Recent revelations that former CNN contributor and now Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile leaked debate questions to the Clinton campaign during the Democratic primaries calls the fairness of our democratic process into question.
In July, several top-level DNC officials, including former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were ousted for apparent bias towards Hillary Clinton. It has now has come to light that current DNC chair Brazil also showed favoritism towards Clinton.
As reported by Politico, Brazile is quoted in a leaked email released by WikiLeaks telling the Clinton campaign, “From time to time, I get the questions in advance,” and then proceeding to recount a question concerning the death penalty that mirrors a question Clinton encountered on a debate on Mar. 13.
It is debatable the extent to which the bias top DNC officials held for Clinton helped her prevail over Senator Bernie Sanders, though no one can question that the mere existence of this bias is troubling for our election system, which is supposed to have an equal playing field for all candidates.
DNC officials are entitled to their own beliefs, but problems arise for our democracy when these positions of power are used to tip the scales for one candidate over another.
Note that Brazile was a CNN contributor when she allegedly shared the debate questions, and not yet DNC chairwoman. It is still disturbing to think a member of the media, who is meant to help inform the people on matters of government, used her position of power to give a candidate an edge over her competition.
In an ideal democracy there would be no such advantages for either candidate; both would walk in blind into what is being asked, and have to rely solely on their knowledge for the possible subject matter to be discussed.
Instead what appears to have occurred is that the Clinton campaign received advance notice on the topics of the debate. Such an act taints one of the hallmarks of our democracy, the debates which are often used by voters to evaluate just how prepared and informed candidates are on the matters they may have to contend with if elected president.
It can be argued that Clinton would have given the same answers to the debate questions even if her campaign had not been made aware ahead of time of the subject matter of said debate questions. Though the issue that remains is that the fairness and equal playing field held sacred for our democracy has been thrown into disarray, all over a few leaked debate questions.
It is apparent that there is an institutional bias towards the Clinton campaign. Questions remain if Clinton herself is to blame for this bias, as the emails only show her campaign receiving the questions. Whether they prompted for their release is uncertain.
In regards to Wasserman Schultz and the other outed DNC officials, it appears they only displayed favoritism for Clinton. We should expect our party leaders to refrain from tipping the scales for any one candidate.
Bias of any sort by party elites threatens to undermine democracy. Democracy is supposed to be based on allowing voters to choose the best candidate on the grounds of their character and merit, not on the connections they may have with party power brokers. Such blatant favoritism by top party officials can lead to an uneven playing field between candidates.
With all this being said one can still vote for Clinton with a clear conscience, despite the bias shown for her by party elites, no evidence has arisen that illegal action was taken to assure her victory. Sanders supporters in particular have a right to be outraged since he was not afforded the same support by party elites as Clinton was. Still, they must understand that the bias displayed by the party officials does not necessarily equate to rigging the election in Clinton’s favor, and that the majority of voters chose her of their own free will.