Since I know you are busy, I’ll come straight to the point. As I see it, you have exactly one course of action to take if you want to avoid walking through the rest of this election wrinkling your nose and checking the soles of your shoes. You’ve stepped in something quite unsavory, almost certainly by accident, and the only way to clean it off is to openly join the people calling for a new Democratic primary in Arizona.
You see, that primary reeks of being rigged. The butcher did not press his thumb on the scales — he sat on the scales. The election officials were clumsy, and arrogant, and stupid. It was so overt, it should probably result in criminal charges. But that is water under the bridge. You have a campaign to manage, and a primary to win, and here’s your problem.
If you complacently smile and claim your “victory” in Arizona, it looks as though you were in on the fraud. That wouldn’t make much difference if Bernie Sanders were trailing miles behind you in the polls. But he isn’t, and — as I’m sure you know all too well — he’s going to close the gap in the next few weeks. So you’re going into a tight contest with a blatantly fraudulent win on your side, and the fact that you would keep such a thing in a tight race makes it look like you believe you need such a thing. You can talk with your handlers about this, but I suspect that looking like an overtly corrupt politician willing to collude in election fraud to capture eighteen lousy delegates, is going to hurt you a whole lot more than those eighteen delegates will help you.
If, on the other hand, you turn down this “win” and call foul, you’re going to gain a lot of credibility with your supporters, your detractors, and all the folks on the fence. Who knows — if we have a subsequent honest primary in Arizona, you might even get all eighteen of those delegates back, anyway. Even if you don’t, you’ll gain some traction in subsequent races that you will lose if you stand by this fraud.
There’s a deeper and more important current to this, however, and despite your obvious intelligence and experience, I cannot shake the feeling that you simply don’t get it. So I’ll spell it out for you, in the hopes that you will get it.
In mid-2015, when this race was shaping up to be a polite bicker between you and Jeb Bush, I blogged that I was going to walk away from voting in 2016 altogether. That was, indeed, my intention — because frankly, I didn’t see any difference between you and Jeb. You’ll disagree, of course, and will think me a fool for failing to see the differences, and you may even be right. But if I am a fool, then I am a common fool, surrounded by many other common fools who also have stopped voting. And if the common fools stop voting, who shows up at the polls? Obviously, the uncommon fools.
This is why, if you win this nomination, you will face Donald Trump: he is the candidate of the uncommon fool. All of us common fools have long-since given up on politics, because we’ve come to believe — if it is not, indeed, a realization — that our vote simply doesn’t matter. The game is rigged.
A few years ago, I read a biography of Lorenzo di’ Medici, the man they called Il Magnifico in fifteenth-century Florence, and it was fascinating to learn that, despite the enthusiastic voting and the lotteries and the elaborate political machinery of the Florentine Republic that gave all citizens a full standing in government, somehow — somehow — Il Magnifico always ended up as First Citizen, surrounded by a tight circle of his cronies. Just as his grandfather, Cosimo, had always been at the center of Florentine government, surrounded by his own loyalists. Just as Lorenzo’s son, Piero, ended up with the title of First Citizen, though he was utterly incompetent, and ended up turning the republic over to a religious fanatic and demagogue, Girolamo Savonarola, who was hanged and burned in the public square only four years after he took power.
You see, in the last forty years, all of you in Washington have lost the loyalty, the support, and the votes of us common fools. You are now courting the votes of the uncommon fools, and the truth you need to understand is that a narcissistic, sociopathic, gaslighting liar like Donald Trump is better than you at courting the vote of the uncommon fools.
If you succeed in taking this Democratic nomination with the stink of a cheap trick like Arizona trailing after you, and if — somehow — you squeak past Trump into the White House, you’re creating an even more serious problem for the future of this country. Arizona, followed by a Clinton presidency, teaches all us common fools that our dark suspicions were right all along, and that our votes simply don’t matter: that this whole thing is a big, empty sham where Il Magnifico, or his appointed heir, always ends up First Citizen. We will walk away, and abandon voting to the uncommon fools.
So if you defeat Donald Trump in 2016 with this Arizona farce still standing, you will need to defeat a worse monster in 2020, and with less support than you have now. Your successor will face something worse yet in 2024.
Call foul, Hillary. Give up your Arizona win in the short term, in the hopes you can win it back honestly in the long term.
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