The Rift on the Left: The Internal Politics of the Democratic Party

This was not a good look.

Now it is time to address the internal politics of the Democratic Party.  If you manage to get through this post, it might make you mad. You might be mad at me for dredging all this up again. Or you will be mad because you’re being reminded of things that got you hot in the first place. Or I might make you mad because I’m telling you about things you didn’t know and wish you hadn’t.

Overall, there are some truly worrying things happening in the Democratic National Committee and within the party on a national level. Unfortunately, I will have to look at the last presidential election because it exposed the party’s current problems. However, there are more problems that have been developing for decades. I do not trace the latter in this post, but they are apparent.

This post is big because in it is a complex topic and I will be looking at six areas that pertain to the DNC and Democratic Party at large. I will start with the unity tour.

Was the Unity Tour a Success?

From what I gathered, it was a disaster.

In April 2017, Bernie Sanders and DNC Chair Tom Perez announced that they were going on a multi-state “Come Together and Fight Back” tour (A.K.A. the unity tour) as part of a 50-state strategy for the Democratic Party. The tour would take them to “red” and “purple” states, where other Democratic leaders would also speak on topics like the minimum wage, criminal justice, and welfare reform. The tour began on Monday, April 17 and took them through states like Kentucky, Maine, Florida, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, and Nebraska.

The unity tour got off to a rocky start in Maine. When the leader of the Maine Young Democrats addressed the crowd and asked the attendees why they came, she was met with chants of “Bernie.” Yet when she tried to talk about the DNC chairman and the party’s platform, she was cut off by boos.

From the beginning, the differences between Bernie Sanders and DNC chairman Tom Perez were apparent. The two did an interview on Tuesday, April 18, with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. During that interview, Sanders said that he still considered himself an independent. Tom Perez stopped short of giving his support for “Medicare-for-All” and he spoke in platitudes.

Well, when we put hope on the ballot, Chris, we win. When our opponents put fear on the ballot …

After this tour, all Mr. Sanders got out of it was a lousy T-shirt a bill. In May, Sen. Sanders moved $100,000 from his 2016 presidential campaign to reimburse the DNC for the cost of the unity tour with DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

Jokes Aside …

Every aspect I mentioned in this section highlights what is currently wrong with the Democratic Party, particularly in terms of its internal politics. After the tour’s stop in Maine, Fiscal Times columnist Liz Peek stopped by Fox Business and summarized just about all the current problems of the Democratic Party.

I will use this as a jumping off point to delve deeper into these topics.

And I add this: The unity tour was always destined to fail. There can be no unity without a consensus and there will be no consensus until the Democratic Party cleans its own house. For one thing, the DNC was hit by two serious lawsuits, both which highlight longstanding problems the party has refused to deal with.

Really … There Are Lawsuits Against the DNC?

Yes, two class-action lawsuits were started against the DNC in the past year: One was started in June 2016 alleging the DNC of fraud. The other accuses the DNC of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The former is more pertinent to this series, but I want to discuss the latter because it is very important and at issue is a cause that is near and dear to progressives.

1. The Fraud Lawsuit

In June 2016, attorney Jared Beck of the law firm Beck & Lee, based in South Florida, talked about the class-action lawsuit that was brought against the Democratic National Committee and then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee began in earnest in mid-2016. The lawyers behind the lawsuit argued that the DNC violated Article 5, Section 4 of its own charter, which expressly forbade the organization from working with one campaign to decide which Democratic candidate would represent the party on a single ballot. In this case, the lawyers were alleging that the DNC worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The hearings for the class-action lawsuit were initially blocked in August 2016 by the DNC, which claimed that it was not properly served with the subpoena. The committee also requested that the case be dismissed after it was refilled on September 2, 2016.

Why the Lawsuit Was Filed

Beck laid out six main claims he and the other lawyers were making:

  1. Fraud in that the DNC lied about being neutral during the Democratic presidential primaries (i.e., they sided with Hillary Clinton to the detriment of other candidates, especially Bernie Sanders).
  2. Negligent misrepresentation, which was similar to the first claim but “a slightly different legal theory.”
  3. A violation of Section 28-3904 of the District of Columbia Code, which meant that the DNC and Wasserman Schultz engaged in deceptive conduct (i.e., the two lied about holding a fair primary).
  4. Unjust enrichment, which would call for refunds.
  5. A breach of fiduciary duty claim. (This pertains to the DNC charter.)
  6. A claim for negligence in regards to securing donor information.

Here’s the pertinent part of the Charter (Article 5, Section 4):

The National Chairperson shall serve full time and shall receive such compensation as may be determined by agreement between the Chairperson and the Democratic National Committee. In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.

Beck said the lawsuit was in part based on the revelations from the files shared by Guccifer2.0. Beck also let it be known that the suit was not about money. It was about democracy and convincing the DNC to make important changes to its processes. This was a sentiment expressed by the men present when the DNC was being served.

Who the Classes Were

This lawsuit involved three classes:

  1. People who donated to Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign;
  2. People who donated to DNC during the primaries; and
  3. Members of the Democratic Party who were allegedly denied an impartial process.

Startling Statements

In a U.S. District Court in South Florida during an April 25, 2017 hearing on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Bruce V. Spiva, a lawyer for the DNC, made some questionable statements.

First, Spiva argued that the organization did not have to honor the “political promise” of neutrality given it its charter and that the DNC was within its rights to choose a presidential candidate regardless of what the voters wanted.

And the fact that the money has – I know that my distinguished colleague on the other side has several times said that, ‘Well, money makes this different,’ and it really doesn’t in this context. You know, again, if you had a charity where somebody said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna take this money and use it for a specific purpose, X,’ and they pocketed it and stole the money, of course that’s different. But here, where you have a party that’s saying, ‘We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding,’ we could have – and we could have voluntarily decided that, ‘Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to do and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.’ That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the Court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer these questions.

Spiva dug in further. At one point the lawyer was arguing that the term “evenhanded and impartial” was too vague, comparing the use of those words to someone calling themselves a Baptist. He also tried to compare the political promise the DNC made to the promise Donald Trump made to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Strange Call

In early Late May/Early June, Elizabeth Beck, Jared Beck’s wife and one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, received a mysterious call from a person inquiring about the lawsuit against the DNC. According to Beck’s secretary, the person who called likely used a voice changer. After the call ended, a Google search of the phone number that was picked up by the caller I.D. (305-936-5724) brought up DWS’s Aventura office in the results.

At 4:54 p.m. today, an individual called our law office from “305-936-5724.” See attached photo of the caller I.D.

The caller refused to identify himself/herself, but asked my secretary about the Wilding et al. v. DNC et al. lawsuit. My secretary stated that it sounded like the caller was using a voice changer, because the voice sounded robotic and genderless — along the lines of the voice changers used when television show interviews are kept anonymous. The caller concluded with “Okey dokey,” after my secretary gave the caller public information about the case.

After the call ended, a simple Google search of the phone number “305-936-5724” shows that it is the phone number for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ Aventura office, See attached screenshot.

What just occurred is highly irregular and we will be filing the instant e-mail with the court forthwith.

The Dismissal

The fraud lawsuit was dismissed in late August 2017. The judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge William Zloch, said that while the Court assumed the claims made by the plaintiffs were true, he was not sure such a case could be weighed on based on the evidence presented. The first part (the assumption of truth) is just a legal term to say the case was well-pled, but the judge made a fair point. The lawyers planned to appeal (or re-file), but the future of the case is uncertain.

2. The Labor Lawsuit

The Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia paid out nearly $1 million to staff members and local institutions from leftover money that was raised to stage the event in late July 2016. The bonuses handed out ranged from $500 for interns to more than $300,000 for the executive director. Some more leftover money went to numerous organizations, including the School District of Pennsylvania, which received $750,000.

In November 2016, a class-action lawsuit was started by 40-50 field workers from across the country who felt they were being short-changed. The lawsuit specifically names the DNC, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and five other state party organizations.

The Democrats raised a $85 million for the four-day 2016 Democratic National Convention. The hosting committee was left with a $2 million surplus. All but one of those bonuses totaled more than the workers in the lawsuit class made during the entire 2016 campaign.

The regular campaign workers were listed as “Exempt” so they could be paid lower than they should have. Up and until 2016, the floor for and “Exempt” employees was $23,660 a year and a little over $10/hr. The workers were paid a flat rate of $3,000 a month, which would put them at $17.30/hour during a normal 40-hour work week. However, they said they were working 80-90 hours each week without overtime pay.

In a post for Extra Newsfeed, Amy Sterling Casil asked an important question: How can the Democrats “Fight for $15” when they won’t even pay their own low-level employees fair wages?

To be honest, Democratic leaders are not really fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr. Some are willing to raise it to $12/hr. However, this lawsuit is establishing the fact that Democrats have paid their own employees “below market value” while claiming to fight to raise the minimum wage.

What I Think

I’ll concede that the second lawsuit might have a better case, but there were some huge implications for the first lawsuit if it was allowed to continue. For one thing, people like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and John Podesta would have to be deposed.

I still don’t know if that would have led the plaintiffs to a victory. For all intents and purposes, it would have been hard for them to prove their case, let alone for the information that came out lead to an enforceable victory.

However, there was too much smoke in 2016 for there not to be a fire somewhere.

What Happened During the Primary?

As I said before: People hate to be told things are rigged. I will add that they hate it when things are rigged. This is something the Democrats are being accused of doing and I will say there is validity to this charge.

Yes, I believe there were shenanigans during this past presidential election. In December 2015, the voter information of 191 million Americans was exposed; someone had to use that information. And the failed recount initiated by Jill Stein once again reminded us the vulnerabilities of American election systems. However, I don’t agree Russians were behind all this.

To be certain, I am suspicious of Russia because it would make sense that the country would try to hack into our systems (and the systems of other countries as well). But I am more concerned with the bad actors we have in our borders. Our systems were indeed hacked, but we do not know for certain who the culprits were (and yes, there had to be more than one).

Were the Democrats behind some of the shenanigans? I think it’s certainly possible because neither of the major parties are above cheating and there are methods that could be deployed to manipulate results. Also, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to show that the Democratic National Committee was not impartial during the primary.

Here are the areas I will look at:

  1. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Position As DNC Chair
  2. Endorsements
  3. Superdelegates
  4. The Hillary Victory Fund
  5. The Actual Primaries and Caucuses
  6. Campaigning at Polling Places
  7. Outright Sabotage
  8. The Internal Communications of the DNC and Clinton’s Campaign
  9. The Fallout

1. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Position As DNC Chair

Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned in disgrace. While admirers of the erstwhile DNC chair may have felt that was unfair and there was no point in trying to appease “whining” Bernie Sanders supporters, the truth of the matter is there was good reason for Wasserman Schultz to resign.

The former DNC chair made a series of decisions that definitely benefited Hillary Clinton. Why didn’t she allow for more debates, why did she allow the primaries to be switched around, and why was she so quick to take away the Sanders campaign’s access to their own voter information?

The notion of Wasserman Schultz’s neutrality was already undermined by two things:

  1. She served as Co- Chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
  2. Will she was DNC Chair, Wasserman Schultz still held a seat in Congress. That became a factor when Tim Canova challenged her in Florida’s primaries. He also dealt with a problem with NPG VAN.

Wasserman Schultz was angered by the suggestion that she was not being impartial where Sanders was concerned, but she wasn’t neutral at all. Despite her assertions that she was impartial, her decisions, the fact that she let it be known that she despised Weaver, and her response to the Nevada caucuses undermined her cause. Why did she just assume the reports that Sanders delegates threw chairs were true without saying she was looking into those reports?

Additionally, as soon as Wasserman Schultz was terminated, she was given a ceremonial position on Clinton’s campaign. How was that not a bad look?

2. Endorsements

During this past election, much was made about Hillary Clinton’s endorsements, but for good reason. Why did I say this?

Party endorsements, which are part of what is called the “invisible primary,” are important because they have an effect on the actual primaries. Voters tend to trust the judgment of establishment figures within the parties and likely vote for the consensus candidate.

By June 7, 2016, Hillary Clinton had a total of 224 endorsements from Democratic members of Congress and governors. She had most of these endorsements before she even announced her candidacy. These endorsements were used to point to Clinton as the consensus candidate, but what would have happened if she didn’t have those endorsements before she even ran?

3. Superdelegates

What about the superdelegates?

Superdelegates are Democrats who are in at least one of these three categories:

  1. Democrats who hold office. California Jerry Brown and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren were in this category in 2016 (and still are).
  2. A notable party figure, like past or present presidents. Bill Clinton fits in this category.
  3. Select Democrats who had positions in organizations, like state Democratic parties, which are affiliated with the DNC. Debbie Wasserman Schultz fell in this and the first categories.

The Democrats have superdelegates but the Republicans do not. This feature of the Democratic nominating process was instituted in the 1980’s as an extra layer to ensure that the best candidate was put forward for the general election. They can vote for whomever they want but in the past.

While there people may have questioned their existence, that wasn’t really an issue until last year. While superdelegates can still serve as a way to sway the voting public toward one candidate before primaries, most have voted the way most voters in their states went.

Things were vastly different during the 2016 election cycle. Clinton immediately had over 400 of the superdelegates in her back pocket off the bat and most of them went for Clinton regardless of how people their states voted.

4. The Hillary Victor Fund

The fact that the Hillary Victory Fund existed is perhaps one of the biggest pieces of evidence of collusion on the Democratic side. Also, the Hillary Victory Fund was a joint super PAC established between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC even before the DNC relaxed its rules against corporate funds.

The HVF was a slush fund, with which many out of state donors could essentially skirt campaign finance laws. The changes in campaign finance law facilitated the creation of the super PAC, but there will still individual limits. The HVF got around that by allowing wealthy donors connected to the Clintons to send money to 33 32 participating states (the remaining states declined because they felt the deal was undemocratic).

Most of the U.S. states which participated in this scheme with the promise they would get some funds back for their parties and down-ticket races. In return, they had to secure superdelegates for Hillary Clinton. In short, Democratic officials from 32 states were bribed.

These states were also being extorted. Basically, the people who were chosen as superdelegates in those states that received HVF funds had to support Clinton — even if Sanders won their states — or they and their state parties would be cut off.

You want to know what makes this even worse?

The states didn’t get much in return for their cooperation. According to a report from Politico, less than 1% of the funds from HVF actually went back to the states.

5. The Actual Primaries and Caucuses

Now, here’s the big part.

On one hand, there were problems during the election due to clerical errors and the messiness in state election systems. For example, in New York, there is a haphazard state-county system.

But besides that: Both of the major parties were guilty of foul play.

While the Republicans did things that affected the general election, their rule changes tainted the primaries, as well. For instance, in many of the states under watch of the Voting Rights Act, many were under Republican control. In those states, 868 polling places were closed since the 2012 election and at least 1 million people were knocked off voter rolls across the country.

What role did the Democrats play in that county and others? Consider the following:

  • Registration Problems
  • Voter Purges
  • Caucus Shenanigans
  • Vote Flipping
  • Provisional Ballots

As it turns out, most of this crap has been in the Republican repertoire for decades. It’s just that in 2016, more Americans began to realize that Democrats were willing to use these tactics, too.

Now, I’ll admit: A lot of this is circumstantial evidence (ooh, like the Russia thing). However, there is more to the general suspicion of our political parties and some of the action’s I’m talking about were done out in the open.

Voter Purges

In New York (a blue state), there were initial reports  that as many as 125,000 voters were taken off of voter rolls in Brooklyn alone. Brooklyn, NY is Sanders’ hometown and and most voters there would have likely voted for Sanders.

Update (November 2, 2017): It was reported that the New York City Board of Elections admitted to illegally purging 200,000 NYC voters from the rolls.

Registration Problems

In many cases, voters reported that their registrations were switched from Democratic to Republican. These problems were reported in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and other states. Most of these states had closed primaries, where only people from one of the major parties could participate in a particular party’s primary.

Arizona’s March 22, 2016 primary was rife with widespread problems. Maricopa County, Arizona saw some of the worst problems in the primaries. There, there were long wait lines and many reports of changed registrations.

Thousands of Arizona voters complained that their registrations had been changed from Democratic or Republican to Independent. Since Arizona was a closed primary state, the change in party affiliation effectively blocked them from participating in the 2016 primary. Most of the reports came from Democratic voters and most of those voters intended to vote for Bernie Sanders.

The purge in NY was in part facilitated by state registration rules. New York Voters had until October 9, 2015 to change their affiliation to Democratic or to reconfirm their affiliations. Of course, many voters were undecided at that time and Sanders truly gained steam after the Iowa Caucus in February. And many voters were unaware of the deadline or the March 25 deadline for newer voters.

In Washington, D.C., Sanders had to fight just to get on the ballot. From Politico:

Both the Sanders campaign and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid the $2,500 fee to appear on the June 14 Democratic primary ballot on time, but the district’s Democratic Party failed to inform the Washington, D.C., Board of Elections until March 17, one day after the deadline.

Clinton won Arizona, New York, D.C., and all the other states I listed here.

Caucus Shenanigans

Iowa and Nevada, where the most controversial caucus took place, were plagued with problems.


Iowa’s problems were largely ignored, but I found one account of where people were being kept from participating by operatives aligned with one candidate.

The District Convention was to be held before May 1, 2016. However, one Iowan learned that her registration had been changed from Democrat to Republican just three days before the convention was to take place.

That was odd because she was a lifelong Democrat since the 1980s. And on she was able to participate in the Iowa caucuses on February 1, 2016. There, she gave a speech for Sanders and served as Precinct Captain.

As it turns out, this Iowan wasn’t alone. Other Sanders Delegates had registration problems, too. One was another lifelong Democrat who served as a Democratic County Precinct Chair.

In the state, only registered Dems could participate in Democratic caucuses, and Hillary Clinton folks were checking the registrations of Sanders folks very closely. If Republicans showed up, their statuses could be questioned and their passes revoked.

Luckily for the Iowan, she was able to switch her registration back to Democrat and be allowed to participate in the convention. Others weren’t so lucky, and she said the goings on in Nevada made her tear up.

By the way: Hillary Clinton won that state caucus by 2 votes (23-21) and voter turnout was down by 28% there.


At the state convention, there was a raucous because 64 Sanders delegates were locked out of the proceedings. Those who made it to the proceedings cried foul and started booing Lange.

Clinton won the delegate count by 35 votes.

Weeks before the final Nevada state caucus, the Nevada State Democratic Party Executive Board (E-Board) voted to change the state party rules without a quorum from the full Rules Committee and with little oversight. Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange was thus given control that should have been held by the delegates and voters in the state party.

The newer, illegitimate set of rules gave Lange the power to:

  • Control the state convention without a vote.
  • Appoint each and every officer who interpreted and enforced the rules.
  • Appoint every member of the committees who count votes and decide which delegates are registered.
  • Have absolute authority to decide which motions to recognize, who would be allowed to speak, and who would win any voice vote.

These rules were draconian indeed. On top of the above rules, Lange was given the power to throw out delegates who complained or carried signs and placards.

At the state convention, Lange refused a recount of delegates. She called an end to the convention after a voice vote.

Before the convention, there were problems with district caucuses. There were accounts of poor accounting of delegates, people were allegedly bused in from other states (like California) and other unregistered people were sent in to participate in the state convention.

Vote Flipping

In states with electronic voting machines, there were many instances of vote-flipping and anomalies between the counted vote an d exit polling. These problems were especially pronounced in states with unaccountable electronic voting machines, or those without paper trails.

One of those states was Louisiana, another state Clinton won during the primaries.

Provisional Ballots

In states like Arizona and California (which has a semi-closed primary), provisional ballots were all the rage.

While many chose to use provisional ballots, those types of ballots have historically gone uncounted. (And they were the brainchild of Karl Rove.)

On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan testified in the state capitol in Phoenix about the events of the weeks before. She confirmed that voter registrations were mysteriously changed. While she said there would not be a re-vote like many voters wanted, she promised that all provisional ballots would be processed and eligible voters would have their votes counted.

Millions of Californians were given provisional ballots on June 7, 2016. Many of them were independents (who were supposed to be given crossover ballots to vote in the Democratic primary). By the end of the night, 2 million votes were unprocessed. I don’t those votes were ever counted.

As I said before, Clinton won this California. However, Sanders was in a statistical tie in the state according to one last pre-primary poll.

6. Campaigning at Polling Places

Bill Clinton made at least four primary-day stops in Illinois and Massachusetts.

On March 1, 2016, Bill Clinton made two more stops at the Newton free Library in Newtown, MA and the Holy Name gymnasium in West Roxbury, MA. Both were polling places and at least one of those stops contributed to long voting lines.

On March 15, 2016, Clinton made two more primary-day stops; one of those was at a polling place on Chicago’s South Side.

These were clearly violations of election law. And by the way, Clinton’s wife won both of these states. Sanders had previously led in polling in Massachusetts.

7. Outright Sabotage

In at least two documented instances, the Sanders campaign was sabotaged by pro-Clinton operatives. In Massachusetts, Democratic Strategist Joe Caiazzo was hired by the Sanders campaign as State Communications and Political Director. In North Carolina, Aisha Dew was hired as the Sanders campaign’s Statewide Director. In both cases, these directors did the following:

  • Cancelled events.
  • Provided wrong or out-of-date information.
  • Gave bad advice.
  • Blocked needed endorsements.
  • Denied canvasing materials.

All of these moves were designed to demoralize staffers, turn off people who would have endorsed Sanders, and make people believe his operation was completely disorganized. This definitely gave HRC and advantage.

8. The Internal Communications of the DNC and Clinton’s Campaign

Alright, much of the above could be explained away by saying that many people acted independently. But how did all these things benefit one candidate and would so many people feel compelled to tip the scales in favor of the same person?

What is harder to deny (but is denied still) are the internal communications within the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Now, while there was no smoking gun from the leaked emails indicating that the DNC helped to rig the Democratic primaries, these were still bad.

  • The notion of Wasserman Schultz’s impartiality as DNC chair within the organization was blown out of the water. For one thing, she sent talking points to explain why she limited the number of Democratic debates.
  • It was clear that many other DNC staffers, including Communications Director Luis Miranda, hated Sanders.
  • Clinton was being helped by Donna Brazile, who worked for the DNC and previously said Clinton’s run would be a coronation.
  • Clinton staffers hinted at the ability to change around the primary schedule to give Clinton a head start with the Southern states.

That’s not all, but are we honestly going to ignore this?

There was also an unholy alliance with the press, the DNC, and the Clinton campaign.

Let me remind you of the “Pied Piper Strategy.”

Pied Piper Strategy

In this April 7, 2015 email to the DNC, a three-point strategy was laid out to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign by giving her the easiest Republican opponent to go up against.

First of all, the Democratic Party sought to promote the far-right candidates of the GOP, which including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. The point was not “to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party.” The DNC was supposed to elevate “the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.”

The other two parts of the strategy involved discrediting the “more established candidates,” like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and “muddying the waters,” in response to the scandals involving Hillary Clinton.

9. The Verdict

During the primaries, Hillary Clinton won 30/50 states, all the American territories, and the District of Columbia. But it’s fair to ask how many of those were legitimate. The fact of the matter is, all those anomalies in the primaries — outside of the state rule changes and clerical errors — somehow benefited Clinton.

Now, when you look at all the evidence, it looks like our elections systems were in fact hacked. Numerous intelligence agencies have talked about how there were breaches in over 21 states and voter information was involved. I believe that happened, but there was reason for one or more American hackers to do this.

I won’t say that someone in the DNC or connected to Clinton did it because there is no proof. But how can all those instances benefit one person? And if not that, there many things the DNC did do to aid one candidate over all the others (but only one came close to competing). At the very least, we should acknowledge what the party did to help its preferred candidate.

What’s Happening with the Democratic Party at the National Level?

Even after the contentious primaries, Democratic National Convention, and general election, most progressives who voted in the past election voted for Clinton. After she lost, they were conflicted, but most still wanted to give the Democratic Party a chance and help it rebuild.

One important event for Democrats and interested parties was finding Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s replacement. Donna Brazile was only the interim chair, so more people had to step forward to lead the party.

On November 15, 2016, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison was one of the first Democrats to throw his hat in the ring for the DNC Chair position. Very early on, he received endorsements from Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders (Ellison had supported the latter’s presidential candidacy.) Chuck Schumer’s endorsement soon followed and so did Elizabeth Warren’s.

Ellison was more or less a compromise candidate. While he had some progressive credentials, there were questions about his record on foreign policy. Yet he was respected in Democratic circles and he seemed eager to bridge the divide. And since he called out the role of consultants, he was thus a good choice.

The DNC race looked like it would be a cakewalk for Ellison — until President Obama pushed his Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, into the race. Perez entered the race a full month after Ellison entered. The race then developed into an ugly affair that highlighted all the problems with the Democratic Party.

The DNC Race

Soon afterward Perez entered the race, he received endorsements from establishment Democrats. Ellison, however, became the target of a Democratic smear campaign.

That’s right. Republicans were already calling Ellison, who is a Muslim, a “radical” and an “anti-Semite” but Democrats chose to use the same tactics. Among the Democratically-aligned groups and individuals who were critical of Ellison were the Anti-Defamation League, Haim Saban, and Alan Dershowitz. Before, the ADL had spoken in defense of Ellison but it decided to misconstrue statements Ellison made in 2010. Dershowitz threatened to leave the Democratic Party if Ellison was chosen as DNC Chair.

On the surface, the rift between Clinton and Obama Democrats and those who may have preferred Sanders was in play once again. Yet besides a rehashing of the 2016 Democratic primaries, was the clear pull wealthy individuals like Saban had over the party. Overall, the establishment wing did not want to compromise, let alone cede any power to progressives in the party.

In February, Perez won election as DNC chair by garnering 235 votes in the second round of voting. Keith Ellison, who garnered 200 votes in both rounds, was immediately named deputy chairman. Ellison’s new role was just created on the spot as Perez gave his victory speech, as a consolation prize.

That was just the first slap in the face that night.

The Money in Politics Measure

After the vote for DNC chair, the Democrats had another chance to gain the trust of progressive voters. Resolution 33 was introduced by DNC Vice Chair Christine Pelosi.

If passed, Resolution 33 would have banned money from corporate political action committees and would have forbidden “registered, federal corporate lobbyists” for serving as “DNC chair-appointed, at-large members.” Stuart Appelbaum from New York was a co-sponsor of the resolution. He argued that voting for the corporate PAC ban would have showed (Democratic) voters that the party was accountable to them.

Sadly, the measure was soundly defeated. Surely, the measure’s defeat was connected to the presence of political consultants and other wealthy individuals who were voting members of the DNC.

Political Consultants

After the DNC race, I shared news about Democratic consultants. Let’s review:

At the Phoenix debate for the DNC Chair candidates, New Hampshire Democratic Party leader Raymond Buckley angrily stated, that party members should be asking where the money the party has raised went.

For a while, many Democratic Leaders have blamed Obama’s fundraising arm, Obama for America, for competing with the DNC for funds and even siphoning funds from the party.

But a little-known secret is that much of the DNC’s funds are going to consulting firms. From 2015-2016, nearly $1 billion went to eight consulting firms.

Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is with one such consulting firm (Precision Strategies), she is a former OFA staffer, and her presence within the DNC presents a conflict of interest. She is going to serve as Co-Chair of the Unity Commission, which will set the DNC’s new rules. And she made calls in favor of Tom Perez’s run for DNC chair.

Political consultants are cancer that has changed the dynamic within the DNC. Since they wield power in the party, there’s no way they will vote against measures that allow corporate funds and thus put more money in their hands.

These consultants are also self-dealing, so they push the party ever more toward using their services for elections. Consultants are part of a vicious cycle of hired professionals cutting corners during elections. The party has failed in this regard from the top down.


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is an organizing arm for Democrats in races for the House of Representatives but its current problems highlight the party’s problems with consultants and the spending of funds.

In an Op-Ed for Politico, Thomas Mills, an erstwhile political consultant and congressional candidate in 2016, shared his experiences with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, one good and one bad. Those stories led up to his overall point about how insulated and out of touch the DCCC had become since the 1990’s.

Mills made his first visit to the DCCC in 1998. Then, he was working for a longshot candidate in a race against “an entrenched incumbent.” The campaign members were met with cordial and professional guidance. After the meeting, members of the campaign were armed with confidence and a clear game plan.

In 2016, Mills was running for congress in a North Carolina district. He said the DCCC hadn’t contacted his campaign in the first six months. He had to reach out to the DCCC and when he got an audience the meeting only lasted 15 minutes. It was clear the committee would not help him.

In the end, Mills said he would like to see the level of organization and tentativeness he saw 18 years prior. He said Democrats need to be organized from top to bottom and pay attention to as many races as they can.

As it stands, Democrats rely too much on polls instead of testing the waters, talking to more people, and integrating social media and small-money funding into campaigns. These problems are particularly announced in uncontested districts and rural areas.

Sadly, organizing within the Democratic Party has fallen by the wayside. Oh, they’ll still accept phone-banking and canvasing, but there isn’t any money in it.

The Unity Commission

Speaking of organizing …

The Unity Commission On Monday, April 17, Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, announced the list of 21 people chosen to sit on the Unity Reform Commission. The Commission was created due to a compromise made by representatives of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2016 at the Democratic National Convention. The rest of the commission’s members had to be in place by April 26, 2017.

The commission is tasked with examining the acrimonious Democratic primary and making suggestions for the party to improve its nominating process. At issue is what to do with superdelegates, the debate schedule, open and closed primaries, and caucuses.

While the full list of names for the commission was released, it is not clear who was named by Clinton (besides O’Malley Dillon) and who was put nominated by Perez. By comparison, all Sanders nominees (including Vice Chair Larry Cohen) were all distinguished from the other picks. Initially, Sanders was allowed to choose 7 members whereas Clinton had 9 picks.

DNC Firings and Hirings

Does it look like Tom Perez will do anything to fix the problems with consultants, primaries, the fractions within the party, and the DCCC? The signs aren’t good.

In March, Perez shook up the DNC’s staff. He asked all staff members to turn in their letters of resignation. He said he would evaluate them and decide who would stay.

What has he done since then? Well he has nominated more loyalists, lobbyists, and executives as part of the 75 at-large members chosen by the DNC chair. The list includes:

  • Joanne Dowdell, a registered lobbyist for News Corp (Fox News’ parent company).
  • Harold Ickes, who worked in the Clinton White House.
  • Manuel Ortiz, who lobbies for CITGO and Puerto Rican interests.
  • Donna Freakin’ Brazile.

Perez also made waves recently by removing the following people from their positions:

  • Raymond Buckley, the head of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. He also served as on the DNC’s Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee until this week.
  • James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute. He served as co-chair of the DNC Resolutions Committee and on the Executive Committee until this week. He had been on the latter committee since 2001.
  • Alice Germond, who was once a former secretary for the Democratic Party. She is no longer an at-large member.
  • Barbra Casbar Siperstein, the DNC’s first transgender member. She was removed from the Executive Committee.

There is a common thread here. All those who were just let go ran against Perez for DNC chair (Buckley), supported someone other than Perez for the position (Buckley, Germond, and Casbar Siperstein), or supported Bernie Sanders (Zogby).

However, Ellison and Simone Sanders (a former Bernie Sanders spokeswoman) were nominated.

Still, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee now has an overrepresentation of members loyal to the Clintons.

What’s Going on at the State Level?

Right now, I want to highlight a couple of blue states because they might offer a glimpse of how this Democratic Party will perform if by some miracle it’s able to take back both houses of Congress someday.


An organization with self-defeating aims exists in the state of New York. The Independent Democratic Council, the bane of progressives in that state, is a group of 8 Democrats who formed a coalition with the Republicans in the New York Senate. With the cooperation of these Democrats, the Republicans have struck down progressive bills passed by the state House.

TYT Politics’ Nomiki Konst has done some videos on the IDC this year:

The IDC is taking aim at progressive lawmakers in the state.

Without this alliance, New York would have a true supermajority in the state legislature, and things like single-payer health care, legislation to deal with (air) pollution, and legislation to allow for more funding for public schools may have been passed.

Why do the Democrats in the IDC do this? Apparently, they do this to receive campaign funds and powerful positions in the NY Senate.

There are activists who are trying to do something about this. In April, some progressive groups planned to meet up with New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference who represents New York’s 31 District. The protesters wanted to persuade her to break from the IDC and join the rest of the Democrats in the state Senate.

In May, Robert Jackson announced his bid to unseat her. This will be his third attempt to run for that seat. He lost to her last year, so we’ll see how that goes …

There is a steep hill to climb, especially since New York’s Democratic Governor, Cuomo, likes the IDC.

Sadly, New York is not the only state that has problems with their trifecta. There’s one 3,000 miles away that is also struggling to pass some progressive measures.


In May, the California Democratic Party held its convention, during which its new leader was chosen.

The convention was also notable for an outburst for outgoing chairman John Burton. When people in the audience, including members of the state Nurses’ Union, interrupted speakers with chants to get rid of corporate donations and to institute single-payer, Burton said the following:

Hey, shut the … up or go outside!

Parade all you want, but unless we put it on the ballot or elect new Democrats you can walk up and down the street and people still aren’t going to have decent healthcare. So let’s get with it.

Later on, Kimberlee Ellis, a favorite of Sanders supporters, lost to Eric Bauman in the race to be the chair of the California Democratic Party. Over 3,000 delegates voted and Bauman, the choice of the party establishment, was declared the winner by a little over 60 votes. However, some attendees at the state party convention questioned the results. Some people said some delegates’ identifications wasn’t checked.

Ellis didn’t immediately concede, but she later let it go. She said during a radio interview that a couple of older black women pulled her aside and told her that if she kept fighting the results her political career would be over.

How Bad Is the Sanders Hate?

It’s ridiculous at this point.

Now, even if you think Clinton should have beaten Sanders anyway and the primary results should not be questioned, it does not excuse what happened during the primaries and thereafter.

After the Democratic nomination was locked up, the animosity within the party was ratcheted up. Sanders supporters were kicked out of the Democratic National Convention, blasted with sound cannons, openly chastised on live television, and denied the opportunity to have Nina Turner speak because of who she supported during the primaries. Turner, a former Ohio state senator, was supposed to introduce Sanders at the convention.

There are irreconcilable differences between the moderate and progressive wings of the party. Progressives largely despise free trade (as it’s promoted via neoliberalism) and other neoliberal causes, like austerity and privatization, things that have devastated communities for decades. The moderates still insist on centrism and they look at Bernie Sanders — who still calls himself an independent — as an interloper. And that extends to his base.

You might think I’m being cynical here, but I feel that fact that Sanders was charged for a tour that was meant to help the Democratic Party is cynical in itself. It showed that the Democratic leadership didn’t want to invest in its future. And the party still wants Sanders’ email list.

The Democrats’ unity tour in essence highlighted one of the chasms that are still plaguing the Democratic Party. Basically, there were two factions at play here: One is the “moderate” faction (referred to as liberals) that was still devoted to Clinton, Obama, and supportive of DNC chairman Tom Perez. The other faction is the progressive wing that was largely in support of Bernie Sanders, but more importantly, in support of the policies he promotes.

Conclusion/Lead up to Next Post

This was more Clinton-centric than I wanted it to be, but I could not discuss how the DNC has played a role in creating this rift on the left without revisiting the primaries. Of course, Clinton had a natural advantage from the beginning since she had been in the party for so long. But the DNC was tasked with making sure it was “her turn.” The problem is, it couldn’t account for the general election.

Also, what would have happened if Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, or Cory Booker had run in 2016? What if some of the same things happened? And why didn’t they run? Think about that, because it’s another thing that pisses people off and has them questioning just how much was done to help one candidate.

The chasm still exists now because the moderates still held all the power within the party and they refuse to share any of it — or at least throw progressives a bone every now and then.

Why are the progressives trying to work with the Democratic Party? Well, since this is largely a binary system, people on the left have largely decided that the Democratic Party would be a better option than the Republican Party, which has gone so far to the right it’s a miracle it hasn’t fallen off a cliff. And while the Democratic Party itself has moved to the right, its leaders still want to occupy a space on the left — for votes and donations.

In short, a left wing of the Democratic Party is being told to vote for its candidates, hand over their money, and shut the F up. Yet these voters are given nothing in return.

Is that fair and is that any way to grow the party?




Have any thoughts on the subject? Time’s yours.

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