Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with activist and author Eugene Puryear and political analyst Kazembe Balagun about whether American democracy is in fact democratic.
"I think what it points to is a gulf between elected officials, nominees and the general public," Balogun said of the new poll conducted by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. "For example, in the last nine Democratic debates, the issue of poverty wasn’t mentioned once by any of the candidates. This seems to be a major disconnect between the lives of the voters and what the candidates are talking about."
Puryear agreed, saying that another cause of frustration for American voters is the feeling that their concerns aren’t taken seriously. "[The political system] appears rigged, when just about everyone can agree there’s a problem, but when none of the politicians change it, the only thing left for one to assume is that the system is rigged."
Host Brian Becker suggested that a part of this systematic manipulation is restricting third party and independent access to the American political mainstream. "The Republicans and Democrats seem to have a duopoly on political power. They create and set electoral rules on a state by state basis that makes it almost impossible for third parties to win," he said, pointing out that in states like New York, people must register with either the Democratic or Republican Party a full 190 days before the state primary.
Balogun responded, saying, "three million people in New York who are not Democrat or Republican were not able to vote, in addition to the 90,000 affidavit votes that were tossed out of the primaries." He added that the role of superdelegates keeps dissenting voices within the two major parties from bubbling to the top, stating that, "Superdelegates act as a bulwark against insurgency in the Democratic Party," to halt the rise of progressive and liberal candidates.
Puryear considered the problematic role of superdelegates in the current election cycle, saying, "A good number of superdelegates committed to Clinton before anyone had voted, which shows that they didn’t care who the voters thought the best person was gonna be, it was who they thought the best person was."
The activist observed that superdelegates are typically the elite elements within the Democratic Party, and that "they are directly embedded into this system of big money politics whereby there is a revolving door between the corporate sector and the political world."
Puryear suggests that the way in which American politics function today is built into the country’s foundation.
"This is one of the most indelible realities of American democracy going back to the founders," he said. "All of whom were against giving the vast majority of the public any say in political affairs, explicitly because they were afraid that poor people would challenge the interests of rich people. American democracy is not democratic."