Democrats are not Democratic

After his disastrous debate with Donald Trump, Joe Biden has faced calls from Democrats and the media to drop out of the race or even to resign the presidency. As I explained in a recent podcast, forcing him out is extremely difficult. However, that hasn’t stopped a media campaign to push him out by hook or by crook.

The New York Times editorial board recently suggested it was time for Biden to step down, while TV comedian Jon Stewart called for an open convention. Just this morning, actor George Clooney said the party needed a new nominee. Isn’t it an odd look for the Democratic Party, which is always talking about our sacred democracy, to openly call for forcibly removing the sitting Democratic president from both his office and the ballot?

Not if you know the history of the Democratic Party.

Today’s Democratic Party traces its lineage back to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, though lately they’ve downplayed that heritage as they attempt to cancel both former presidents for being white male slaveowners. Jefferson’s faction was a more populist reaction to the aristrocratic Federalists of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, while Jackson’s was a reaction against the one party rule of James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Jackson’s election occurred at the same time that voting became widely allowed for non-landowners.

Nevertheless, the Democratic Party ultimately strayed from its populist roots. In the 1860 election, Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln did not even appear on the ballot in most southern states, and during Reconstruction southern Democrats fought to keep freed slaves from voting. In New York, a Democratic political machine called Tammany Hall used newly-arrived immigrants to win elections, maintaining a stranglehold on state politics until the 1960s.

In 1933, Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt demanded Congress give him unprecedented emergency powers which gave his administration the authority to micromanage American people and businesses. When the Supreme Court ruled parts of his New Deal unconstitutional, he threatened to pack the court with sycophants. He even broke George Washington’s precedent of stepping down after two terms, winning a third and then a fourth before dying in office. Who in 1933 knew that they were electing a president for life?

In 1968, with incumbent president Lyndon Johnson declining to run due to his unpopularity, the Democratic National Convention was a free-for-all. Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination had thrown the race into turmoil, so with violent protests raging outside, delegates inside traded favors hoping to find a candidate who could defeat Richard Nixon. They eventually nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, despite him not having won a single primary.

Following this debacle, the Democrats created a commission to figure out how to make their nomination process more democratic. They implemented new rules regarding how many delegates allocated to each state as well as opening up the delegate selection process, which caused most states to switch from caucuses to primaries. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, who chaired the commission, resigned in 1971 to run for president where he was defeated by Nixon in one of the largest landslides in American history.

By 1982, having just lost another landslide to Ronald Reagan, Democrats worried that their presidential nomination process was too democratic. They instituted new rules giving party officials the status of superdelegates, who would act as unpledged delegates at the convention. This would enable the party establishment to better control the party’s nominees. During the 2016 primary, superdelegates overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, leading many Sanders supporters to believe that the system was hopelessly rigged.

As of today, Joe Biden has 99% of pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. He won every single primary, save American Samoa which went to Jason Palmer by a vote of 51-40. Biden received 14.5 million votes nationwide, accounting for 87.1% of Democratic primary voters. According to every rule in the book, as well as the unwritten principles of democracy, Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee. The idea that a handful of delegates in Chicago (the same site as the disastrous 1968 convention, ironically) should override the will of the Democrat rank-and-file is decidedly contrary to their stated principles that the people should decide.

Of course, we all know that the constant cries of “democracy” are merely cover for an oligarchic and technocratic system, a rule by experts who know better than the common man. If the Democratic Party manages to oust its own president, then perhaps it’s time for the party of Jefferson and Jackson to change its name to something more appropriate.

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