Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is complaining about Microsoft’s involvement in the Iowa Caucus. Microsoft is working with both parties on separate apps which will report precinct results as the Caucus goes on. But Sanders’ camp claims this is just another example of corporations messing with politics. Via MSNBC:
The arrangement has aroused the suspicions of aides to Sanders, whose regularly warns that corporate power and the billionaire class are trying to hijack democracy. Pete D’Alessandro, who is running the Iowa portion of Sanders’ campaign, questioned the motives of the major multinational corporation in an interview with MSNBC: “You’d have to ask yourself why they’d want to give something like that away for free.”
The Sanders campaign has built their own reporting system to check the results from the official Microsoft-backed app. It has trained its precinct captain on using the app, which is designed to be as user friendly as possible, and the campaign will also staff a hotline system as further redundancy.
“It’s just a way that our folks can have an app that we trust to get the numbers to us in a timely fashion,” D’Alessandro said. “I’m always going to be more for sure on the stuff that my people had control over the entire time… If there are any problems, we can spot them right away.”
The complaints fall in line with Sanders’ claim he hates corporate involvement in politics, and the buying and selling of politicians. His campaign would love potential voters to believe Sanders is doing this for them, and fighting against the “ebil big businesses” who may want Hillary Clinton to win. This would all be well and good, except for the fact Microsoft isn’t one of Clinton’s biggest donors, but one of Sanders’. Via OpenSecrets:
It’s true almost $17K isn’t a ton of cash compared to the millions of dollars other candidates have gotten. But it shows Sanders’ hypocrisy when it comes to corporate donations. He’s railed against corporate influence in politics for years, all while accepting their money anyway. One friend of mine suggested it was because Sanders is taking money from corporations he respects and trusts, but now he’s complaining about one of his donors while not admitting they’ve given money to him. If Sanders were really “anti-corporations in politics” he’d decline their donations, or return them once he saw they gave him money. The media likes to point out when Republicans receive donations from “suspect individuals and groups,” so why can’t they do the same thing with Sanders? Why won’t Sanders’ campaign actually acknowledge they’re partially being funded by the same corporate interests he claims are ruining politics?
It really shouldn’t matter how much corporations, unions, and individuals donate to politicians, and there shouldn’t be any limit. It’s free speech and protected by the First Amendment. Candidates should be required to report every single donation they receive and make it easily accessible on their websites. That way people can look to see who’s bankrolling which candidate, and don’t have to wait for the media to put their own spin on things. But it’s also important for these donations to be easily accessible so the public knows when a politician suggests something completely cronytastic (see Marco Rubio’s online gambling ban bill after Sheldon Adelson started warming up to him). The public can then decide to whether or not a candidate’s rhetoric matches his or her’s actions when it comes to donations and proposals, and whether they want to hold the candidate accountable. This is the way to fight the buying and selling of politicians, not outright banning corporate donations. But candidates also have a responsibility when it comes to these donations. Politicians don’t have to vote the way corporate donors (allegedly) want them to. No one is forcing them to check “yes” or “no” on a piece of legislation or even proposing it at all. In fact, if a donor threatened to stop giving a politician money, the politician could go public and say, “This donor is now backing my opponent (or no longer giving me cash) because I won’t do what he/she wants me to do!” That way the politician appears to be the martyr, and the donor the bad guy.
In all honesty, it’s pretty cool Microsoft is developing technology which can help the Iowa Caucus come into the 21st Century. The fact a private company is willing to do this is even better. Could Microsoft have ulterior motives for this? Only company officials know know, and if something goes horribly wrong there’s nothing stopping the parties from doing a recount. But Sanders’ complaints reek of falsehood. He can moan about corporate money in politics all he wants, but until Sanders’ actions match his rhetoric, he’s just a phony. The media likes to bring up Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street (and they should, given her attempts to pass herself as an anti-Wall Street crusader), but when will they start reporting Sanders takes Wall Street cash too? It’s not as much as Clinton does, but it’s still biting the hand which feeds him.