National Lampoon’s Election

In the early 1900s Wisconsin established the nation’s first primary elections, taking the nominating process out of smoke-filled rooms, prying it from the hands of party bosses and giving it to the people.

More than a century later, party bosses are back in charge with generous assistance from the mainstream news media. Oh, Wisconsin’s groundbreaking law remains, but primaries are now pretense.

Consider what is left of the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Voters are still waiting to be allowed to make their preferences known in Wisconsin’s presidential primary and in 26 other upcoming primaries and caucuses across the country. Yet we are lectured daily by media pundits and party leaders alike that the nomination is all but decided, the race is over.

“What? Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is!”

The ballot says Democratic voters in Wisconsin have 12 choices for president: Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, John Delaney, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden.

That’s the pretense.

The reality is that 10 of the 12 have already been compelled to drop out, driven from the race before half of the country gets to weigh in. Two are still running. One has been declared the presumptive nominee.

The one anointed by the media and party bosses is a Capitol Hill fixture and establishment favorite, not to mention a doddering and uninspiring figure who generates little enthusiasm even among his own supporters.

Brings to mind what Boss Tweed said some 145 years ago: “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.”

Wisconsin’s 1911 law was to be a dagger to the heart of Tweed-style corruption. The blade must have missed its target. The corruption lives.

We’re told the nominating’s been done. We’re told it’s over.

It is, unless enough of us decide it’s not.

Mike McCabe

April 2, 2020