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The Democrats Last National Political Machine?

The national political climate is getting stormier and stormier as the days pass, but the history of our country and its political system has been through more than one unexpected twists and turns in the process of nominating and electing our president.

It is said that Lincoln, a maverick from what had been a third party created from the other two, did not get the nomination until the fourth ballot. Popular Progressive Republican Theodore Roosevelt was outmaneuvered, had to run as a third party candidate, and was shot in 1912 in the process.

Ideologue, academic and Democrat Woodrow Wilson sold himself to the people as a reformer who would keep us out of war and then reversed himself showing his true colors as a racist, friend of war profiteers, took us to the war anyway, and brought economic chaos as well.

An angry population elected a smooth-talking Republican, Warren Harding, who benefitted from the first women voting in a national election and won one of the biggest landslides in history, bringing in over 10 years of Republican rule at all levels of government in 1920.

Economic collapse in 1929 would not have been enough to elect Democrat Franklin Roosevelt if he did not steal much of the thunder from Socialist Candidate Norman Thomas in 1932. By 1936 just about every plank from Thomas’ Socialist platform had been at least initiated by Roosevelt as a Democrat, and Roosevelt won the second of four terms, creating a political machine of unequaled power in American history.

Controlling the votes in densely populated areas in major cities was the key to making this very well oiled and corrupt machine function, as it still does to this day. But in a reverse of history, ironically is being challenged by a Socialist candidate – Bernie Sanders.

The power was never more concentrated and effective when bosses Jim Farley of New York and Frank Hague of Jersey City brought a combination of the Irish Catholic votes with union support and for all practical purposes were the kingmakers for Franklin Roosevelt. The federal dollars that flowed back to those two states during the New Deal in exchange for that support were shamelessly obvious, but set the tone for how business would be done in the future once the use of federal dollars in huge unregulated quantities became the ultimate reward for delivering the vote. These practices continue to this day in the largest cities in this country; mostly run by Democratic machines.

Once an unpredictable and independent source of information and investigation, the national press was not always on board with the Democratic Party. This was never more obvious when, despite the success of the New Deal and victory in World War II kept Democrats in power at most levels for 15 years, they took a different tone when President Truman was challenged by Republican former prosecutor and New York governor Thomas Dewey in 1948.

The distaste for some of Truman’s policies and practices as we returned to a postwar economy so angered the media that they coined the phrase “To err is Truman” and supported Dewey at every turn. A breakup of the Democratic Party occurred at the Philadelphia convention when Harry Truman announced in July 1948 that he would desegregate the U.S. Military by Executive Order.

The Southern states left and created the Dixiecrat Party in Birmingham, hoping to throw the election into the House of Representatives. Maverick former VP and Commerce Director, ultra left wing and Stalin supporter Henry Wallace split and took his delegates to the Progressive Party hoping to do the same thing.

The tone in the country, the media, and even Harry Truman’s wife, was that he could not win the presidential election. Tearing up prepared speeches, separating himself from “politics as usual”, he traveled the country by Presidential Train and spoke to the folks about their concerns in frank interaction from the back of his train; covering the entire country in three months, except the deep South.

A combination of standing party strength earned during the New Deal and Roosevelt’s four terms, coupled with frank conversation that essentially told the people that he was not going to be intimidated by the powerful within his own party, won him an unexpected victory; so unexpected that headlines were printed before election results that stated: “Dewey Beats Truman.”

The Democratic Party today is the child of the two parents: Consistency and Corruption. The channeling of federal dollars begun under their control, coupled with buying votes with reckless and unproved socials programs is one side of how they have kept power in place in certain areas. Add to this, careful inside manipulation of the process from ward leaders on up, the outcomes of election within the party are most often known long before the voting takes place.

“Super Delegates” – the creation right out of Orwell’s Animal Farm – promised advance voters that they will be more valuable down the road when needed, validates that quote “some animals on the farm are more equal than others.”

Buying votes one way or another has been the hallmark of the later day Democratic machine. Whether it is the promise of social programs, outright federal funding that creates pay-to-play and patronage, huge subsidies that disappear into a black hole, or the rigged delegates and super delegates at the National Convention, the nomination process for this institution is very undemocratic.

From the very outset of the current race I saw the Republicans running too many candidates, and the Democrats running too few. Could it have been much more obvious that a rigged outcome was in the plans from the top of the DNC, when the only viable and visible challenge to Hillary Clinton from inside the party was a non-Democrat, Socialist Candidate Bernie Sanders from one of least influential parts of this country, and one whose participation in the process on key issues was virtually non-existent?

Not one aggressive and experienced Democrat Senator or Governor would come forward and challenge the machine choice while Sanders stood there as a one-trick pony, but yet the backlash and distaste for the Clinton History kept him alive with money and support no one saw coming.

The two party system is rapidly drawing to a close. The Republicans, for all practical purposes, capitulated when they were not even close to machine practices in fielding 17 candidates in their presidential primary; then whittled down to in effect a non-Republican whose support often comes from outside the party faithful.

The supporting fact for such an outcome is that today a full 43% of registered voters consider themselves Independent of any political party and that is way up from only few years ago when it was a single digit number, Democrats at 30% have actually lost more to the Independents as they had higher registration numbers prior to the Independent phenomenon. Republicans today are at 26%. Distrust and disgust with mainstream politics and politicians has never been higher.

Who knows what the outcome of the two conventions will be when the smoke clears. Libertarian and former governor Gary Johnson may very well be part of the national debate as he is approaching 13% of the 15% needed for inclusion. He is running with prior Massachusetts Governor William Weld, a man who won as a Republican in state with substantial Democratic leanings.

The Democratic Machine of Hillary Clinton is just that – a throwback to the well-oiled machinery of the past where voters are told what to think and who to vote for. Carefully crafted messages at the highest level, coupled with major inside money deals from corporatist sources, not so visible at first glance, have made it all possible. The question now is will “reformer Sanders” keep up his protest to the machine politics with a monkey wrench or two during the campaign?

What machine the Republicans had was never as well structured and functioning as that of the Democrats and their candidates were much less likely to take orders from the top and fought on ideological grounds, hoping for unification through agreement, not orders from the top; as Democrats have done. That did not work out so well this time either, as Donald Trump can hardly be seen as a traditional Republican.

The wheels are actually coming off the Democratic Machine; although the mainstream media will not tell that story as the self-important media leadership sees itself as an extension of a Democratic Party that does not exist – that would be the former “party of the people.”

Funded from the international corporate world by both legal and illegal means, manipulated delegate system with connections to certain unions where orders are given and gratefully carried out by folks who know that truth was sacrificed long ago, support from academia were the party line is part of the curriculum, and media that actually believes it should manipulate outcomes for the Democrats as a public service.

I think there is evidence we are past that kind of power politics and the registration statistics bear that out. It is not often that folks get serious enough to change their party registration, but when they change it to non-affiliated or Independent there is a larger message. That message is: “I want to make sure my ward leader knows he can’t count on me anymore.”

The Republicans broke up earlier this year. The Democrats have kept their lie alive, but the convention is about to start, and there is plenty to discuss from Candidate Clinton’s past performance to the message of unexpectedly popular Bernie Sanders.

When the Conventions of both parties were held in Philadelphia in 1948, there were two parties. Only three months later 4 candidates were on the ballot, and the candidate the press claimed would lose badly won the election.

Jim Foster

The Independent Voice