Well, recent troubles with the party management and power structure of the Democratic Party illustrate that they seem to be as busy as the Republicans at tearing their party apart. A Salon editorial by Sophia McClennen published last spring, is one of the most articulate expression of the resentments of a substantial portion of the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. This group seems bent on re-litigating the primary campaign and destroying the party apparatus for its perceived “bias,” rather than focusing on big tent outreach.
Maybe the strategy will work as well as for this wing of the Democrats, as it did for the Tea Party in the Republicans. (Yes, they were successful at dragging the policies of the US vastly to the right — but in the process of that victory, they have broken their party, and damn near the whole country). But I hope the Sandernistas will stop focusing on their resentment for a moment, and regain a laser-like focus on resisting, recruiting, running for office, and generally making themselves a legitimate counterbalance for the Republican Party and a force for rebuilding their own.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Bernie Sanders!! I believe his 2016 campaign was smart, attractive and wildly successful. He helped decriminalize the word “liberal” and even “socialist” in our political discourse. He rediscovered the economic terrain that powered the greatest economy in the world: the rise of the American middle class enabled by policies of corporate regulation, income redistribution, and the “safety net.”
In almost every case, Bernie conducted himself with admirable honesty and integrity. His concentration on policy may have been the better long term campaign strategy than the one chosen by Clinton — however prescient she might have been in focusing on the clear and present danger (and now demonstrably true) of her opponent’s unfitness for office.
That the resentment lingers with the Sandernistas and is directed at Clinton and the DNC — and still NOT the Russians — is proof of how thorough and effective that hacking really was.
It’s just that Bernie’s supporters seem to have gotten stuck in the trap laid for themselves and Independents (and the press!) by a sophisticated Russian Fake News/Wikileaks election hack. The Wikileaks hack essentially created several months of slow-release “news” out of a nothingburger. On the Fake News side, they made smart use of the many flaws in our social media networks and their “algorithms,” as well as their astounding information trove which allows unprecedented “micro-targeting” of voters. (Facebook, Twitter and others — fearful of greater regulation as ‘media’ outlets — are still trying frantically to underestimate the effect viral lies had on the election.)
That the resentment lingers with the Sandernistas and is directed at Clinton and the DNC — and still NOT the Russians — is proof of how good the Russians have become at burrowing into our doubts, magnifying them to hatreds, and exploiting them to turn us against each other. McLennen’s editorial walks through the garden of resentments that were carefully planted and nurtured by the Russian hack and cultivates each one!
The shock and anger the Bernies (and, again, our own national media) felt at the DNC leaks is based on an absurd notion that politics must somehow be “clean” and wholesome. Angered by their “betrayal” by the DNC (Democratic National Committee), these Bernie supporters can’t stop reliving the horror (the horror) that the DNC — an organization which had been built, nourished, and maintained over the last two decades at least partly through the untiring efforts of Hillary and Bill Clinton — might somehow have a natural inclination toward her, and a corresponding lack of enthusiasm for Bernie (-come-lately) Sanders. How COULD this be???
And all the leaks taken together only revealed that politics — as represented by the inner workings of the DNC — is a profession of idealism/rank cynicism; policy/unseemly tactics; private opinions/public pronouncements; honor/manipulation in equal measure.
Any honest campaign veteran will tell you the same is true of every campaign — from presidential to city council — in human memory. How did the Russians surmise that releasing the normal political workings of one party —and not the other — could cause so much damage? How naive are we as a people that this could possibly have worked? Questions for a later time.
Cut to the chase: Did Bernie lose because of Democratic Party shenanigans? Answer: No.
It is simply undeniable that Clinton won the POPULAR vote AND she won the Superdelegate vote fair and square. Why? Well, not because Debbie Wasserman was a not-so-secret Clinton supporter! (The email leaks make it clear that she actually tried hard to keep the primary process fair, in spite of internal attitudes of her staff!)
Bernie lost because of two key, but very obvious, issues: 1) he lost the South by huge margins early in the campaign, and 2) he continued to have trouble attracting people of color to his campaign, so he was unable to earn enough back in the bigger cities where he had his base. In the democratic party, those two losses are fatal. Because of the Democrats assignment of proportional delegates in each state, the fate of the Bernie campaign was essentially sealed after Clinton’s huge Super Tuesday performance.
In spite of these remarks, I do continue to hope that the Sandernistas, whose idealism has helped re-envigorate the Democratic party and unabashedly espoused the liberal, redistributive sentiment that drove FDR, can come to recognize that the big tent, the melting pot, the agitation for ideas, not against people, is our path toward the light. And I want to thank them for their admirable energy and devotion.