On Being Super

The state of the empire is a bit wobbly these days, my dears, and sometimes a little snip comes along that illustrates. For instance, To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee has passed away at 89, but not before driving a stake through the magnificent heart of beloved character Atticus Finch. The recent release of her follow-up novel paints the lawyer as holding typical Southern (racist) attitudes about black folks; but studies note that our initial emotional response to an individual holds, even if we find later that they are not what they seem. So despite Scout’s shocking reflections on her father’s later years, Atticus remains a literary hero in our minds, a man of dignity and honor.


Apparently this ‘first blush’ business also worked for George W. in South Carolina this week, although it will probably be little help for brother Jeb, who continues to sink in the polls.

It also seems to be working for Donald, whose followers find him decisive, bold, charismatic and just what they’re looking for in a reality star — strike that — president.

He’s set to sweep SC and likely be declared unstoppable by the talking heads, who were sure he’d never make it this far.

Actually, it’s been a ride getting off the SCOTUS bus this week, which hasn’t slowed once since Scalia died with (or without, who knows) a pillow on his head. There hasn’t been much oxygen for anything but the judicial nomination since, along with the political bullshittery that keeps the pundits and politicos buzzing, like McCain answering that he couldn’t say if Cruz was an actual citizen, or Trump announcing that he didn’t know if Obama had murdered Scalia.

Climbing over the detritus of anti-papist, pro-racist, liar-liar-pants-on-fire commentary to try to find blue sky has been a challenge, and cutting through the acrimony and rhetoric to isolate a topic this week took some doing. Unable to get a grip on much, I’m going big again. Let’s talk about the wrinkle in establishment politics known as ‘superdelegates’ — but first, some perspective.

The same kind of Federalist notion that made Scalia the bane of progressive jurisprudence is at play in the remaining 50 states of America, poised on selecting a presidential candidate. With each state acting according to its demographic idiosyncrasies, insider power trades, and individual electoral process, we’re airing our shaky union of cats in a bag once again, which in truth has always has been a fragile exercise.

This is why Ben grumped about a republic, if we can keep it. Thirteen entities coming to agreement was dicey back in the day. Fifty-two is chaotic, and a republic is only as functional as its shared commonalities, while its perceived differences produce challenges like, say, the Civil War.

With most of the population within those states divided in their political philosophy — as cleanly as if they’d been separated at birth with a sharp knife — there are literally two Americas, with two sets of candidates talking about completely different issues, interests, and ideologies. As Planet Waves readers are well aware, it has been estimated that we are as politically and culturally divided today as we were in 1968, when the young and the old eyed one another, seeming strangers, over a deep divide.

As Eric has indicated, the death of Scalia coincided with the end of the “anti-Sixties” cycle; and we find ourselves at a threshold now, looking to reclaim some common thread going forward. And while most of us are scratching our heads over the surreal qualities of finding similarity in the unlikely pairing of populist candidates Bernie Sanders and (the anti-Sanders) Donald Trump, those who are not disturbed by the deep dysfunction of the United States government are, in my opinion, even more bewildering to me.

Not everyone is bemused by this rise in populism. In fact, the system itself is pinging like a pinball machine on tilt. Enter the established political institution that will do everything in its power to stop that push for populism.

Establishment politics is nothing new, certainly, but it had a bit of a hiatus during the middle of the last century, lulling the American public into relative confidence in its leaders, and the checks and balances placed on their power. That all went out the window when Saint Ronnie the Reagan fabricated the greedy welfare queen, but the wobble started off with Nixon’s infamous ‘southern strategy‘.

The steady erosion of trust in government might better have been squarely placed on the long string of rules and regulations passed by legislators to protect themselves, but was instead sold as an unethical redistribution of wealth by canny conservative think-tanks and pundits, separating the blue states from the red along racial lines that continue to hold today. This is that petri dish in which the likes of the Trumpeteers, maddened by the sound of Donald’s nativist dog whistle, were hatched and nurtured.

While the Republicans will likely have a contested convention — which is another story — my focus today is on the Clinton superdelegates who, we keep reading, have already defined the winner on the left.

During the Carter nomination in 1980, the Dems had begun to worry about the electability of populist nominees. Sound familiar? It should. Much as establishment politicians are doing all they can to bat down any hint that Bernie could not just compete but win the nomination today, Dems during that period decided to put their fingers on the scale of the will of the people, adding a bit of gravitas to the opinion of ‘cooler heads’ (theirs, of course).

Carving out a portion of delegates with unequal influence, the Dems (and only the Dems, thank you) established superdelegates as counter-weight to those acting in the interest of the people rather than the system. And yes, Mrs. Clinton, who may well pull off the nomination, was certainly in the belly of the beast as Third Way — and triangulation — was established:

Back in 1992, Al From and the Democratic Leadership Council fundamentally changed the Democratic party with a “bloodless coup” that put Bill Clinton in the White House and replaced the Democratic agenda of FDR, JFK and LBJ with the agendas of Wall Street and global corporations.

Since then, the party ranks have been filled with third-way corporate Democrats and lobbyists.

And many of them, particularly the lobbyists, have become unelected superdelegates, despite their blatant ties to corporate America.

There are 712 superdelegates, which accounts for approximately 30 percent of the 2,382 needed to win the nomination. These delegates can cross popular lines to throw their vote where they choose. Hillary’s people have already formulated their plans, their spokesman vowing, “Our campaign strategy is to build a lead with pledged delegates,” and they most assuredly have. If you count the movers and shakers in your corner, state wins for Bernie may not mean all that much.

I don’t want to be too cynical about what that win would look like in a Commander-in-Chief. Hillary has been pretty good about meeting the progressives on their terms, but if you listen to establishment pundits, they all agree she’ll reverse course if she gets the nod. The trade agreement, for instance, was her baby. Odds are she’ll return to its arms. She has a history, yadda.

Over at Digby’s blog, see this exchange from CNN with Jake Tapper and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whose tenure as DNC leader has come under close scrutiny, given her pro-Hillary stand and establishment bona fides — in case you needed further clarification about a rigged system (what WAS she thinking!):

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton lost to Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire by 22 percentage points, the biggest victory in a contested Democratic primary there since John F. Kennedy. But it looks as though Sanders and Clinton are leaving the Granite State with the same number of delegates in their pockets because Clinton has the support of New Hampshire’s superdelegates, these party insiders.

What do you tell voters who are new to the process who say this makes them feel like it’s all rigged?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Let me just make sure I can clarify what was available during the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates [superdelegates] are a separate category. … Unpledged delegates exist, really, to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists.

So, as Debbie is wont to do, something fell out of her mouth that flew in the face of democratic principle, but since we’ve encoded it into party policy, who cares? The establishment has long since co-opted all those things we think should matter in favor of what works to keep the “ship of state” steaming along toward corporate profit, unfettered capitalism, and ‘American interests’.

Superdelegates are divvied up based on special interests, and hardly anyone is immune. I’m not here to demonize them. They are, seems to me, simply buttering their bread as they can, which shakes out to the American way, or at least the “I’ve got mine” American way that has replaced the principles of shared commonwealth and FDR progressivism.

We created the monster with decades of pro-business laws and policies, of capitulation to the center, of PR campaigns to muddle our thought process and create doubt and fear. We created the monster, and it’s upon us, now, to make the necessary changes that dissolve it.

I was saddened to learn that Howard Dean, who now represents a health care lobby for companies like Pfizer and Merck, has pledged with Hillary but that was not unexpected, given his post-political moderation. What WAS unexpected, perhaps, was the Political Action Committee he established years ago, Democracy for America, giving its support to Sanders based on votes of 88 percent of its 200,000 members. Mrs. Clinton only got 10 percent of the vote.

When the average citizen feels outrage over the specifics of the TransPacific Partnership being decided among an elite few, secretly and with the help of lobbyists and corporate legal-eagles, they have to understand that we’re not talking about something extraordinary — we’re only talking about establishment politics. Nothing to see here, move along — and because that’s worked before, powerful interests and an entrenched plutocracy seem to think that will work again. Ask Wasserman-Schultz, who jealously guards her little piece of the pie while seemingly clueless about how the public perceives her.


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In fact, that cool appraisal of an unengaged public threatens to work again, unless outrage against what is considered acceptable corruption changes the rules, unless we take initiative, make enough noise and tell enough truth, to create a tidal wave of political support for Sanders and Warren and politicians speaking out against a fixed system.

The good news, it appears, is that a very hefty percentage of American citizens are outraged by the status quo, a.k.a “the establishment.” On the right, the anti-establishment vote wants a strong man and bloviator but it’s still difficult to take the Donald seriously as a leader. I can’t image impeachment wouldn’t begin the day he’d take the oath. But on the left, voters are looking for remediation of a system that routinely ignores their needs and suppresses their freedoms in the name of stability and safety. That remains the hope of millions.

Alan Grayson, Florida member of the House of Representatives — a controversial figure and outspoken progressive — is running as the anti-establishment candidate to fill Rubio’s Senate seat, while the Dem machine backs a more tractable candidate. Speaker Harry Reid (the epitome of establishment politics) has called on Grayson to quit, based on his personal business practices. Grayson told him to pound salt.

Whether one approves Grayson’s personal issues or not, Alan has a tendency to tell unvarnished truth, and mostly in a funny way. He’s decided to put his superdelegate vote up for grabs, awarding it to the people’s choice. Grayson is clever and contentious and occasionally rough as a cobb, but I like him. Read this and you’ll understand why:

If you want me to endorse Bernie Sanders, then you can vote for me to support Bernie. If you want me to endorse Hillary Clinton, then you can vote for me to support Hillary. If you want me to switch to the Republican party and vote for one of those lunatics, then why are you even reading this? You can expect that to happen when the Atlantic Ocean freezes over. Oh, and Hell, too.

Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton? The choice is yours. Go here to vote right now, and get lots of others to do the same.

Don’t wait too long on this one. The Florida Presidential Primary is just four weeks away, and I’m going to make my decision — excuse me, our decision — long before that. If this works, then maybe other “superdelegates” will follow suit, and netroots activism can turn one of the least democratic elements of the UnDemocratic Party into something really special — a decision Of the People, By the People and For the People.

Progressive pundit Thom Hartmann’s concern that the Democratic party could be weakened by their insistence on ramrodding Clinton through despite growing populism is the antithesis of the meme that NOT putting Clinton at the helm gives the win to the fractured and scattered Republicans. But instead of rocking this baby gently, the DNC just keeps digging the hole deeper, seemingly sure that there is nothing of value in the return to FDR democracy. I think they’ll rue the day.

The whole concept of superdelegates — like gerrymander and 52 different electoral procedures, like attacks on voter registration and backroom agreements and elitist string-pulling — flies in the face of ‘one [wo]man, one vote’, which is the baseline of our government and citizenship. Much as Scalia’s replacement will change politics in this era, the visibility of all that no longer works for the average citizen must shift the way this nation proceeds into a new century.

This delegate business is one of those issues that needs to be talked about and discussed, and information passed around so that citizens are aware of their compromised rights. Truly, unless the citizenry is educated, how can they demand better for themselves, their children and their country?

4 thoughts on “On Being Super

  1. Barbara Koehler

    Thanks Judith, this was so needed. Unless someone is just like you and on top of the shifts and manipulations among political party elites, one doesn’t necessarily feel the need to devote much of his or her personal time and effort into the process of electing one’s own party’s representatives, from the lowest to the highest offices. But now’s the time, if ever there was a time. At least in the USA.

    Did you know that the progressed U.S. (Sibly) chart’s Sun is now at 11+ Pisces? It is also the degree where the transiting Neptune will arrive mid April, and where the U.S. solar return Neptune will be on the U.S. birthday this year. That solar return chart’s Neptune at 11+ Pisces (conjunct PROGRESSED U.S. Sun) will square the U.S. solar return Saturn at 10+ Sagittarius. It’s only 2 degrees from the U.S. Sibly natal ascendant too.

    You can look at Neptune in several ways; varying from total derangement to sublime ecstasy with lots of stops in between. You can look at Saturn in various ways but mostly it comes off as the Establishment. My favorite view of Neptune when considering the U.S. election in general and specifically of the U.S. registered voters, is open-to-divine-intervention.

    Because the U.S. solar return for its next birthday in July has Mercury at 10+ Cancer, and because that solar return Mercury trines solar return Neptune and will be quincunx (make adjustments) to the solar return Saturn, I believe the voters (Mercury) on both sides of the aisle are much more open to Divine Intervention (Neptune) and will demand that the Establishment (Saturn) correct its course. As of July, 2016, that is. Only for you I am adding the Dane Rudhyar version of the Sabian Symbol interpretation for 11+ Pisces (read as 12 Pisces):
    Keynote: The ever-repeated challenge presented to the individual by the group in which he has claimed acceptance – the challenge to prove himself and his ability to assume responsibility effectively.

    Remember this is the degree where the U.S. progressed Sun is located and where the U.S. Solar Return Neptune will be from July 2016 through June 2017. Rudhyar says in his book An Astrological Mandala, “At any level of activity, sooner or later life itself demands of the individual that he or she stand up clearly and unequivocally to the ideal he himself has declared publicly his own.” Rudhyar gives this symbol for the progressed U.S. Sun a keyword of QUALIFICATION.

    It made me feel better; hope it works for you too!

  2. aWord

    Be; made me feel better…:)
    And “education” is another keyword, isn’t it Jude (Elizabeth Warren’s baby too.)
    Well, off and flowing with a Pisces month. Wonder what we’ll find downstream?

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