This time in February 2016 – the last election year in America – at a rally in South Carolina, Donald Trump said this:
“We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning. you’re going to say, ‘Please Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don’t win so much. This is getting terrible.’ And I’m going to say, ‘No, we have to make America great again.’ You’re gonna say, ‘Please.’ I said, ‘Nope, nope. We’re gonna keep winning’.
It was one of a multitude of comments spouted by Trump which was clipped, soundbite-d and replayed across Twitter, MSNBC, Have I Got News For You and hundreds of other smug panel shows alike. Back then, it rang with a delicious preposterousness on too many levels to list: the fact that it could be uttered by an elderly adult, a presidential candidate no-less! That “winning” could be used as a measure of success for an entire nation at all, while surely only the people of America could win by being graced by a leader would fight to make the lives of the majority palpably better; and ahistorical too: in the 20th and 21st centuries, hawkish Presidents’ attempts at ‘winning’ normally equated to country losing to a devastating degree.
And yet now it’s election year again in the USA, and Trump is “winning” on a number of fronts. In the polls, in his record approval ratings and – most distinctly – time and again against the Democratic Party, who conversely don’t appear to be tiring of losing any time soon. He has just been acquitted after the weakest of the five impeachment trials in American history; an un-winnable charade which sought to gain the required two thirds majority in a Senate with a Republican majority of 53. It would mean ten GOP-senators voting against their leader in a party where a good portion of it’s members publicly slandered Trump when he announced his candidacy, ruminated on the death of their party when he became the nominee, and now unequivocally fall in line. Historically, GOP-Senators wouldn’t even allow witness testimonies out of fear that they’d discredit their man. The Republican Party is now a place devoid of the nuance and integrity it would take to vote against party lines. When Representative Mac Thornberry – who isn’t even going to stand for re-election – simply suggested that while not impeachable, Trump’s Ukrainian call was “inappropriate”, he received the following slap-down by tweet mere hours later:
In Trump’s GOP anything other than absolute praise can be met with public mockery from the President and the threat of deselection. Attempting to declare impeachment in this climate was always going to be nearly impossible, and yet house-leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer pressed on, in full awareness that President Clinton’s own acquittal was followed by a boost in the polls in 1999. This is the gift they have given him to begin election year: his highest ever Gallup approval rating. He currently stands as the betting favourite for re-election in 2020.
In my eyes, Trump’s phone-call was an impeachable offence, and the state of the Republican Party is a truly regrettable one, but the Democrats continue to fail to even deal with the hand they’ve been dealt, let alone attempt to change the game entirely. By pressing towards impeachment in response to one of Trump’s far less egregious abuses of the office, they managed to appear both self-serving and allow the conversation through the trials to centre about Biden’s corrupt son. As Trump ranted dozens of time a day on Twitter, why else would Hunter Biden be paid $50,000 to sit on the executive board of Burisma Holdings Ltd. – when he has no history in the energy industry – if not for his name?
Given the Republican majority in the Senate, impeachment was always going to fail, but even an acquittal may have hurt Trump in the public eye if the Democrats had impeached him on more substantial grounds. They could instead have begun proceedings based on the fact that the Saudi Arabian government funnelled Trump money through his hotel in DC just prior to the President awarding them a multi-billion dollar arms deal in 2017. Add to that the fact that the Saudi state then proceeded to use said weapons to conduct a genocide in Yemen and you have a President taken to task for being morally bankrupt, corrupt and breaking the Emoluments Clause – raising issues of the constitution, personal corruption and war crimes. Unfortunately, Democrats raising such issues would shine to bright a light on their own history of personal corruption and the casual dismissal of the War Powers Resolution and so such matters barely came up, and a GOP investigation in the Bidens’ own corruption is now being launched.
This brings me to the man with the second highest betting odds of being inaugurated in January 2021: Bernie Sanders. Latest odds in the wake of the shambolic Iowa caucus report that Trump stands at a 4/6 chance of winning re-election, with Bernie Sanders at 7/2. All polling date is clear however: in a head to head with Trump, Sanders would win. His policy positions are popular with the American public, and the man himself is the country’s most popular working politician, among both men and women. It isn’t hard to see why: Sanders is the only candidate with a platform which agrees with Trump’s winning premise that America isn’t working for the majority who live in it – the primary reason for most swing voters’ shift to Trump – but offers progressive solutions and cites radically different causes. The other Democratic nominees are far less convincing: reminiscent of the corporate wing of the party which lost in 2016: from Pete Buttigieg, who has received donations from 6% of the nation’s billionaires (40/621) but has 1% Latino support to Trump’s 26%, to Joe Biden whose debate performances have transformed from solid against Sarah Palin to weak against the likes of Marianne Williamson. Out of all of the democratic candidates, Sanders is the one likely to beat Trump by the largest margin.
With the one of the main purposes of a political party being to win elections, a betting man would predict that the weight of DNC support – partisanship against the party’s internal rules but certainly shown in 2016 – would be thrown behind the Vermont Senator. But the DNC seem addicted to losing, and so nothing of the kind has happened. Then again, it didn’t inspire them to act (or at least remain neutral) in 2016 when polls consistently showed Sanders beating Trump decisively, and by a far higher margin than Hilary Clinton. Leaked emails revealed that the DNC had begun exchanging ideas on how to ensure that Clinton was the candidate as early as June 2015, gave her preferential treatment by providing her with the questions before televised debates and used the super-delegate system to grant Clinton more delegates even in states she lost by wide margins. Then came Iowa.
The confusing mess has been subject to contradictory reporting, conspiracy theories and general confusion, but here are the some known facts: when people awoke on February 4th to hear the results of the previous days’ primary, there were none. For the first time in its history, the first state to declare declared nothing. It transpired that this was because the Shadow app being used to return results to the Iowa Democratic Party crashed – the app required PIN numbers to operate, hadn’t been stress-tested for numbers beyond 200 (there are thousands of voters in Iowa) and had little-to-no robust defence from malware or hacks. In this time Pete Buttigieg, who came 4th in the last major poll before the race, declared himself the winner. Buttigieg had donated over $42,000 to the apps’ company Shadow Inc. in the run-up to the race, several of the foremost figures of which had once being staff on the Hilary for America campaign. The results were then declared, slowly, percent by percent – the first three days’ worth of results amounted to Buttigieg appearing as the decisive winner, until on Friday 9th the final few percent revealed that Sanders had won the popular vote by over 6,000 in a state of 180,000 voters. There also remain outstanding several hundred discrepancies in the reported State Delegate Equivalent metric by which most publications have exclusively measured the results, where Buttigieg did win by 0.09%. A forest plot of these discrepancies show the benefits of these errors to have overwhelmingly fallen in Buttigieg’s favour, and the negatives impacts falling overwhelmingly against Sanders:
The effect of this has been significant, granting Buttigieg a drastic increase in the New Hampshire polling following three days of coverage declaring him the victor. Naturally nobody outside of the DNC or the Shadow Inc. board office is in a position to know whether or not this was a repeat of the rigging which certainly did occur in 2016, but we can say that the Iowa shambles was at best gross incompetence, at worst corruption and democratic fraud, and that it has benefitted Pete Buttigieg and hurt Sanders.
There are legitimate concerns for Sanders even before seeing the corrected figures: from his worsening performance in the rural counties and lower turnout for the caucus across the board, but only time will tell whether Iowa will set a precedent going forward. Sanders remains the favourite to win all of the other states during the entire campaign, and to become the nominee – but 2020 may again be seeing the loss-loving DNC sabotage their most promising candidate.
In a new interview with the South Florida newspaper The Sun Sentinel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to warn against left-leaning candidates in the primaries:
“I just say to all of our friends, you know, you want to go to the left? You want to win the election, let’s make a decision to win the election. And when you make a decision to win the election, you have to make every decision in favor of winning. There’s plenty of progressive work that we can do in the mainstream without, um, shall we say, having the luxury of our exuberances in carving up a pie we don’t even have… we all understand what is at stake”
Pelosi however has led the Democrats to loss after loss, with a consistency which makes it look like an ideology. As Glenn Greenwald professed however: this is to give her too much credit: like much of the DNC, she has none. Like the entire corporate wing of the Democratic Party – who have fawned over a sequence of candidates from Hilary Clinton, Kamala Harris and now Pete Buttigieg – their philosophies are hard to discern, and they applaud meaningless action like tearing apart a State of the Union address to get plaudits on Twitter, which voting with Trump on more policy than is comfortable. To win in 2020 – to build a better future for the 80% of US workers living paycheque to paycheque, for those dying through lack of health coverage or living lives as social outsiders thanks to a minor felony conviction and for every country on the planet affected by aggressive foreign policy and high carbon emissions – they’ll have to do change, or lose to a candidate on the inside named Bernie.
Words by Liam Inscoe – Jones.