Shortly after Bernie Sanders publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton a new hashtag trended on Twitter: #DemExit. The hashtag offered Sanders supporters a chance to vent their frustrations with the Democratic Party and with the sense that their candidate had been pressured into an endorsement. Rather than reach out to these disaffected voters, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ignored them. Understood within the larger narrative that Sanders supporters were just whining brats who refused to concede and move on, #DemExit was dismissed as just more sour milk.
But now that the latest leak of DNC emails proves that Sanders supporters have a legitimate right to feel cheated, #DemExit increasingly seems like an appropriate response to a rigged system.
The new leak shows that the DNC never took the Sanders campaign seriously, even when he was winning state after state. Rather than recognize that Sanders was attracting new voters to the party, members of the DNC chose to mock them and close ranks around Clinton.
There was another hashtag, #StillSanders, that sprung up and was quite active all through the night that Hillary was officially nominated. I was going to do a post highlighting the hardest-hitting tweets from that, but most were far too expletive-laden to share in this forum. It was exceedingly obvious, however, that Bernie’s exhortation and Sarah Silverman’s admonition weren’t resonating with the Sanders folk much. Or at all, really.
If this does come back to bite the Democrats it will be due to the very thing that we conservatives complain about the most: the party’s coziness with the mainstream media.
Up to this point, left-leaning new media have been rather in sync with the mainstream outlets. It was easy to do during the Obama years, as they were all on board with the directive to make the historic presidency seem perfect. More often than not, old media was taking cues and talking points from new.
Enter Mrs. C.
Hillary Clinton redefines “polarizing.” If this woman were a Republican, the media wouldn’t don their “be nice to her because she’s a girl” kid gloves when dealing with her. They would note that even she probably doesn’t like herself half the time. It was always a calculated risk elevating such an execrable human being into another “Historic First” position for the Dems, but they probably figured that a combination of Bubba nostalgia and media cover would be enough to distract the nice people. When even that didn’t convince them, they hedged their bets by rigging the primary process.
Then they got caught.
It is still unclear what the Democrats offered Sen. Sanders that immediately changed him from an inspiring firebrand into a visibly defeated, garden variety politician for the DNC, even though he switched his registration back to “independent” while it was all going on. What is very, very clear though is that the passionate Sanders supporters don’t have a convenient “Off” switch that the party can flip in order to move on smoothly.
The party’s presumptions about the post-convention Sanders supporters is what may be the most mystifying thing in all of this. Admittedly, it never did seem to pick a clear emotional side on how it felt about them, vacillating between a dismissive attitude and enough worry that it had to undermine his campaign behind the scenes. Obviously, it should have erred on the side of worry.
One thing that was very clear from the beginning was the passion of the Sanders movement. That passion is what made it an overnight sensation. It is remarkably naive for the Democrats to have thought that the passion could be easily managed after a few head fakes to the far left by Hillary during the primary season. Sure, what they want is insane, but the Democrats have been steadily moving leftward for thirty years and can’t be too upset that Sanders merely attempted to make them be less coy about the end game. Bernie gave the Democrats’ coveted youth vote a taste of the Soviet American dream they’ve been tiptoeing towards since the late 1960s and the kids aren’t patient enough to play the long game. The concessions in the platform haven’t satisfied the throaty lust for socialism Bernie spent almost a year firing them up for:
The recent fights over the DNC platform reveal a real lack of support for progressive policy, especially on key economic issues. As Marcetic reported for In These Times “there’s no denying that the platform compromises on certain core progressive values.” While some suggested that the new platform was a “win” for Sanders, in the end the platform submits to corporate will on many issues.
Committee delegates selected by Clinton and Wasserman Schultz voted down several measures dear to progressives’ hearts: “amendments advocating single-payer health care and a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation, several proposals to halt climate change, language criticizing Israeli ‘occupation’ of Palestine and an amendment explicitly opposing the TPP trade agreement.” As Marcetic shows, delegates to the committee with corporate ties were among the most avid in promoting pro-business policy completely out of step with the sort of progressive values that once separated Democrats from Republicans. Unsurprisingly, those very same delegates were the ones connected to Clinton and Wasserman Schultz.
Yeah, lunatic stuff, but Hillary and Tim Kaine both keep using the phrase “progressive agenda” on the campaign trail. They might want to get an intern to Google “progressive” for them so they can find out exactly what that entails. Remember, the only reason the Congressional Progressive Caucus signed onto Obamacare is because they were promised that it would eventually lead to single-payer.
If you are wondering just how otherworldly this election has become, trust me, it’s even weirder than you think. Salon is complaining about Democrat “collusion” with the media too:
The corporate media was no ally to the Sanders campaign. With AP calling the primary for Clinton before California, New Mexico, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota were set to vote, many Sanders’ supporters felt betrayed by the press. As Bill Boyarsky reports for Truthdig, “The story was not just a scoop. It fed the hostility and cynicism of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ fervent supporters.”
The Guccifer 2.0 leaks also reveal a disturbing pattern of collusion between the media and the DNC to support Clinton and not Sanders. Luis Miranda, the national communications director for the DNC, communicated with reporters from both Politico and the Wall Street Journal in efforts to discredit Sanders.
Welcome to what the rest of us have been fighting for decades, little proggies.
The Salon post concludes with what could be the biggest problem going forward for the Democrats — that the party isn’t taking the email leaks seriously:
Much in the same way Clinton blew off her own email scandal, we basically have crickets from the DNC and party leaders. The failure to take responsibility or reach out to disaffected supporters has created a real blowback where voters who backed Sanders are irate. Now many supporters just think the party is corrupt– and they have point.
There’s your Bizarro World: Salon is echoing conservative frustrations with the Democrats.
As always, it remains to be seen if the Republican Party can effectively take advantage of this turmoil. Well, it remains to be seen if you are still holding on to any faith in the GOP. As I voted #GOPExit a couple months ago, I’m not a big believer. Still, there are signs of some opportunity for it to do so.