In a recent forum of the seven Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair candidates, all of them, including Sen. Bernie Sanders backed candidate Rep. Keith Ellison, refused to acknowledge the Democratic primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton. “There was so little dissent among the seven participants that at one point, when asked whether they thought the DNC tipped the scale for a candidate [Hillary Clinton] in the 2016 primary—a criticism lodged frequently and vociferously by Sanders’ supporters—none of the participants raised their hands,” reported Real Clear Politics.
While these candidates pander to the establishment DNC delegates, who control the election of the DNC chair, their dismissal of the way Sanders’ supporters were treated during the Democratic primaries prevents healing of the divide between progressives and wealthy corporate donors. Even asking this question during this forum propagates the false narrative that the DNC did nothing wrong during the Democratic primaries, yet any supporter of Sanders knows that he would have won against Donald Trump if the DNC didn’t predetermine the primaries in favor of Clinton.
“We, as your supporters/volunteers/donors and advocates for the People’s movement are deeply concerned about what appears to be systemic election rigging within the Democratic primary and the failure of the Sanders’ campaign to address problems as they have revealed themselves,” wrote Sane Progressive Debbie Lusignan in an open letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders. The letter is attached to a Change.org petition that asks Sanders to address the undemocratic aspects of the Democratic primaries, and it has nearly 40,000 signatures. Though Sanders acknowledged the undemocratic nature of the super delegate system, which was manipulated by the Democratic Party in favor of Clinton, he opted not to address many of the other issues with the primaries. Clinton’s election loss against Trump illuminated the many flaws inherent in allowing the Democratic Party to run their preferred candidate.
The DNC chair candidates also defended the ban on lobbyists and PAC donations that former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz rescinded so that Clinton’s campaign could keep up with Sanders’ fundraising. Ignoring PAC donations, the DNC Chair candidates focused on the lobbyist aspect of the ban during the forum, and Rep. Keith Ellison said he would put the ban a vote to DNC delegates. Many of the delegates happen to be lobbyists.
Before an email was leaked by Wikileaks that confirmed that the debate schedule during the primaries was fixed to benefit Hillary Clinton, former DNC Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard, Sanders supporters, and media pundits pointed out that the limited debate schedule favored Hillary Clinton.
During the primaries, voter suppression and fraud were rampant. In New York, 126,000 voters were purged from voter rolls. In Arizona, long lines in the state’s most populous county prevented thousands from voting. Bill Clinton effectively shut down a major polling site in Massachusetts by entering it while votes were being cast, and Clinton partisans deemed his electioneering “legal.” In Nevada, Sen. Harry Reid called in favors to casinos to load Las Vegas caucuses with Clinton supporters, and video evidence reveals many of them were not registered to vote. At the Nevada Democratic Party State Convention, when many of Clinton’s delegates failed to show up, the Party Chair broke rules to tilt the number of delegates back in Clinton’s favor. When Sanders supporters protested, the Nevada Democratic Party and DNC spun their protests to attack Bernie Sanders. California had a laundry list of problems even after The Associated Press undemocratically called the primaries for Hillary Clinton the day before the state voted.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also intervened on behalf of Hillary Clinton by making unprecedented endorsements of two Democratic Primary Candidates in Florida: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Florida Senate Candidate Patrick Murphy. Their primary opponents, Tim Canova and former Congressman Alan Grayson, had endorsed Bernie Sanders.
After Wikileaks released DNC emails that confirmed that former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her staff were working on behalf of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party suppressed dissent from Sanders supporters at the Democratic National Convention and banned popular Sanders surrogate Nina Turner from introducing Sanders.
Additionally, when Wikileaks released Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails, the Democratic Party lied and used fear mongering to prevent the content from being discussed, despite the fact that the emails suggested that several mainstream media journalists were actively colluding with the Clinton campaign.
If the Democratic Party is serious about mending the divide between progressives and establishment Democrats, the issues that affirmed that progressives weren’t welcome in the party need to be acknowledged and meaningfully addressed. The Democratic Party won’t improve their standing by denying that these events occurred, and their failure to acknowledge them now undermines the party’s ability to address them when they inevitably arise again in the future.
The Democratic Party will not win majorities in Congress and the presidency without progressive votes. While expecting progressives to fall in line under the threat of Republicans may work for some votes, the Democratic Party will continue to repel working and middle class voters who have lost faith that the Democratic Party belongs to them and not a group of corporations and wealthy donors.