Posted in Communicating for Social Change, Political communication

Suppressing the Vote

In a democracy, voting is supposed to be the way that citizens’ voices are heard so that  differences at the policy level can be aired, considered and resolved. It is also, supposedly, one way that orderly and democratic social change occurs. Moreover, a functioning democracy requires that citizens believe that their votes matter.

That belief, already on life support since 2010, took another major hit last night when the AP announced that Hillary Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee and that the Democratic primary was over. Six states are scheduled to vote today: California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The District of Columbia is scheduled to vote on June 14. Citizens in every one of these states have just been told, don’t bother, your voice does not matter. It has all been decided. We really don’t need you. I wonder what the record number of voters who registered in California, so that they could vote today, think of this?  More to the point, though, I am outraged.  Glenn Greenwald expresses my reaction better than I could myself:

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary. The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identity the media organization – incredibly – conceals. The decisive edifice of super-delegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that their nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward and undemocratic sputter.

Suppressing the vote is now an equal opportunity sport. It can no longer be laid solely at the feet of the Republican party.  This primary season has revealed that both political parties have dirty hands, and that the media — which are supposed to function as  watchdogs on the powerful — are actively complicit. If there is any doubt that America has become an oligarchy, it can now be put to rest.

The most important question for the 2016 election season may not be which party or candidate wins, but rather, how do American citizens reclaim their voices and reclaim democracy?

Greenwald, G. (2016, June 7). Perfect end to Democratic Primary: Anonymous super-delegates declare winner through media. Common Dreams. Retrieved from

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