The system is rigged. Well, at least Donald Trump thinks so. So does Bernie Sanders. And so do many others during this election season. But maybe the system has always been rigged.
Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for president, has been battling the Republican establishment throughout this political campaign. While winning the popular vote in the majorities of the primaries, he is in a battle to get enough delegates to actually win the nomination at the Republican Convention in July. He thinks that those in the system are using unfair tactics inorder to stop him. This came to a head after Ted Cruz was recently able to maneuver and get all the delegates from Colorado.
“The system is rigged, it’s crooked,” Trump said on Fox News afterward. “The people out there are going crazy, in the Denver area and Colorado itself, and they’re going absolutely crazy because they weren’t given a vote. This was given by politicians – it’s a crooked deal.”
Bernie Sanders is chasing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. In a recent Sanders campaign commercial, the announcer states, “The ultra-rich employ an army of lobbyists to write tax policy to avoid paying their fair share. It’s a part of the corrupt political system that keeps in place a rigged economy. Where Wall Street buys out elections and stops meaningful oversight.” While not naming Clinton directly, the voiceover then states that politicians receive over $200,000 an hour to speak to Wall Street firms. Hillary Clinton received over $625,000 in speaking fees from Wall Street after she was Secretary of State and before she started her campaign for president.
Then there is the problem of Bernie Sanders and the Democratic “superdelegates.” Democratic superdelegates are primarily elected officials and party bosses who are not bound by any voting or caucuses, and are free to vote for whomever presidential candidate they choose. Since they are the established party leaders, they are overwhelmingly voting for the establishment Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, much to the dismay of Sanders and his supporters. No matter how well Sanders does in the primaries, it will be almost impossible for him to get the nomination because of Clinton’s superdelegate advantage.
So, it seems like the Republican establishment is doing what it can to keep Donald Trump from getting the Republican presidential nomination. And it seems like the Democratic establishment is doing what it can to keep Bernie Sanders from getting the Democratic nomination. Why? It’s pretty simple. The establishment, whether Democratic or Republican, wants to stay established. They want to remain in power, and will use that power and authority to make rules and procedures inorder to remain so.
But is the system “rigged?” To say it is rigged would be to imply that there is illegal activity. To say that it is illegal may be too strong. Senator Rand Paul, when asked about the primary process, said it wasn’t illegal, but it was “biased and weighted” toward the political establishment. And that makes it difficult for an outsider, and Donald and Bernie are definitely outsiders, to gain a foothold in the political process.
It’s interesting that there have been only two major political parties in the United States for over 150 years. Since before the Civil War, the Democratic and Republican Parties have controlled the political process, and therefore, have controlled governmental power in this country. Occasionally, outsiders and outside groups have challenged their power, and sometimes each party has had to amend their processes and ideals inorder to accommodate those outsiders. But in the end, the establishment has always managed to maintain its power.
This political season, you will often hear politicians and others talk about so-called Democratic and Republican ideals and their causes. But, like any other organization, their overriding purpose is the one that has kept both parties going for 150 years. It’s the continuation and growth of the organization itself. The system’s main goal is to keep the system going and growing. It may not be rigged or crooked, but it is still the system. And it’s hard to beat the system. But Donald and Bernie are giving it a shot.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org