HRC truly should be the last presidential candidate to be produced by the party dynamic that emerged in the aftermath of Walter Mondale’s disastrous candidacy in 1984, and which gained strength throughout the 1980s and eventually reached its culmination in the presidency of Bill Clinton. One of the lasting institutions produced by that dynamic is the concept of superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention. Repeatedly on the stump, Sanders has railed against this system as having been designed to frustrate insurgent candidacies like his. There is no real argument to be mustered against this because Sanders is absolutely right.
FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAS HAD AN EXISTENTIAL TERROR OF INSURGENT CANDIDACIES.
The system was designed precisely in order to maintain party discipline from the top down. Democratic panjandrums were terrified of how George McGovern had “hijacked” the convention rules process at the end of the 1960s; those changes helped produce McGovern’s own nomination in 1972. The results of that election struck terror in the heart of the leadership of the party. It kickstarted the New Democrat movement that produced the Democratic Leadership Council—which, ultimately, produced Bill Clinton. In between, however, the institutional Democratic Party committed itself to predictable, safe politics. It invented Super Tuesday in order to maximize the influence of conservative southern Democrats, only to have Jesse Jackson demolish that strategy in 1988. For more than 40 years, the Democratic party has had an existential terror of insurgent candidacies.
In fact, it thoroughly reinvented itself principally to eliminate the possibility. In 2008, finally, Barack Obama and his campaign found ways to hack the system from within because the institutions of the party had made it virtually impossible to do it from outside. Meanwhile, of course, due to the gradual encroachment of the prion disease into its higher functions, the Republican Party apparatus became nothing but insurgencies, one after another—from Pat Buchanan submarining George H.W. Bush to the rise this year of He, Trump. This produced a serious enthusiasm imbalance between the two parties.
Americans Don’t Read… and that’s Affecting our Elections
In 2013, the Nation’s Report Card showed that only 38% of high school seniors were proficient in reading. With scores like that, the U.S. isn’t likely to earn the “most literate country” award any time soon.
So what is America’s international literacy ranking? According to The Washington Post, the U.S. places seventh behind Nordic countries such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Such a score is obtained by looking at newspaper circulation and readership, library availability, education access, reading scores, and computer usage in each nation.
The Washington Post bemoans the fact that the leading nation of the free world ranks so low in such an important area. And well they should, particularly as the following U.S. literacy statistics are even more alarming:
Only 13% of adults can read at a proficient level.
28% of adults didn’t read a book in the last year.
50% of adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.
But so what, right? In our enlightened digital age, what harm does it really bring if American literacy is tanking?
A lot of harm, according to John Adams, particularly when it comes to elections. In 1761, he noted:
“The very Ground of our Liberties, is the freedom of Elections. Every Man has in Politicks as well as Religion, a Right to think and speak and Act for himself. No man either King or Subject, Clergyman or Layman has any Right to dictate to me the Person I shall choose for my Legislator and Ruler. I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any Man judge, unless his Mind has been opened and enlarged by Reading. A Man who can read, will find in his Bible, in the common sermon Books that common People have by them and even in the Almanack and News Papers, Rules and observations, that will enlarge his Range of Thought, and enable him the better to judge who has and who has not that Integrity of Heart, and that Compass of Knowledge and Understanding, which form the Statesman.”
Considering the state of the 2016 election, would you say it’s high time for Americans to step up their literacy game?