SURIANO: The Daily Targum's editorial board got it wrong about Sanders
Column: A RINO's View
I was sitting around my house (the only legally permitted thing to do these days) racking my brain for a topic to write about.
I was planning on writing another column on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has consumed the world. To be honest, I have little interest in writing that and I bet many of you have little interest in reading that. There is so much news about this virus, I figured everyone could use a break.
As I searched for a new topic, I read the opinions section of The Daily Targum, as all the smartest people in the world write in that section. I came across the Targum's editorial, “Sanders's loss displays America's Democratic faults." I believe this editorial is mistaken in parts, and with all due respect to our esteemed editorial board, I would like to present a rebuttal of sorts.
The editorial contends that the way the Democratic Party treated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) undermines the purity of our democracy. It begins with a quote from former President James Madison to underscore the importance of popular opinion in our democracy, which I cannot help but feel is a bit ironic, as the man is the father of our Constitution which has many undemocratic measures.
These include the electoral college and the senate. My point is that the Founding Fathers were just as scared of popular opinion trampling our liberty as the federal government. I believe Sanders was just such a demagogue the Founders were worrying about when they created the electoral college.
The editorial criticizes the Democratic Party for working to consolidate the field: “By conspiring to take down Sanders, the Democratic Party curtailed the will of the populace.” This is a shockingly naïve take on politics in my opinion. It is not some nefarious thing for a political party to do what it believes is in the best interest of the party.
It is in fact what parties are designed to do — get the member of the party elected. It is illogical, as well it implies that Sanders winning a plurality of the field gives him the mandate of the populace. But Sanders losing in a one-on-one battle with former Vice President Joe Biden means that Biden cheated his way to it. There is nothing wrong with backroom politics. If Sanders cannot win one-on-one in a primary, that is his fault. It is a ridiculous notion that Sanders has a right to face a divided field of opponents.
The editorial goes on to argue for a singular primary “day” and the further weakening of our parties. This would further weaken our Democratic system and is in fact anti-Democratic. A single election day will completely cut smaller states out of the process. It would be a sad democracy if it meant having policies only designed for New York and California.
Which is what would happen, because it would become economical to only campaign in the states where there are a lot of people. Furthermore, weakening our parties is how we, as a democracy, have become so bad. Powerful parties can keep the radicals in line and force compromise for the sake of elections. Having radicals on either end of the political spectrum running wild turn ordinary people off of politics and weaken our democracy. Thus, the only people around in politics are radicals.
It seems to me that the problem the editorial board has is with primaries. Unfortunately, they have made an error in the there proposed solution. The solution is not to give people more say in primaries, but return that power back to the parties. Political parties used to control who they nominated for President at a national convention.
The idea that the Democratic Party should be forced to nominate someone the leadership disagrees with due to democracy is silly. The democracy our Founders intended is done during general elections. Primaries are not some ancient tradition in our democracy. Their place in our system came into being in the 1970s.
Parties are private institutions and they should be able to pick their candidates in any manner they see fit. Furthermore, the primary system distorts our democracy. The only people who vote are the most conservative or liberal voters. This means candidates out of line with the much-beloved “popular opinion” are nominated.
So, in our current system candidates like Sanders (radicals, that is) get an unfair advantage. Since the only elected officials are further apart than most Americans, and thus people are less engaged. If we allowed parties more power, then they would be more in line with America at large and our democracy would become more robust.
Robert Suriano is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in history. His column, "A RINO's View," runs on alternate Mondays.
*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.
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