Poll: Half of Americans View Primary System As Rigged and Undemocratic

Freedom_of_SpeechWe have previously discussed the bizarre situation of two candidates (Trump and Clinton) with historic negative polling numbers emerge as the frontrunners for the general election. Six out of ten voters say that they are unwilling to vote for either Trump or Clinton. Now a new poll shows that over half of American voters believe that the primary system is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want a new system for electing their leaders. What is remarkable is how detached the system appears from the voters. The GOP primary is advancing a candidate with high exceptionally negatives for the general election. In the meantime, the public is in open revolt of the “establishment” so the Democratic leadership has lined up to guarantee the selection of the candidate who is the ultimate establishment figure.  Now one-fourth of voters are saying that they will stay at home rather than vote for either of the frontrunners.

It is ironic that the GOP race appears the most responsive to voters. While Trump has huge negatives with the general population, he is clearly the anti-establishment candidate. He was able to crush a series of establishment figures and he is correct that the reason is the demand for a radical change in the system. Trump is the face of such change.

Many young people, including many of my students, view the Democratic party as a lock for the establishment this election despite its counter-establishment image from the 60s. While Clinton clearly has support among some core democratic voting groups, the independent and young voters are particularly estranged from her and the party. Many are not likely to show up in November though the Clinton camp is betting that most will ultimately come back into the fold.  Trump has already generated more votes than any Republican in history and he believes that he can produce the same record numbers in the general election.  If true, the Democratic establishment could ultimately have engineered the one candidate that might elect Donald Trump. The fact is that we simply do not know. While incredibly popular with many GOP and independent voters, Trump is wildly unpopular with many groups in the general public.   He has clearly tapped into this movement and the establishment seems in denial. Turnout is down on the Democratic side but the Democrats believe that they can win the “lesser of two evil” voters. As exciting as that uncertainty will be for commentators, the majority of voters are right: we have a system that has become dysfunctional and unresponsive to the majority of citizens.

I have previously written about reforms that we need to make in our system. However, the resistance of the establishment to change has never been more clear during this period of growing anger and unrest. The chilling fact is that these polls appear to have little impact on the parties. The isolation and unhappiness of the majority of the voters in this country seems immaterial.

While this is not a pure democratic system, it is supposed to be a representative democratic system where leaders represent the voters. It is that feeling of being unrepresented that is driving the passions and unpredictability of this election cycle.

What do you think?

94 thoughts on “Poll: Half of Americans View Primary System As Rigged and Undemocratic”

  1. Jim22:

    Everyone has to play by the U.S. Constitution, even the two major parties. Parties were never designed into the system originally and this is a valid constitutional question.

    Bernie should ask the U.S. Supreme Court to “referee” the question of: is excluding millions of voters in the New York and California primaries constitutional?

    Before the New York primary, most voters probably would have voted for Hillary if Bernie had lost in a fair process. The day after the NY primary, many Bernie voters feel cheated and many today will never vote for Clinton or Trump.

    Maybe Bernie should run as a third party?

  2. stevegroen,

    I would argue that greed stems from mans own mortality and his knowledge of its existence. Since I know I don’t want to die, I need to do things to prevent that from happening. Then, I can extend that feeling to family and community. I don’t see how someone like yourself can come to terms with what you have accomplished in your life and not be ashamed at how greedy you were to be successful. Do you have a bank account? If so, why? Why would you value it and not give it away? I would even suggest that charity is a form of greed. I volunteer as a firemen and at the local food mission and it makes me feel good to do it. If there was no greed involved I would feel indifferent towards those activities.

    Are there jerks in within the greed spectrum? well of course. It is up to the individual how he uses his greed. You point out bankers that didn’t break the law but played them to their advantage. Is it really any different than four guys named John, Paul, George and Ringo making millions by taking babysitting money from countless screaming girls only to support their drug habits and promiscuous behavior driving parents crazy? Then after making it, turn around and preach to us about living materialistic lifestyles while living in Manhattan? Man that takes some balls.

    We are all driven by greed, you are just not willing to honest with yourself about it.

  3. RB,

    Your arguments just don’t hold up. Bernie chose to run under the Dems so he has to play by their rules. If his message was so great, then he should have run on his own.

  4. Paul Schulte:

    Thanks, good point but a political party isn’t allowed to violate the U.S. Constitution under any circumstances.

    Bernie was allowed to run in the Democratic primary by the party, but not his voters? Maybe they could have required him to change his party affiliation to Democrat as a condition of running in that primary.

    The other issue: can citizens vote without committing to a party label before hearing the candidates debate each other? The New York and California systems penalize voters that refuse to wear a party label before hearing the final debates.

    Haven’t read that particular ruling but will look it up. Thanks.

  5. The “supreme law of the land”, the U.S. Constitution, does not mention the adjectives “Repubican, Democrat or Independent” – it only refers to citizens and voters.

    Constitutional amendments that expanded voting rights, allowing African-Americans, women and others held in slavery or servitude, also don’t mention political party affiliation.

    However we spin this rigged “carnival game”, the net result was millions of qualified voters in New York were excluded from the democratic process which affected the presidential election.

    I think Bernie could actually ask for “judicial review” by the U.S. Supreme Court to test the constitutionality of some state primary systems.

    1. RB – I think there is a SC case from a couple years ago that basically says that the parties can decide on their candidates any way they want.

  6. stevegroen, Jill Stein has tried to contact Sanders with a proposal for a Sanders/Stein team. No response yet. Of course, not; Sanders isn’t finished with the primary yet.

    For those who want independents to be allowed to vote, it’s the parties that make the rules, not the state government. The Democrats created the super-delegates to keep control within the party. If they thought they could get away with eliminating the primaries and just allowing the super-delegates to do the picking outright, that’s where they would go. It’s not the government that would stop them, but their registered voters. Alaska primaries were an interesting case in that you had to pick the Republican primary or the “other”. (I don’t remember if you had to be registered as a Republican.) Everyone who didn’t choose Republican got to pick and choose among all the other parties, Democrat, Green, AK independence party (don’t remember the name), Socialist, and any other that put up any candidates. IIRC, you could choose one party for one office and a different party for another office. It was like a mini general election, minus Republicans who had their own thing..

    1. bettykath, I heard that in order to run as a Democrat, Bernie has to vote for the Democratic nominee. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it sure sounds like a waiver of a constitutional right just to run for that party’s nomination.

      If that’s true, I highly doubt Bernie will make an independent run or consider Jill’s proposal.

  7. Jim22:

    Unlike Ralph Nader, who ran as a third party, Bernie chose to be a part of the Democratic Primary so he wouldn’t harm the Democrats in the general election. Bernie didn’t want to split the Democrats’ votes.

    Also “no labels” voters that may have otherwise voted for a third party, would have voted for either Democrats or Republicans if New York had allowed them to participate – ultimately benefiting the two major parties. Instead of the two parties thanking Bernie for not splitting the progressive vote, they screwed him and his supporters instead.

    If we aren’t going to overturn “Citizens United” maybe we should abolish party labels altogether? Political parties were never designed into the system originally and the Framers would have supported them only if they increased checks & balances on power. Political parties do the opposite today under Citizens United.

    It’s hard to imagine that the Framers of the Constitution would support excluding millions of voters that could affect the outcome of a presidential election.

  8. stevegroen – “If they’re private clubs, they sure are subject to a lot of public laws restricting how they function and finance their members.”

    Did these private clubs ask for these laws? If not, pointing to them as a reason seems arbitrary.

    Now, true enough, if they set up their rules and broke them, then yes the people belonging to that group have reason to whine.

    My big issue is when I hear about independants whining that they don’t have a say in the primaries. Seems kind of self explanatory why they do not have a say.

  9. stevegroen – “The only thing closely related to greed in my opinion is procreation, and I think that’s as much physiological as anything.”

    Really? Did you go to college? Do you own a house? Are you employed? Why would you do any of these things if not for greed? Did you get a job so you could take from your employer and give it all to someone else?

    I’ve never known another primate outside of humans that understood it was alive.

    1. Jim22 writes, “stevegroen – ‘The only thing closely related to greed in my opinion is procreation, and I think that’s as much physiological as anything.’

      Really? Did you go to college? Do you own a house? Are you employed? Why would you do any of these things if not for greed? Did you get a job so you could take from your employer and give it all to someone else?”

      What you’re talking about is learned greed. Education based on merit is not greed, but capitalist profiteering and Ayn Rand types have made it that way.

      Liars loans and packaging and selling them as highly-rated securities to schmucks who are betting large against them in the derivatives market are the perfect example of greed in the marketplace. Yet you call it a virtue. I pity your soul.

  10. stevegroen:
    “Think about the Iraq War. Why?”

    Answer. Excerpt from the preface:
    “Here is my latest attempt to set the record straight on Operation Iraqi Freedom by synthesizing the primary sources of the mission, including the Gulf War ceasefire UN Security Council resolutions that set the “governing standard of Iraqi compliance” (UNSCR 1441), the US law and policy to “bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations” (P.L. 105-235), the conditions and precedents that set the stage for OIF, and the determinative fact findings of Iraq’s breach of ceasefire that triggered enforcement, to explain the law and policy, fact basis – i.e., the why – of the decision for OIF.”

    1. Eric, thanks again for the formal language.

      As I mentioned last time you quoted it, the only concern was nuke capability with bio-chem allegations sprinkled on for good measure, and Bush’s cronies had plenty of experts testify before Congress that it was more than possible that Hussein had them or was very near having them based on the evidence, when the evidence was woefully lacking. It was an excuse to invade.

      Why would we want to invade? Apart from appeasing our 51st state and its political campaign donors, whoever controls the oil controls the marketplace for it along with the currency it’s traded in. If it isn’t traded in dollars, we can’t print valueless paper and make it valuable simply by making it and lots of help from our military. If we can’t print paper which turns into something valuable, then the government can’t pay its creditors and that double digit national debt becomes insurmountable,

      And that’s why we continue to this day to slaughter people over there.

      Does this make sense to you?

  11. Jim22 writes, “The Dems and Reps are private clubs and they can set up their rules how ever they want.”

    If they’re private clubs, they sure are subject to a lot of public laws restricting how they function and finance their members.

    No one should whine when they don’t comply with the law? Do you think any of the alleged vote suppression, if true, would have been solely the work of those outside those parties?

  12. stevegroen,

    I would argue that yes, greed is a virtue. With out it there would be no drive in life and no reason to wake up in the morning and do anything. I used to love the song, “Imagine” by John Lennon until I really listened to what he was saying. His world view in that song sounds like such a boring place to live. I couldn’t imagine a life worth living where I didn’t feel like being creative or improving myself. But then again, Lennon didn’t mind taking in the royalties from his creative mind that made songs like “imagine”. He also didn’t mind leaving his home country to avoid the 95% and up taxes.

  13. Karen writes, “The basic human instinct is for capitalism. A little old lady will take in kids to babysit, sell eggs, mend clothes, sell an extra goat, or whatever. Anyone with any time or skills will try to sell them to earn more money and better their lot in life. And in truly socialist countries, this is considered evil and illegal and your neighbors will turn you in. . . . Just research how many families languish in the UK council housing waiting list, where you need an ever increasing amount of points in order to get permanent housing. Helpless forever. And that’s on the early, nanny side of things. . . . Capitalism has raised more people out of poverty globally than any other system, bar none. Socialism, on the other hand, makes permanent helpless dependents out of everyone. . . . When the USSR fell, the people were completely helpless about how to support themselves. . . .”

    Your assertion that “basic human instinct is for capitalism” is revisionist propaganda. In terms of a basic economic model, I think it has more to do with trade, not the profit from trade. You give me what I want and I’ll give you what you determine to be a fair trade. Capitalism, on the other hand and without any moral or ethical code (as long as you don’t screw the people who own the company you work for), seeks the most advantage from the trade no matter how it is attained. It is the exact opposite of what you’re saying it is. It is not “basic human instinct.”

    Does an innocent child take more for himself or herself than for his or her friend if there’s enough to share? I’d guess you’d say yes, but I say no.

    Regarding definitions of capitalism and socialism you bring up the USSR as the poster child of socialism. It wasn’t. It was simply totalitarian state capitalism whereby the state owned everything and employed everyone and profited from it. Take away the authoritarian control, and it was sort of like the University of California or the University of Wisconsin or any state system of higher education – it owns its facilities and employs its staff and labor. China’s communist label isn’t accurate either as its is the second largest economy by state capitalism gradually ceding the right to a now large private capitalist sector, all under authoritarian control.

    Think about the Iraq War. Why?
    The Korean War. Why?
    The Vietnam War. Why?
    The Second World War. Why?
    The Second Sino-Japanese War. Why?
    The Spanish-American War. Why?

    Think about the Syrian diaspora to Europe. Why?
    Think about the 50 people including three physicians at a pediatric hospital killed two days ago in air attacks in Aleppo, Syria. You’d think it was Gaza.

    The worst facet of capitalism is that it continues to give license to the draconian social policy of stratification, epitomized in the new $20 bill. Harriet Tubman, who despised capitalists, represents the backbone of capitalism – slaves – while Andrew Jackson on her backside represents the landed gentry who own them.

    The Ayn Rand capitalist crowd thinks greed a virtue, and we wonder why there’s never been greater income disparity in the US.

  14. stevegroen,
    I believe that the inter state high way system was proposed to allow rapid movement of military equipment. It wasn’t about making sure there was a Wal Mart at every exit.

    Also, I don’t understand what all of the whining is here about the primary system(s). The Dems and Reps are private clubs and they can set up their rules how ever they want. On top of that, those who still believe in states rights (which are getting more and more diminished as the feds get bigger) should not want the govt. stepping in telling how they should run their primaries.

    n the end, if the independants (of which I am registered as) don’t like the system, then form your own party with your own rules and stop whining.

    1. Jim22: The only thing closely related to greed in my opinion is procreation, and I think that’s as much physiological as anything. And even then, there are primates that would rather eat tender bamboo shoots and give their nuptial benediction than attack a rival invading the band.

  15. Stevegroen:

    I mean all voters, of all parties, in all places – including Brooklyn. If there were a “citizen-based” system of campaign financing, Bernie beats all other candidates of both parties by large margins.

    New York’s primary election excluded millions of voters from the democratic process and California has a similar system. Bernie usually wins 50-60% of those excluded voters in fair primary elections.

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  17. Labels are misleading. If you study the facts, Bernie’s proposals are more fiscally conservative than Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower’s tax rates for the richest Americans. If Bernie is a “socialist” that would make Eisenhower an “ultra-socialist” using a fact-based measuring stick.

    Misleading labels have also been used against Obama’s health plan, Obamacare, which is far more conservative than Republican Richard Nixon’s plan. Bernie’s healthcare proposal is very similar to Nixon’s plan of universal healthcare.

    Over the past 60 years the nation has dramatically swung to the right with higher income inequality levels but the misleading “labels” haven’t changed with the times.

    Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, Robert Reich, made a documentary titled “Inequality for All” where he highlights that today our nation’s income inequality is alarmingly similar to the level leading up to the Great Depression in the 1920’s (when consumers lost purchasing power). Although Reich worked for Bill Clinton’s administration, he is supporting Bernie Sanders economic proposals.

  18. Also too the system is rigged. After the populace nominated George McGovern in 72 and the Dems lost in a landslide they decided that “never again” meant for them that they had to wrest control of the nominating party from the hands of the people and get it back in the hands of the party insiders. Hence the superdelegate process. The Republicans prefer to seize control by voter suppression methods, screaming about non-existent voter fraud, purging the roles, trying to implement new poll taxes and bring back their other favorites from the Jim Crow era.
    We need a revolution, and not the kind Drumpf has in mind, a revolution of the people, by the people, for the people. And I mean real people, not corporate people.

  19. Who was that political theorist who talked about “convergence”– where capitalism and communism meld together. Kind of like Bernie and Trump.

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