The DNC as Chicken Little

“The sky is falling! the sky is falling!” “Donald Trump is gaining on Hillary!”

It’s Chicken Little time at the DNC.

Following the dust-up at the Nevada Convention all artifice of civility has been suspended.

No, I’m not talking about the handful of Bernie supporters in Nevada, but the hyperbolic response from the DNC as it closes ranks with what it thinks is the best argument for shutting Bernie down.

This is what it’s come to.

Bernie has been saying since he entered the race that he is in it until the Convention, but apparently the Party elders didn’t believe him.

You don’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs and you don’t mount a revolution spouting nothing but platitudes and  pleasantries from a place of no-contest.

Suddenly, Bernie Sanders is evil incarnate and has to throw in the towel so as not to ‘damage’ Hillary.

Newsflash: she’s already damaged; she was damaged coming into the race.

As intelligent and experienced as she is, she persistently transmits inauthenticity and entitlement in an election year that despises both. Even if there were no Bernie Sanders, these traits would not win the day.

And dragging out her equally damaged husband as her standard bearer in the crisis only makes matters worse. It plays to the worst stereotypes about women; the ones we had hoped the first female presidential candidate would kick to the curb.

This is a teaching moment for the DNC: never assume.

Why was Martin O’Malley the only card-carrying Democrat to challenge Hillary for the nomination? There certainly is plenty of talent out there, from Elizabeth Warren to the Castro Brothers and Joe Biden; but no, this one was for Hillary. It had been earmarked by the Hillary camp since 2008.

O’Malley’s only hope was to conduct himself so well in the campaign that he would become the Vice-Presidential nominee. No one was looking at poor O’Malley; quite a decent guy, at that.

Bernie was supposed to be a blip of comic relief; here today and gone tomorrow. No one would really support a democratic-socialist for president! Maybe if Hillary was not so damaged from the start, Bernie’s revolution wouldn’t have taken hold; but she was, and it did.

Just like the Republicans, who refused to believe that Jeb Bush wasn’t inevitable, the DNC made the same mistake about Hillary; only the RNC got ‘lucky’ and a bona fide arsonist named Trump dispatched Jeb and set the revolutionary tone for his own party long before Hillary even took notice of Bernie. Oh, the humanity!!

Now, the RNC is way ahead of the DNC at restoring itself to at least functional unity.

The DNC is still in denial of its diagnosis while the RNC is already at the acceptance phase in the process. They may not like Donald Trump but it it won’t be the first time they’ve gotten lucky with a feckless idiot, and they know that. Think George W. Bush and the miraculously (and posthumously) rehabilitated Ronald Reagan.

Instead of watching and drawing a valuable lesson from Bernie’s ability to engage a whole new and untapped electorate, easily matching those enlisted by DT on the other side, the Hillary Camp (and the entire Party hierarchy) plucked superficially from the message to garnish Hillary’s presentation, like parsley on potatoes.

Only the parsley proved to be much more appetizing than the potatoes and Bernie began to actually win votes no matter how much the convoluted rules worked against that end.

Even burying the debates in impossible time slots did not protect the presumed nominee from damage.

Bernie was apparently not expected to lay a glove on Hillary, and when he actually raised salient questions about her ties to Wall Street, her judgment on matters of war, and the sacred memory of her husband’s global economic policies, the Party twitched visibly but still plastered a strained smile on its lips.

Bernie, they said, would ‘toughen’ Hillary for her ultimate clash with Trump, and that was ‘a good thing.’ Behind the scenes, the Party of Hillary tightened the screws on the inevitability machine even more. Unfortunately, their collective slip was showing, and some Sanders supporters, new to the rigging process, began to cry ‘foul.

The Nevada DNC’s biased chairing of ‘their’ caucus proved to be the last straw for a a few attendees who became loud and abusive in their language, but not violent.

Despite breathless news reports to the contrary, there is no evidence that a chair was thrown. Video shows one man picking up a chair, then putting it down again. There were nasty phone calls and social media outbursts, but these have not by any means been confined to Sanders supporters.

The Sanders campaign condemned the bad behavior, but also condemned the biased conduct that had prompted it. Apparently Bernie was expected to dress in sackcloth and cover himself with ashes, never mentioning the pattern of bias that has permeated the primaries under Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. He did not, and the floodgates of Democratic establishment figures aching to tell him to F.O. was suddenly opened.

One state, one caucus, a handful of Sanders supporters behaving badly, and everyone is insisting that Sanders should do the ‘decent’ thing and drop out before the convention.

Meanwhile, finally under some impulse control by the RNC, Trump has risen in the polls and Hillary has fallen. Much as the DNC would like us to believe that this has something to do with Bernie’s continued resistance to her inevitability, that is not the case.

Trump is proving to be an armor-clad wrecking ball of nastiness. He needs no help from anyone. It’s what he does.

With her extremely long and checkered political history, Hillary is the softest target imaginable.  Whether or not she can successfully prevail in the general is looking more and more like an open question.

Further alienating that energized Bernie base by going all Head Prefect on their chosen candidate will not help.

Suggestion? Stop insisting that it’s up to Bernie to unify the party ‘because that’s what Hillary did in 2008.’ This isn’t 2008 and Bernie’s revolution won’t be politically disciplined by a promise of support for 2016.

If the Hillary camp values the support of Bernie’s base, they will have to convincingly demonstrate a willingness to include at least some of that base’s priorities in the party platform, not just pay temporary lip-service and claim to be a ‘progressive.’

Dollars to donuts she won’t call herself a ‘progressive’ in the general, and that’s okay because its only a word; but if she continues to beat a path to the right as she has already begun to do with that remark about having Bill balance the country’s checkbook, she will only reinforce Bernie supporters’ conviction that she doesn’t represent our interests.

There’s only so much that Donald Trump (or Hillary) threats can do to blackmail a disenchanted electorate into turning out to hold their noses at the ballot box.

Time to reassess the fairness and efficacy of a two party system.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

14 thoughts on “The DNC as Chicken Little

  1. Spot on, Sue. Especially: “Stop insisting that it’s up to Bernie to unify the party ‘because that’s what Hillary did in 2008.’ This isn’t 2008 and Bernie’s revolution won’t be politically disciplined by a promise of support for 2016.”

    What I find especially puzzling is the double standard among HRC supporters. On the one hand, they have spent years preparing for this race. They know how to work the political system and the party apparatus. They’ve memorized the rules, they have their people in positions of power at the national, state, and local levels. And to secure the nomination for HRC, they’re leveraging every resource at their disposal.

    On the other hand, Bernie, when he tries to take advantage of whatever resources are available to him — including things like the California primary and the Democratic convention — well, he’s painted as selfish, or power hungry, or unhinged. As a guy who just doesn’t know when to shut up.

    It’s crazy — and it doesn’t speak well of HRC, who (as you point out) has been a flawed candidate from the beginning. (I groaned when she recently said that Bill will be her point person on the economy. Spare us. Please.)

    I’m realizing (yet again) that Bernie really has put the lessons he learned as a high school long-distance runner. You keep going, you keep pushing, right to the end. Because other people are gonna get winded. Their legs are gonna turn to mush. Their spirits will sag. And then Bernie, whose energies never seem to flag, closes in for a big finish. (If only I had the same stamina re: podcasting. :-) )

    Will Bernie win? I dunno. It’s very much a long shot. But it’s still a race, and he’s clearly in it. And so are the good voters of California.

    Thanks, Sue, for another great post.

    1. You’re doing great, Alan! You’re capturing the human side of what will be important historic records.

      Everyone should visit:

      “Searching for Bernie” captures the heart and soul of the Bernie Sanders revolution.

  2. I… wow. There are some things I agree with here, and things I don’t.

    But then there’s the ridiculous hyperbole:

    Bernie began to actually win votes no matter how much the convoluted rules worked against that end.

    (caucus rules have in fact been one of Bernie’s core advantages)

    …the Party of Hillary tightened the screws on the inevitability machine even more

    (it was minority support for Clinton that tipped the scales — ie, the core of the Democratic Party)

    …everyone is insisting that Sanders should do the ‘decent’ thing and drop out before the convention.

    (I’m sure some people are saying this, but most people I’ve heard, supporters of either or both candidates, are fine with Bernie staying in through the primaries to demonstrate the support for his agenda.)

    These things send me the signal that any conversation in response would really not be welcome. I used to be a GMD regular, because of the insight into state and Democratic politics and the lively discussions. I don’t swing by very often these days, and this post — full of “Bern down the [Democratic] house” propaganda — ensures that this habit won’t change any time soon.

    And finally, there’s this:

    Time to reassess the fairness and efficacy of a two party system.

    I don’t even know what that means, aside from sounding like a politically naive college student. I mean, the litany of complaints given in the post itself (with varying validity) are about the institutional nature of a party organization. They have nothing to do with the “two-party system.”

    1. Well, Tim, we disagree.

      I’m okay with that. Just because we don’t share the same views doesn’t mean you are not welcome here.

    2. Tim,

      Some rules have worked to Bernie’s advantage, but many have not (i.e., closed primaries, debate schedules, financing via the DNC, and more).

      You’re right about the party’s core — minority voters who will support the nominee, no matter who it is. The struggle, then, is for independents — the voters Bernie has long argued he’s well positioned to attract. (But you know that.)

      And when you say it’s really about “the institutional nature of a party organization” and not the “two party system” — well, I don’t get it. We have two major parties, each with its own organization. And somehow this election cycle, the two parties and their organizations are failing to provide a home to huge numbers of voters who believe we can do better.

      Sue says something is broken. I agree.

      1. Hi Alan —

        Sue was chiefly addressing issues she perceived in the Democratic party as an institution, or of consequent issues of fairness in the primary.

        Obviously I differ in my assessment of some of those things. It doesn’t mean I don’t heartily agree that there is a profound need of reform in the Democratic party, its priorities, and (to the extent the party can control or influence them, vs the states that hold them) the Democratic primary elections.

        I believe we’ve been working (and making progress) for over a dozen years now on building a coalition that can do this, and in making the Democratic party increasingly into more of a home for the political left, after a long rightward slide. I think there are huge reasons for hope, not least a young, left-leaning demographic tide that is rising in the country.

        However, none of this pertains in the least to the mathematical realities of a plurality-based electoral system — for Congress, and the President — which dictates a two-party system in the US.

        Certainly it is bad for everyone when one of those parties (the GOP) has become crazy and nihilistic, but the only way we can affect that hot mess is to just keep defeating them. (We must do this, but whether they get sane and reform, or collapse and are replaced is largely up to them.) Meanwhile, I want us to focus on building a better Democratic Party — and not to end a potentially invigorating primary by just throwing bombs and stomping off.

    3. Beg to differ senator. Personally see no hyperbole & from what I have seen simply true and merely so. Dem party now in a Tasmanian devil-channelling hyperbolic huff now that it looks like contested convention is in the offing as they’re supposedly the well-bahaved sane ones.

      Buut…the real problem is Bernie is now a threat to Hellary or we would not be having this conversation & Dems would not be bullying Bernie and breaking the glass hitting Code-Red panic button. Radicals of 50 years ago are blind to the fact that they’re the new establishment and no more open minded than predecessors.

      Disagree with Ms Prent quite often & not of same political stripe at all but don’t believe she deserves insulting remarks from hot-under-the-collar ppl who disagree–one thing is clear in all cases, a nerve was struck–and colors seen.

      Biggest existential threat to democratic process is a silent killer–closed primary voting rule–obviously supported by the two majors – this is bigger than all of your examples imo b/c it excludes a whole and *the* largest voting bloc-Indies, spanning all political spectrums including swing and moderates on both sides who are the ones that in fact decide *all* elections. And bottom has dropped out of HRC demographic-nonwhite vote. But it’s dropping b/c of the Clintons’ & nothing else-chickens always come home to roost. it’s what they do.

      And I believe it’s unconstitutional & needs to be challenged in scotus which if Sanders makes it hopefully first thing proposed.

      Iowa, Nevada & Arizona–at least–all rigged by one or both parties–that’s ok?

      Personally am not left but Indy, leaned left following Bush & Douglas debacle but jumped from frying pan into fire as Shumlin & Obama far worse & why I will not vote Dem.

      Support Bernie as superior to HRC as he is a decent honest human being & hard worker for We The (little) Ppl & champion for vets but will not vote for him as I reject collectivism. However supporting b/c we do not know how this will shake down — but prefer Bernie to Trump.

      If I can be tolerated here so can anyone, not exactly well behaved but do try. Miss the benevolent anarchist the GMD of old.

  3. Wouldn’t rule out dirty-tricks as in the violent subversives sent in to discredit Vietnam and other protests during that time–just too Clintonian for my blood.

    Party frustration with Bernie outsider-status is complicated due to flaws inherent in two party system. One is the fact that spoilers such as Nader can wreak havoc as in handing election to Bush tho Gore would have won. So if Bernie wants to run on the left–one choice–the party he has caucused with and served alongside throughout decades-long career. And as we all know there are
    plenty of pols who have done just that but in fact are a semi-subversive element while riding on party platform using the apparatus-which is worse?. Campbell – Sears – Mazza – Galbraith come to mind.

    Also, Dem party under Obama has busily attempted a takeover of our nation rendering it a mere European-style socialism,

    so what the hell is the dif. Oh I see-he can’t run.

    Now can be seen, as it were, Bernie could have stood alone as an Indy & would now be shellacing HRC while pulling in

    party malcontents and including the large number who depise & greatly distrust the Clintons added to the newcomers–inspired youth–this is the backstory &

    partly the premise of his request for Dem party to let he and supporters in to the party imo.

    Couldn’t make his case if he had not done as well or raised mountains of cash.

    Tacitly understood by the party imo, however open discussion of fine points muddies water; but both are fluent in

    politicalese so contextually understood. Could have been campaigning both as soon as the props, er, “challengers” were removed from Dem stage

    w/o being dogged by party & press to give it up like the Wicked Witch skywriting with broom. So the whining of damage to clinton is moot as he would have been

    damaging her far more if opposing as Indy, she would be getting a double-barrel semiautomatic from both sides by now.

    Biggest issue getting lost-not about Bernie but supporters. Despite party and DWS clearing the runway & rolling out red

    carpet *still* cannot close this deal, point #2. Obama also brought in many young voters, in stark contrast, epic fail

    for HRC as evidenced by desperate dispatching of Steinem & Albright. Scary part is & as Sanders has said, makes poor, I

    call them foolish, decisions. Looking back over her looong career this is par for HRC she makes one fine mess after

    another & was asleep at the switch at 3am Benghazi time. HRC may toe party line but toxic personality will bring in *no

    one*. Her rudeness & Bills shouting down of valid complaints at rallies serves to show how much they actually despise

    the very ppl they wish to reign over. “Bring them to heel”-whaaat??? Happen to think Clintons are closet racists as

    evidenced by similar freudian slipups.

    Bernie whose temper likely exceeds HRC, in contrast, displays self-control &

    truly believe he respects the worth & dignity of all.

    Bernie has devoured delegate count she expected and exposed her and the long litany of flaws she posseses as mere fact. Even

    following party muzzling & now near silence of those important issues he has made, nothing’s changed. And, a it stands msm is

    employing deceptive tactics, intellectual dishonesty — or just plain ignorant — of the *fact* that HRC also does not

    have the needed delegates therefore must rely upon superdelegates who are beholden to no one, #3.

    As her numbers drop happen to believe it is the looming Emailgate & Foundationgate–two separate “criminal” investigations she lied about as FBI does not do “security reviews” but investigates crimes as FBI head Comey reiterated to a reporter question which was seen on msm by all. Can safely bet ass

    that fever-pitch crecendo chorus of bullies is blowback from behind the scenes conversation of party bosses, PACs & donors asking

    tough questions HRC has no good answer for & quite likely wondering if she can make it in the general once the other

    side gets to the kitchen sink phase-plus losing all of the new voters Bernie has inspired. Fact Contested convention appears in crystal ball. Recommend Bernie gets a bulletproof, avoid small, twin-engine planes & find a food-taster.

    Despite millions from Wall St still can’t close deal:

    What a laugh:

    The bottom of it:

    *a version was crossposted

  4. I’ll be quite happy when the primary is over.Bernie or more likely Hillary will have a nasty battle ahead and the stakes are high err yuge!

    Something is broken – much more broken than the Democratic Party’s primary process and it is the Republican party which has gone off the rails crazy.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. It’s nice to know that — on a blog still promoting itself as “reality-based commentary” — there’s are some people with a sense of proportion.

      I did not stop in to pick a fight, I stopped by because I’m feeling pretty heartsick and exhausted with all the vitriol being thrown around… sadly, at least 80% by Bernie supporters in my personal experience. (I hadn’t heard “Bernie’s thugs” until this week, for instance, while I’ve been hearing variants on “Hillary is a monster” for months now.) So I was disheartened to find the top post a somewhat over-the-top assessment of the problems we face.

      I still retain a faith in Bernie’s pragmatic side — not to torpedo the only person/party that can still stop Trump, nor to flush away all the progress he’s made by alienating the party and his supporters from one another — so I expect him to concede after the last primaries and declare he will support Clinton in the GE, and call on his supporters to do likewise. I intend to write him a letter in early June, encouraging him to do so.

      Because we need the new energy and agenda he’s bringing to the party very much, if we want to make reforms to the Democratic party, or to work toward electing state legislatures and a Congress that could actually pass any of the policies Bernie’s talked about. I don’t want us to walk away from that.

    2. Find it disturbing that Trump has made it this far & fear inmates will be running the asylum, so my doggie in this is in a Dem win would like it to be Bernie. Sad day when a Roy Cohn disciple & Hitler devotee gets where he is…in…USA?!?! Still believe organized crime has Trumps’ back, ambitious effort in open convention states helped him greatly. Soo 20,000 in MA switched from D to R? Uh huh. Nevada was stolen-I suspect AZ on both sides also. Unsurprising NV casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson is pouring on the cash-coal.

      But there is talk of a R convention coup–obviously the big-boys are going to keep plot close to the vest. Donald Drumpf & HRC would be well advised to remember the party decides and that is not the head of RNC or DNC they are paid to run party but the delegates & bosses are the party acting as failsafe to protect us from Hitleresque dictators like Trump–hmm.

      HRC doesn’t have the delegates to win nomination. Bernie has a great case to make to the superdelegates. Fortunately current numbers have HRC in low single digits against Trump but Bernie in low double digits. Uncertainties such as 2 FBI investigations are a huge wild card. the widely-circulated 13 minutes HRC lies won’t help. Expecting something in the order of Chicago ’68 in Philly:
      And Cleveland protestes against Trump. He loves to be hated b/c narcissist-boy loves the *attention*.

      Libertarians planning strong challenge with Johnson-Weld achieving outstanding grades pertaining to policies and outcomes in their states as govs’ from think-tanks. Romney and likely other #nevertrump-ers will strongly support though there’s still a cry for Romney run. Math shows a # of high-delegate states they could win with just Romney backing, With enough ching in this thing–Kochs are on board–crystal ball sees states with prominent Republican antiTrump supporters sending those states to Libertarian over R win.

      Soo…in a 3 party scenario with the split vote would send election to the flawed process where anything can happen:
      From 2012 but process the same.

  5. We’re all pretty heartsick and exhausted. I have never said that Hillary is a ‘monster,’ not even close. I said that she was ‘damaged,’ something of which that the DNC has been in denial since day 1. I believe that is a serious miscalculation.

    I am only committed to a progressive agenda and do not particularly care if it is carried forward by Democrats, Republicans or a third or fourth party alternative. Given that the Democratic party has been the nominal standard bearer for moderately progressive ideas through most of my life, it would be nice to see them move forward in that role.

    Hillary Clinton is a very competent middle of the spectrum candidate, but she is not really inclined to reach to the left, especially on matters of war & peace, and I have little doubt that we will see her scurry a little to the right immediately after Bernie passes into her rearview mirror.

    I believe that is as much because she knows how vulnerable she is to attacks from the right as it is because of any real inclination to conservative principles. That makes it all the worse for me.

    I give her the benefit of the doubt and say it is Bill’s feckless risk-taking that has put her in that corner; but that may be giving him too much credit for political control of their shared decisions. Whatever; she is left with a lot of questions and a lot of scars for which to answer. None of which is important to me, but promises to be great fodder for
    Donald Trump’s campaign of popular ignorance.

    I believe that it is the DNC’s fatal flaw that they failed to acknowledge the reality of the situation and put ‘old boy’ type loyalties ahead of the future of their Democratic constituents best interests in anointing Hillary to continue a dynastic lock on the party.

    1. I certainly didn’t mean to imply you were calling Hillary a monster, not at all Sue. (If I’d thought you were operating on that level, I don’t think I would have interacted at all.) That comment of mine was simply reflecting the kind of rhetoric flying around online these days — I keep trying to tell myself it’s the peak emotional point, and that in May of 2008 the rhetoric of denial from the hardliners was pretty uncomfortable too. I’m confident we’ll get through this, and that the worst of it will be over soon.

      fwiw, I am in complete agreement with everything in your comment here. The reason I am a Democrat is that I recognize it as the best vehicle to effect progressive change. As such you could say my identifying with it is chiefly a strategic choice, based on the political system we have.

      (I certainly hope the party’s internal loyalties don’t prove to be a “fatal” flaw, literally speaking, but I’m right there with you in wishing we’d had a much more broad and competitive presidential field, too.)

      And thank you for welcoming me back, even though I was calling shenanigans on some of your points, instead of getting defensive. I respect that immensely.

      1. Back at you!

        Glad to have you speak up here whenever you are so-inclined.

        It would be deadly dull if we agreed all of the time around here.

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