The DNC is Wiping Out the Party, Not Bernie Sanders

Democratic Party officials are trying to justify a coup-in-the-making by feigning concern about the damage Sanders will do to the "down ballot" But the damage is already done, thanks to those very Democrats.
According to the New York Times, the Democratic Party establishment is in a frenzy over Bernie Sanders’s rise as the leading candidate in the primary.  

“Interviews with dozens of Democratic Party officials, including 93 superdelegates, found overwhelming opposition to handing Mr. Sanders the nomination if he fell short of a majority of delegates,” the Times reported.  

Fiercely independent and leftwing, Sanders has spurned corporate money and zealously advocated for universal healthcare, a Green New Deal, free college education, comprehensive immigration reform, and ending mass incarceration – all financed by soaking the rich.  

His refusal to genuflect to the establishment or monied interests has been met with deep animosity by party insiders, who are now coalescing around a plan to deny him the nomination at a brokered Democratic Party convention, where the party’s superdelegates can throw their weight behind the establishment’s candidate of choice and overrule the will of the voting public.  

Comically, party officials are trying to justify this coup-in-the-making by feigning concern for all the down-ballot races they believe will lose if Sanders is the nominee. If Sanders leads the ticket, they argue, then Democrats will get “wiped out.” 

Why is this funny? Because that is exactly what happened under Obama.  

During his eight years in office, the Democratic Party became a “smoking pile of rubble,” to quote Party stalwart Matt Yglesias. Writing in 2016, Yglesias went on to say “the story of the 21st-century Democratic Party looks to be overwhelmingly the story of failure” and provided this summation of why: 

“Republicans control the House, and they control the Senate. District lines are drawn in such a way that the median House district is far more conservative than the median American voter — resulting in situations like 2012 where House Democrats secured more votes than House Republicans but the GOP retained a healthy majority. The Senate, too, is in effect naturally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. . . In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans.” 

Everything the Democratic Party establishment fears will happen, has already happened.  

According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Democratic Party lost a net total of 13 Governorships and 816 state legislative seats after President Obama entered office, the most of any president since Dwight Eisenhower.  

The Democratic Party establishment’s obsession with stopping Sanders is deeply rooted in the same fundamental feature that has kept them from even acknowledging, much less understanding, how the Party has been nearly wiped out from the local to the federal level over the past 12 years: an entitlement syndrome that says they are the smartest, most deserving group of people while refusing to take responsibility for Wall Street excess, endless war, catastrophic climate change, mass incarceration and the rise of Trumpism. 

Sanders is an existential threat to the corporate interests that have long dominated the Democratic Party—as well as the legion of consultants, operatives, and media commentators who have become fabulously rich despite the Party’s historic decline. So it’s little wonder that they will stop at nothing to defeat Sanders, even if it means destroying the train on which all their gravy has flowed.  

This point was well summarized by Upton Sinclair, another fiery progressive who challenged the political orthodoxy of his day, when he wrote that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” 

Chris Brooks is a staff writer for Labor Notes. He has written for The Intercept, Jacobin, In These Times and The Nation.


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