The media is very focused on the day-to-day minutiae and outrages of the presidential race, but it’s worth taking a step back to point out that the biggest outrage of all is looming in plain sight.
Yes, Donald Trump is a terrible human and a farcical presidential candidate who would be a disaster for America and the world. But who has the ultimate duty to affirm that? The voters in the Republican primary. That is how democracy works. The ideal of American democracy, flawed though it may be, is far more important than any one election.
[“But we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a Republic.” Hey, fuck off! Get in the American spirit!]
People are acting outraged about many things this election cycle, as they should be, because many outrageous things have been said. But one thing that is not drawing a lot of outrage is the fact that the Republican Party is openly plotting to steal the nomination from the candidate that receives the most votes. Hell, there are only three men left in the race, and one of them, John Kasich, is openly campaigning on the strategy of “Throw me the nomination at the convention, popular vote be damned.” Even candidates who have already dropped out of the race are pitching in their delegates for the express purpose of thwarting the will of the public. This is all reported as normal horse race politics. In fact, it should be criminal.
All of the feel-good democratic ideals that politicians like to brag about tend to shield the anti-democratic aspects of our system of government. The Senate is purposely anti-democratic. The electoral college exists solely as a mechanism to allow elites to circumvent the public will. As long as the public perceives things as functioning “normally,” nobody gives these barriers to their will a second thought. But when they are put into use—when Senators from tiny states use their disproportionate power to warp our government’s priorities, or when a president gets elected without winning the popular vote—people momentarily throw up their hands in dismay. “That’s fucked up!” they cry.
They are correct. It is fucked up. The outrage, though, has never been sustained long enough to actually change the system.
Now, we are faced with the impending use of another anti-democratic tool: nomination rules that allow political parties to baldly go against the voters in picking the party’s presidential nominee. Donald Trump is a bad man. But if we hold an entire country’s worth of state primaries and caucuses that clearly demonstrate the will of Republican voters to nominate Donald Trump, then Donald Trump should be the nominee of that awful party. (Then he should lose the election.) That’s democracy at work. For the political establishment to use procedural maneuvers to steal the nomination is not just a single, discrete occurrence of sophisticates beating the rubes by using arcane knowledge. It is a representative example of the sickening contempt that those who possess power hold for the public. We all know that America is an oligarchy with a corrupt campaign finance system; but the basis for trying to reform the broken parts of our system is the belief that the larger national democracy is worth saving. Naked power grabs do not inspire confidence.
Here we have one of America’s major political parties publicly preparing to demonstrate that it does not care what most of its voters think. This is the kind of thing that makes average people suspect that the whole idea of America even possessing democratic values is a sham. This is the kind of thing that proves their suspicion correct. This is the kind of thing that makes people want to break shit. This is the kind of thing that makes people want to smash the system. This is the kind of thing that demonstrates the system deserves to be smashed.