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Sanders versus Hillary is as heated as Trump versus Cruz

Election season in the United States has been almost unprecedented in its viciousness. While the greatest level of vitriol has almost certainly been on the Republican side, where frontrunners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have attacked each other on a level that would make a five year old ashamed, the chaos wrought between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has been divisive on its own level. Many conspiracists postulate that America’s very strange election year is strange not just because of the Republicans, but because of the Clintons. While not substantiated, there is speculation that the Donald Trump phenomenon is a Clinton fed one, and it’s not helping her cause.

Trump is a friend of the Clintons going back decades, something he has attested to giddily in interviews, and reports indicate that he spoke with Bill Clinton before deciding to run for president. Bernie Sanders has hinted at this close relationship (as have many Republican presidential candidates), quipping at one rally in Idaho Falls: “Let me say a word to you about my good friend Donald Trump. Just kidding, he’s not my good friend. In fact, I never even went to one of his weddings.” (It’s worth noting that, while fairly normal talk in a political campaign, such statements and attacks bely Bernie Sanders’ initial promises to refrain from personal attacks.)

A chaotic Republican primary (and it most certainly is that), followed by a Democratic primary in which Clinton breezes through would assuredly provide the second Clinton presidency that Clinton has so clearly wanted so long. But it’s not what she’s going to get.

Accusations of fraud and mishaps have plagued Hillary Clinton’s campaign in almost every state that she has won. After winning Iowa, the Des Moines Register wrote a scathing editorial in which it said:

[T]he results were too close not to do a complete audit of results…too many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

After Iowa, the Sanders campaign declared that at least 90 percent of the state’s election results were missing. When they asked for a revision, they were refused by the DNC. Additional reports came from Massachusetts, another state Hillary Clinton won narrowly, of former president Bill Clinton helping to physically rope off some borders from entry in to polling places. If true, that would be clearly illegal, as it’s against Massachusetts law to campaign with 150 feet of a polling station.

Things get the most with sketchy with Arizona. Arizona is a red state, and Hillary Clinton seems to do well among red state Democratic voters. The state was quickly declared for Clinton, despite only 1% of votes having been tallied. Long lines and delays resulted in a great deal of people not voting at all. Almost immediate accusations of fraud resulted in a hearing, in which the shouts of protesters were deafening enough to move the hearing to another room. Accusations of fraud led to calls for Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell to resign in the Arizona Republic. Jonathan Larkin, an Arizona State Representative, also loaned his voice to the cause.

Special privilege for the Clintons has been a looming accusation by the Sanders camp against both the DNC and the Clinton camp. Sanders even filed a lawsuit on the basis that his campaign was being denied valuable voter data allowed to the Clinton campaign.

That Sanders has gotten where he is, in very close competition with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination (he recently made an easy, clean sweep of several western states such as Hawaii, Alaska and my home state of Washington), despite impediments and roadblocks put forth by the DNC, shows that his message of democratic socialism truly has momentum among a good portion of the American electorate.

Sanders rides on the momentum of minimum wage hikes brought in by voters in states like California and Washington and the election of unapologetic socialists like Kshama Sawant of Seattle to city governments. Clinton had better be careful how much she fights — a movement based on the premise that the system is broken is only emboldened by a broken system fighting to silence it.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons