Bernie Sanders vs. the DNC

By | 6/17/2016 2 comments
Bernie Sanders and the DNC are set for a showdown in July

On Thursday Senator Bernie Sanders addressed his supporters in a highly-anticipated live-stream address that many in the party establishment were doubtless hoping would see an announcement of the suspension of his campaign, an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and a full-throated appeal for his backers to unite with his rival.

No dice.

While he did pledge to make every effort to ensure that Donald Trump would not win in November, and recognized that while he and Clinton have “strong disagreements on some very important issues,” they were also “quite close on others,” he spent much of the time assuring his followers that the political movement they had started was continuing on to the convention.

“I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda,” Sanders affirmed.

He also encouraged his supporters to get involved in the process itself. “We need new blood in the political process, and you are that new blood,” he said. “I have no doubt that with the energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown that we can win significant numbers of local and state elections if people are prepared to become involved.”

But while many in the mainstream media – those that actually took much notice of the speech to begin with, that is – interpreted that a concession to helping out the party at large, this was clearly not the case. Sanders is well-aware of what he and his grassroots supporters have created and of its potential for the future, even without winning the nomination. In encouraging his backers to seek office at every level (“school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and governorships”) he’s seeking to reshape the Democratic Party from the ground up. And with the backing of millions of passionately politicized voters behind him, he’s well-positioned to achieve just that.

But he also wants to change it from the top down.

The removal of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with the dismissal of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (co-chair the Platform Committee) and former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank (co-chairman of the Rules Committee) from their convention leadership positions have long been stated goals of the Sanders campaign – and for good reason.

Wasserman Schultz’s clear favoritism of Clinton (for whom she worked during the former first lady’s 2008 presidential campaign) could hardly have been more bald-faced. From crafting a limited debate schedule timed for the lowest possible viewing figures, to creating a financial arrangement with Clinton (the “Hillary Victory Fund”) to raise money for the party (and consequently wield influence within the party), her actions have been shamelessly prejudiced.

Not only that, she’d also worked quietly behind the scenes to repeal ethics rules in order to allow lobbyist cash back into the fundraising system, thereby allowing corporate influence over the party’s policy agenda.

The appointment of Clinton supporters Frank and Malloy to leadership positions on key convention committees also provided further proof of Wasserman Schultz’s zealous determination to muzzle any dissent or differing viewpoints come July.

Whether Sanders will succeed in their removal remains to be seen – though Wasserman Schultz has already been effectively ousted in all but name (she retains the title of Party Chair but the appointment of Brandon Davis as Chief of Staff is all but a coup d’etat). But if Clinton and the Democratic National Committee think they’re on track for a nice cozy love-in at the Philadelphia convention, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening.

The upshot:

What much of the mainstream media and Democratic establishment still fail to realize – even at this late stage – is that Bernie Sanders’ campaign is not about a candidate, a brand or a personality, it’s about a political awakening of millions of people who thought there was no alternative on the left to the corporate-sponsored, elitist politics-as-usual.

Bernie Sanders knows that he will have the kind of leverage and influence at this convention to make fundamental changes to the very nature of the Democratic Party and its processes as they currently stand. All he needs to do is stand firm in the face of an establishment that will do everything within its power to stifle him – and that’s something he’s spent a lifetime, not just an election cycle, proving he’s more than capable of.

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  1. FKN A RIGHT!!!!!!!! What an dead on article. #SeeYouInPhilly when we get #2Philly

  2. When was he ever NOT calling for a political revolution? The news guys always think that he was messaging as part of making a run for office when really the whole time he was running because he had a message. Big difference!