Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sounds like a spoiled, entitled, fading-fast brat when he moans about the election being rigged. Sure, it’s funny when he bitches about Crooked Hillary, Lying Ted, Little Marco, and all the rest, but he’s full of beans when he complains in a narrow sense about voter or election fraud. Not that he’s alone in doing so. As Reason’s Jesse Walker points out, various Republicans such as John McCain and the conservatives at Town Hall have fretted in recent years over just such things. So did Democrats and Democratic-leaning media orgs, especially in 2000 and 2004. The once-influential magazine Harper’s, the always-overwrought Vanity Fair, and that living emodiment of regression-to-the-mean, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., all swore up and down that BushHitler out-and-out stole the 2004 election.
And yet, Trump is clearly expressing a widely felt sentiment when he complains about the larger political process being “rigged.” And he’s not alone in talking that way. The Blessed Elizabeth Warren, the patron saint of self-aggrandizing public moralists, says so, as did Bernie Sanders, at least right up to the moment when Wikileaks provided actual documentary evidence that the Democratic National Committee was actively working against the Vermont socialist’s presidential campaign. (It’s weird, isn’t it, that Sanders shut his trap about all this at the very moment his fears were borne out.) Many progressives say it’s because of the CORPORATIONS while the right-wingers tend to blame the MEDIA (and yes, they talk about such entities in ALL CAPS).
For those of us who are outside the Republican and Demcoratic parties, there’s a different cast to the rigging when it comes to politics. As Nicholas Sarwark, the national chair of the Libertarian Party, told me in a recent interview, crazy and ever-changing ballot-access requirements are explicit hurdles to full participation in elections by diverse political groups. The one thing Dems and Reps can always agree on is that there’s no goddamn reason to let more voices on the stage. And as HBO’s John Oliver demonstrates, third-party candidates don’t get taken seriously by the media even when they have more experience and credibility than major-party candidates. In The Declaration of Independents, Matt Welch and I talked about all the ways in which the political duopoly works to delegitimate and silence new and different perspectives.
With all that as a background, I’d like to point you to a great new hour-long documentary that explores the ways in which ordinary Americans and their concerns are systematically shut out from political discourse. Not right there at the polling place, of course, but much, much further upstream. Focusing on voter fraud and intimidation, both of which are blessedly rare-to-nonexistent, is a diversion from the bigger picture.
Underwritten by Overstock.com’s CEO Patrick Byrne and featuring a calvacade of libertarian-leaning commentators such as Matt Kibbe, Glenn Beck, and yours truly (in a brief appearance), Rigged 2016 analyzes why politics and elections never seem to engage the concerns and views of voters and citizens who refuse to identify as either Republican or Democrat. It also gets at why the two major parties are losing members like nobody’s business.
Below is the trailer and here’s the website for the full, hour-long film, which you can watch for free online. “Do Not Vote For President Until You See This Film,” reads the tag line. It’s sage advice and you’re way better off watching Rigged 2016 rather than any Punch-and-Judy cable news program.