him distract them from keeping the focus on his own policies.

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minn., now the DNC's deputy chair, said in a statement that Brazile's account cannot be dismissed and many in the party "still feel hurt and betrayed" by the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

"We must heed the call for our party to enact real reforms that ensure a fair, open and impartial nominating process in elections to come," he said.

Tom Perez, the current DNC chair, also said he wants a "culture change" in the committee, noting in a letter to DNC members this week after Brazile's story was published that "even a perception of impropriety — whether real or not— is detrimental to the DNC as an institution."

There is no doubt that perception is important in politics and that the DNC must do its best to avoid such problems from brewing in the future. I, for one, do believe that if Bernie had ran on the Democratic ticket, he would have beaten Trump squarely. But we shall never know that because of the ‘cancer’ within the DNC that Brazile now complains about in her upcoming book!

While the revelation is too late for us to avoid seeing Trump inside the White House, perhaps a major lesson learned from this experience is that like anything in our time even democracy is on sale, and can be manipulated easily by determined folks – both inside and outside the USA (including those in Russia)! That is the worrisome news for all those who believe – perhaps wrongly - that the USA remains the last best hope for genuine democracy in our planet.

- Asian Tribune -

The problem with American democracy
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