You’d be forgiven for feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day right now. Not only is it early February, but it probably feels as if you lived through the 2016 primary, went to sleep for several years, and then woke up right back at the beginning of 2016.
As happened so many times during that primary, this past week a small state held an election that should have been efficient, clean, and fair, with a minimum of fuss and mistakes, but instead turned into a godawful “debacle” full of “irregularities” that mostly harmed the chances of one candidate, Bernie Sanders. And just like in that 2016 primary, some watchers of this new 2020 primary see that “debacle” as the result of incompetence, others see mere coincidences, and others see outright conspiracy and fraud.
What everyone agrees on is that this was a disaster for democracy that should never happen again.
Let’s break down this very first election of 2020 so we can determine whether it is fundamentally a conspiracy, gross incompetence, or coincidences that are to blame. We’ll begin with a list of everything we know, in chronological order. If you’re in a hurry, you can scroll down to the heading “Coincidence, Incompetence, or Conspiracy?” for my conclusions.
A Timeline of the Things We Know
Summer 2019. The Pete Buttigieg campaign participates in at least one of several “Stop Bernie” private meetings in the spring and summer of 2019. The Biden, Warren, and Klobuchar campaigns do not appear to participate in these meetings. (source, source)