Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Democratic US Presidential candidate and US Representative Dean Phillips (Minnesota) condemned the systemic threats to US elections at every level of the process in a recent conversation with Open Primaries President John Opdycke.
However, contrary to the narrative often heard in the national media, he called out his own party for not being the protectors of democracy that it claims to be.
"The political industrial complex that protects this duopoly is very dangerous, and has set rules designed to prevent competition," said Phillips. It is something voters are not accustomed to hearing from a major party presidential candidate.
Partisan pundits in the media are pushing a narrative about the 2024 presidential election that the choice before voters is "democracy versus authoritarianism." Voters must vote for President Joe Biden to protect US elections.
And if they don't, the 2024 elections could be the nation's last. (This is a line that has actually been used.)
Biden and the DNC have made protecting democracy the central focus of his campaign, and while former President Trump's statements and actions after the 2020 presidential elections warrant condemnation, the DNC doesn't have a leg to stand on here:
2. It has actively tried to deny contenders to Biden's Democratic nomination a place on the ballot, and in some states has been successful;
3. It refused to host debates and give would-be contenders to Biden a platform to speak;
4. It robbed New Hampshire primary voters a say in delegate selection because the state didn't schedule its primary when the party wanted; and
5. It is telling voters that a vote for an independent or third-party candidate is a vote for Trump and that they will do great harm to this country if they do not vote for Biden.
"My party, the party in which I have believed, supported, enabled, and invested in for so long, is actually working against the very democracy it exists to represent," said Phillips. "I say that for three reasons: suppression of candidates, suppression of voters, and suppression of debate."
As much as the Democratic Party says it is a champion of democracy, it doesn't seem interested in promoting and protecting equal access and choice in elections. It only supports small "d" democracy as long as it benefits the interests of the party.
US Rep. Phillips identifies himself as an independent-minded Democrat. He believes in fiscal responsibility and that there is a crisis on the southern border -- two positions that are not often associated with members of his party.
By appealing to a broad range of voters, he became the first Democrat to win in Minnesota's 3rd congressional district since 1958.
"We did it with a simple notion: Invitation, not confrontation," said Phillips. "I am really disappointed with a country and a duopoly that believe that demeaning and degrading 50% of your customers (in this case voters) is a path to success."
"I won't stand for it, and I am not going to sit down and shush up and play by the rules set by the two parties designed to protect their power."
Phillips is an adamant supporter of systemic reforms that will provide greater competition for both political parties. He is a "huge fan" of ranked choice voting, supports open primaries, and believes gerrymandering reform is important.
He says his mission is to "expose the truth, increase transparency, reduce corruption, and make sure we create an electoral system that is accessible to as many people as possible, and we incentivize and inspire more candidates than we're generating right now."
It is easy to point at the other side of the political aisle and talk about all the ways the "them" in partisan politics need to do better. It is harder to be a candidate who is willing to call out their own "team," and tell people (essentially) 'my side is just as guilty.'
But that is exactly what Phillips has done during his presidential campaign -- and the congressman has had a rough road taking on the party's interests just to get on the ballot in several states, much less have his voice heard in the press.
"I believe we should be promoting participation, not suppressing it, more debate, not less, and encouraging candidacies, not undermining them," said Phillips.
Check out the full conversation between Phillips and Opdycke above, in which they discuss candidate and voter exclusion in US elections, the DNC's role in suppressing choice, and improvements needed to make the system more accountable to all voters.