The Kentucky primary saw HR Clinton win by a slender margin, and one controversy has persisted – the matter of Bernie Sanders suddenly losing 5,000 votes. This has become a youtube video and a social media meme, based on video taken from rolling news coverage of the vote. This has been claimed to be definitive proof of voter fraud and evidence that ‘they’ (the great evil ‘they’ who are about as well defined as the Bush administration defined ‘Al Qaeda’) don’t want #FeeltheBern to win. The truth, as is so often the case, is that a bunch of dumbwits and wishful thinking fantasists have been taken in by a load of guff.
The Kentucky Primary: Did Sanders Lose 5,000 votes?
This image has been doing the rounds in the last two days, as has this video:
As comments below the youtube video make clear, the 5000 votes removed from Sanders’ count (along with the 2400 votes removed from Clinton’s) were a result of one county’s vote being recalled. There was no fraud, or at least this particular anomaly was not the result of fraud. There may be voting fraud to prevent Sanders from getting the nomination, but this isn’t proof of that. All it proves is that one county’s vote got recalled.
Facts that are missing from most comments on this question include:
1) That Clinton was ahead by nearly 2000 votes (her eventual winning margin) at the time of the ‘fraud’.
2) That Clinton also lost votes – as a result of the recalled county.
3) That Clinton’s eventual winning margin in Kentucky was not enough to gain her any more delegates – Clinton and Sanders each gained 27 delegates from Kentucky. Even if Sanders had the extra 5,000 votes and Clinton the extra 2400 from before the ‘fraud’ then Sanders would have marginally won Kentucky, but not to such an extent that he’d have any more delegates. So the ‘fraud’ was irrelevant to the result.
The Politics of Rebellion
But you know what they say, never let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory. And never let reality get in the way of cult of personality worship. As with the other candidates Clinton and Donald Trump, Sanders supporters seem (for the most part) to be incapable of seeing any flaws or problems with their preferred President. All three candidates are playing the game as though there is deep opposition to them, feeding off the idea that they are somehow rebels. In the case of Trump and Sanders they are adopting platforms, or at least rhetoric, that is outside of the neoliberal at home/neoconservative abroad centrist dialogue of our day. In Clinton’s case she’s sticking 100% to the neolib/neocon dialogue, but she’s a woman, so there’s that.
This is how the cult of personality works. Each candidate plays to their own audience acting like the others’ audiences are small but radical minorities in total opposition to them. So everyone feels like they have to agree with whatever’s being said because any deviation from that is treated with such vitriol. Trump has proven to be the best at this, but Sanders is equally guilty of rabble-rousing and tolerating the presence of bigoted idiots among his support.
One consequence of this is that anyone who buys into these cults of personality ends up with a persecution complex – either about themselves or about their preferred candidate. With Trump it’s that he’s ‘not bound by politically correctness’ (or by reason, morals, good taste and basic decency) and so the ‘liberal media’ are ‘going after him’. In reality the media, across the board and without exception, have provided Trump with a means of promoting himself, to the extent that the Republican nomination now appears to be inevitable.
With Sanders the media have under-reported his campaign, but in much the same way as they did with Ron Paul the last time this circus was in town. Given that Sanders is a Marxist and Ron Paul is a ‘bring the troops home and stick them on the border, ban abortions and cut welfare to blacks (and by implication end up using the troops for riot control)’ type of guy the media’s wilful ignorance towards Paul and Sanders is not about policies.
I would tentatively suggest it’s about playing into these cults of personality by setting up these figures as anti-establishment. Just like refusing to put a punk bank on TV probably sold more records than if they had been on TV, the same is true of politics candidates. This is especially true today, when these candidates have other platforms like youtube and social media sites through which to promote themselves and grow a base of support. The idea that the news ignoring you puts you at a disadvantage is not necessarily true.
Manipulating the Masses
Getting back to the ‘voter fraud’ that didn’t happen, I will also tentatively suggest that this little phenomena is an experiment to see how self-victimising the Sanders supporters are. After all, it seems unavoidable that Sanders will fail and already his supporters are discussing whether to vote for Trump in an ‘anyone but Clinton’ move, or to vote for an independent candidate. The inevitable failure of the dream seems to be something many Sanders supporters accept and almost want to happen because it would vindicate their feeling that he is ‘too dangerous to the establishment for them to let him become president’.
Which brings me to another little mystery. If you go to the page for the youtube video above you may or may not see comments explaining that the video is misleading. For example, this one:
Despite being the highest-voted comment on the page, this comment does not always appear when you visit the link or refresh the page. When you click the option to the see the top comments it should be top of the list, having the most thumbs up. But it isn’t. Is youtube manipulating the comments to encourage not just confusion but also this self-victimising mentality, this persecution complex among Sanders supporters? It would appear so. Visit the link for yourself and see if you can find this comment. If you do, refresh the page and see if it is still there.
To be clear: I would prefer it if Sanders was elected President. This is not about Sanders or even his supporters, but about the dangers of cult of personality candidates and the sense of persecution and exclusion craved by many of those who buy into such candidates. Don’t vote for someone because they make you feel a bit rebellious or feed into your sense of not being part of this society. Aside from outright hateful prejudice, that is perhaps the worst reason to vote for someone. Likewise, don’t vote for someone because of a 30 second youtube video. That’s just moronic.
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