Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Cult of Bernie Sanders, part deux

I wrote my previous post out of frustration.  As I said then, I have many friends on Facebook who are diehard Sanders supporters irrational zealots.   At least they are now.  I used to respect their intelligence and I thought they had good heads on their shoulders.  But now they show their ignorance of the American system daily and think they are experts about why it's terrible.  Well, of course it's not perfect, and there are many changes I'd like to see (including many that Sanders preaches about), but overthrowing it in a "revolution" just isn't a practical idea in a government that was intentionally set up to prevent revolutions.  We've had some bad leaders, but we haven't had a Hitler or a Stalin or Napoleon.  Nixon had the temperament to go into that territory, but he had his Constitutional limitations.  So does Sanders.  At the beginning of his campaign I was all for him, but as the campaign became more about him and less about principles, and was called a "revolution" rather than a movement, I soured on him.

But back to the cultish nature of the Sanders subculture.  The latest conspiracy theory demonized the Democratic leaders of Nevada, accusing them of cheating Sanders out of delegates.  After seeing their posts, I went looking for some verification.  I posted links to the Washington Post and other sources, but finally Politifact took on their claims.  I am relieved to see that Politifact thinks there were probably no folding chairs being thrown, but the accusations lobbed by the Sanders faction are also false:

Barring a total collapse from either campaign, this means that one candidate was to get seven delegates at the state convention and the other was to get five...But that model was essentially broken during the April county conventions, where less than half of Clinton’s allocated county delegates showed up, leading Sanders to declare a surprise victory and allocated delegate advantage over Clinton (2,124 to 1,792) heading into the state convention...
 ...The rules specifically lay out that all convention votes must be done by voice vote, and that only the convention chair can declare the winner or call for a more specific method of voting among the thousands of delegates.
The rules also state that any amendment attempts must be approved by two-thirds of the convention delegates — which would be difficult given the nearly even number of Clinton and Sanders backers present there were no last minute rule changes sprung on convention-goers — the rules had been publicly available weeks in advance, largely unchanged for three presidential cycles, and given to both campaigns....
(After the voice vote) Sanders supporters rushed the main stage, hurling obscenities at Lange and other members of the party’s executive board and booing over remarks from California Sen. Barbara Boxer delivered on behalf of the Clinton campaign.  None of the three Sanders supporters who spoke, including Nevada superdelegate Erin Bilbray, made any motion to amend the rules during that time, so they were approved as written.

In summary:
  • The rules remained in place because there was no motion to change them, although some petitions were received that could have supported the motion.
  • Sanders supporters did rush the stage but no chairs were thrown.
  • Clinton's supporters outnumbered Sanders's, giving her two more delegates due to the nature of the rules even though her numbers were only slightly larger.
  • The panel that examined the credentials of delegates was made up of equal numbers of Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters.
  • Rejected delegates, some of whom were Clinton supporters, were investigated.  Since 50 of the 58 contested delegates didn't actually show up, though, this issue is moot.
  • The convention ran over by 4 hours, and that was the reason for cutting it "short."  Since security was necessary, and the security guards were due to leave, the convention had to end.
This is pretty much the opposite of what the Sanders camp claims.  I think a voice vote when there are equal numbers on both sides is a terrible way to make a decision.  But...  it was the leader's right to stop there and not call for a paper ballot.  Since a two-thirds vote was required to change the vote, rather equal sounding voices were not sufficient, so I don't find this complaint compelling either.

* * * * *

Then there is Kentucky.  Clinton won Kentucky handily in 2008, thanks, I suspect, to bigotry against Obama.  The final tally put her ahead by a hair, but the Sanders zealots were glued to their internet the whole night, watching the television & their echo chamber for any sign that their paranoid delusions have merit.  A few of my friends shared this image:

Yes, it does seem strange that Clinton's vote total changed while Sanders's didn't.  Is that evidence of fraud?  No.  It's evidence of information being fluid and fallible as results come in.  (It happened in other states too - where mistakes were counted as evidence of shenanigans by the cult)  A quick trip to Wikipedia would tip off the skeptic:  The population of the entire county is under 20,000!  Fewer than 10,000 people voted in the November 2008 presidential race!  In that election, McCain took the county by a narrow margin.  This means the total votes should have been more like 5,000 for that county.  So which is more likely?  Election fraud?  Or a mistake on the part of the source of the image?  Or amistake on the part of the image and a mistake of interpretation on the part of the Sanders camp?

They also don't seem to get that Sanders has had a poor track record in black districts.  Yes, we still have segregation, which is bad in general but it does give minorities a voice.  They have clearly expressed their preference for Clinton.  This means that as you follow the vote tallies over the course of an election night, you might indeed see a jump for one candidate.  100% of a large district probably wouldn't happen, but as precincts come in the change in vote count will not be a straight line.  It will be a lumpy line.

Their math is also bad in almost every meme that has numbers.  Here's another one:

The first number refers to pledged delegates (not counting superdelegates), and the second number refers to California's total number of delegates.  For an apples to apples comparison, the California number should be 475.  That's still a substantial number, so why the fuzzy math?

If Sanders needs 318 to tie, it's not really 318.  If he won 318, Clinton would receive 157 thanks to proportional delegates.  So he's then behind by 157.  For him to overtake her by one delegate, he would need 397.  She'd then get 78, for a total of 396.  397 is 84% of the vote.  Not impossible, but not a walk in the park, either.  Of the 21 states he's won, the only state he won by that margin is his home state, Vermont.

College Humor pointed out the weaknesses in Berniemath a few weeks ago, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in:

Even if Bernie takes California by a margin of over 80%, there are only 306 more pledged delegates left in the primary process.  At present, she has 504 superdelegates to his 40.  Since he's been calling the system "corrupt" and accusing Democratic party faithful of being cheaters, Berniemath would require a change of heart from the very people he's attacking.

It's very possible that those 504 superdelegates haven't offered their support because they just don't like him.  If he said those things about me I certainly wouldn't switch allegiance.

So... there are 952 delegates left in the process, but five superdelegates have already declared for Clinton, so it's 947.  Bernie is 844 delegates shy of the amount needed to clinch the nomination.  That's 89% of all the delegates left.

I would not call for him to stop campaigning, but I am calling for his followers to think more critically.

Also, lay off the creepy peer pressure:

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