Sanders And Trump Are Wrong: The System Isn’t Rigged

[screen shot MSNBC Getty]

Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton
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Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have at least one thing in common.

Trump reacted to his losses to GOP primary rival Ted Cruz in Colorado and Wyoming by saying: “I’m not a fan of Bernie Sanders, but it’s a rigged system. The Republican system is a rigged system.”

And on Sunday, Sanders told “Face the Nation” that the Democratic nominating process was “stacked” against him, and has told others it is “undemocratic.” He complains about the existence of “superdelegates” — the Democratic state and federal elected officials and party officials who get to go to the July convention unpledged. And he complains that non-Democrats (not just “Independents” but Republicans as well) are not allowed to vote in some Democratic primaries.

But Trump and Sanders knew about the published rules for a long time before they ran for president.

Superdelegates were created in 1982 — 34 years ago. Yet as far as I know, Sanders never complained about the concept until now. Any doubt that if he were ahead among superdelegates, instead of Hillary Clinton, he would not be complaining? Or that Trump would not be yelling “rigged” if he had won in Wyoming over Cruz?

Let’s face it: Both Trump and Sanders are mad about the rules of the game after the game has already begun and is two-thirds done.

Sanders’s grumbling on TV Sunday that Independents and other non-Democrats (including Republicans who re-register the day of the primary) are not allowed to vote in New York and other state primaries is even louder now after his substantial loss to Clinton in the New York Democratic primaryTuesday, which was limited to registered Democrats.

Now really: Is that chutzpah or what?

Sanders has spent most of his political career denying he is a registered Democrat but rather a “democratic socialist.” Now he is upset that in some states only Democrats can participate in voting in a Democratic primary?

But in fact, as we saw during the New York Daily News editorial board interview, the Vermont senator once again has not done his homework. Fact: Out of the 57 Democratic primaries and caucuses, more than half — 28 — are not closed to only Democratic voters. Sanders failed to mention that.

On his complaints about superdelegates, Sanders also didn’t do his homework. In fact, they only make up about 15 percent of the total number of delegates to the Democratic National Convention: 712 out of a total 4,763. That means 85 percent of all delegates to the convention are elected through primaries and caucuses.

Sanders also chooses to ignore the actual voter results.

Clinton won a landslide victory in New York on Tuesday, by close to 16 points — 58 percent to 42 percent (despite Sanders’s multiple predictions of victory or a close vote). Including the Empire State results, according to RealClearPolitics on Wednesday morning, she now leads Sanders in the popular vote by nearly 2.7 million votes.

The former secretary of State leads among all pledged delegates so far by 277, according to The Associated Press — a margin of about 55 percent to 45 percent. And this does not include the superdelegates publicly committed to Clinton, 502 to Sanders’s 38 — that’s a lead of 464.

Is Sanders really contending with a straight face that Democratic superdelegates should switch their support from Clinton to him even though he is so far behind in both the popular vote and elected delegates? Now that argument would really constitute chutzpah!

I am not arguing that Sanders should drop out of the race. But he should at least admit that, despite his self-described populist campaign, so far the “people” have spoken through their popular and delegate votes — and their verdict is overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is cofounder of the law firm of “Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC”, and cofounder of the public relations firm “Trident DMG”. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).