Readers on Sanders #1

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TPM Reader SF says I’m discounting the many informal but still real ways in which the game really has been ‘rigged’ against Sanders. My response would be that these are simply another way of saying Clinton is well-known, connected, popular with Democrats, etc. Of course she that means she goes in with an advantage. This is why change is change. Even by the most sympathetic interpretation, the status quo always has inherent advantages. All that said, here’s SF

campaign to turn to Super Delegates. At the same time, I think you consistently ignore a couple of very powerful dynamics here. I know you’re not in love with Hilary, I’ve read your site daily since you started and I know you have deep reservations about Hilary, so I’m not coming from a place of saying you’re in the tank for her. But I do think you ignore some huge factors. One is the degree to which all those super delegates picking Hilary early on and thereby making her the front runner in the media, polls, etc. served as a self fulfilling prophecy. As you well know people want to vote for a winner. The Super Delegates allowed Hilary to jump out to a huge early lead which in turn supported numerous media outlets calling the Sanders campaign “insurgent,” “long shot,” etc. So to a degree all of these Super Delegates lining up for Hilary created a self fulfilling prophecy.

There are other aspects of the game being “rigged” aside from the caucus system. For example, our educational systems in this country are so poor relative to other economically wealthy countries. We spend more per student than all but 4 small countries but generally rank in about 30th place for results. I believe many American voters lack even a rudimentary understanding of our system of government. My favorite example like yours is: “Keep government out of my Medicare!.” Do you still have that photo? Other examples: a widespread belief among Republican voters that the PBS television budget accounts for more than 50% of US Government spending. A recent study showing 30% of Republican voters and over 40% of Trump voters want us to bomb Agrabah, the imaginary city in the Disney move Aladdin. But a lot of Dems want to bomb it too… Louisiana Republicans insist that President Obama, and not G.W. Bush, was responsible for a slow response to Katrina, “…heck of a job, Brownie.” I could go on and on for probably as many pages as TPM publishes in a year if I didn’t have to work.

Now, I’ve focused on education. But I think the media also play a huge role in this. And one of the reasons I love TPM so much is I feel you’re the only outlet that does make some attempts to call out the media on bogus processes they use to create stories that simply leave the American people uninformed about the issues. Yes, we know Dr. Ben Carson believes the Egyptians stored grain in the pyramids, thank God, and that he may or may not have attacked various people with hammers and knives before having an experience with Jesus in a restroom. All well and good, thanks. But what about the real issues that effect us? We learn very little. Basically, campaigns have been reduced to straight out popularity contests. Which is great if you have the best known name, your supporters have the biggest checkbooks, or you have a talent for wrangling free media like a circus mogul. And it is in that environment that the voters vote, whether it be by caucus or primary or whatever else you could invent. And even if you had a process right now that would make it so that every eligible American voted every time there was an opportunity to do so, there was no fraud, no vote suppression, and votes were all counted flawlessly I would have to say that the game would still be rigged in many ways simply because the vast majority of people didn’t learn as young men and women their responsibilities as citizens and our media fail utterly at informing us of how to exercise such responsibilities. So everyone would vote, it would be extremely “democratic” but the results, I submit, would still be total crap. GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) as computer programmers say.

You’re great Josh. You and your team do an amazing job. But it’s not a substitute for having people like Walter Cronkite and Edward Murrow who speak to the vast majority of Americans who aren’t political geeks and who actually inform people on the real issues and leave all this National Enquirer garbage that is now what is basically covered 24/7/365 by all the “news” media to the actual National Enquirer and their ilk.

I don’t see any way for Sanders to win. I agree with you that he should try to work toward some sort of unity rather than a battle at the convention. But I also agree with him that Hilary, the DNC and the Super Delegates did rig things against him a lot more than you admit. It may not matter now for the Sanders campaign. But it does matter for the future of our small “d” democracy. And while I know that TPM works harder on behalf of the Republic you and I both cherish than I do and I certainly have no right to call you out or criticize you I would love to see you change the way you’re looking at the Sanders campaign and to admit some of the real ways in which the Clintons and the DNC did rig the system against him and look at ways we might be able to improve things for the future. Sure, I support you on ending caucuses, but it’s not enough by any means.

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