The Democratic National Committee’s Unity Commission, which conducted its first meeting on May 5, is yet another symbolic gesture from the Democratic Party that’s meant to manufacture consent without adopting meaningful reforms. The commission’s 21 members are biased in favor of the party establishment; Hillary Clinton selected nine members in addition to the chair and vice chair of the commission. New DNC Chair Tom Perez, a Clinton campaign surrogate, selected three committee members.
This committee is predicated on Clinton supporters’ false belief that party unity can be achieved by courting the factions of the party equally, when in truth, Sanders supporters are disenfranchised from the party and their support must be earned. Party unity won’t be accomplished by symbolic diplomacy in which the Democratic establishment reverberates the mantra “Democrats are united” without making concessions or changing the fundamentally corrupt mechanisms that enabled the DNC to cheat Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic presidential nomination. If the Democratic Party was genuinely striving for unity, it would admit wrongdoing and discuss possibilities to rectify the situation and ensure that it never happens again.
The commission was founded in response to Sanders supporters’ persistent demands that the superdelegate system, a corrupt and undemocratic tool created by the Democratic establishment to rally support for their preferred candidate, be completely abolished. It’s unlikely that many of the committee members who were selected by the establishment—five of which were Clinton superdelegates themselves—will outright abolish the superdelegate system. These superdelegates include Rep. Marcia Fudge, Yvette Lewis, Elaine Kamarck, James Roosevelt Jr. and Jan Bauer. Notably, Kamarck was on the initial commission that created superdelegates in 1982. Sanders superdelegate Larry Cohen is also serving on the commission. Most likely, the superdelegate system will be minimally reformed in a manner that pacifies progressives but maintains the totalitarian power that superdelegates yield for Democrats to prevent any future grassroots nominees from winning the primaries. The likely outcome from this commission is a few mostly meaningless changes that will be cited to suppress progressives’ pushes for reform.
Several of the members on the DNC Unity Commission are examples of why unity within the Democratic Party cannot be achieved by a commission of opposing sides. Sanders supporters’ ideological litmus test for who should be making important decisions within the Democratic Party is overtly violated by several of the committee’s members. Jeff Berman, a Clinton loyalist and commission member, is a former lobbyist for the private prison company the GEO Group and the Keystone XL pipeline. Berman was also hired by the Clinton campaign to whip superdelegates in her favor. Committee member Charlie Baker, former Clinton Campaign chief administrative officer, co-founded the Dewey Square Group, which lobbied on behalf of the health insurance industry during the initial Obamacare debate. The Intercept reported that Baker has also been a registered lobbyist on behalf of the drug firm Medicines Company. The Democratic Party can’t be united by lobbyists and their positions on this committee proves that corporate and wealthy interests run the party.
The Unity Commission also has little authority to re-enact the ban on lobbyists and PACs making donations to the DNC that was struck down by DNC members in February 2017. Rep. Ro Khanna responded to the vote by saying that every DNC member who voted in favor of it should resign. The Democratic Party has no chance for unity while it integrates lobbyists into leadership positions and simultaneously feigns support of the interests of working and middle class Americans. These interests are diametrically opposed to one another. Trying to achieve unity among these opposing forces, one against lobbyists and one that views partnerships with lobbyists as vital to the Democratic Party, is as futile as trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.