Bernie Sanders’ goal is to transform the Democratic Party, which is already a European style social-democratic party, into a full-fledged vehicle for socialism.
This is why he is still campaigning.
Even though Sanders knows Hillary Clinton will be the nominee, he is not giving up until the end. He is fighting for one reason: so his socialist supporters get to play a major role in formulating the Democratic Party’s platform for the 2016 general campaign and beyond. Now, with the announcement of those appointed by both Sanders and Clinton to the important platform committee of the Democratic Party, we already can see his influence.
Worried about keeping the support of Bernie’s people after her nomination is wrapped up, Clinton is being forced to tilt further to the left than she would like, making it much harder for her to shift back to the center in the general election campaign. A move to the center is necessary if she is to win the support of centrists, moderates, and independents. However, Bernie’s pressure has successfully gotten her to cave to his demands for a left-wing platform.
Let’s examine some of the five people Bernie Sanders has gotten appointed to the platform committee. What stands out?
First, their well-known animosity to Israel and support of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — and also, yes, of Hamas in Gaza.
The most prominent name among the five is the professor and radical black activist Cornel West. West has toured with Sanders and opened up rallies for him. West is a leading BDS activist.
He has said that the Gaza Strip is “the ‘hood on steroids.” In 2014, he wrote that the crimes of Hamas “pale in the face of the U.S. supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians.”
Like Sanders, West has long considered himself a democratic socialist, and has in the past worked with Dissent magazine and the late Michael Harrington’s Democratic Socialists of America.
The next prominent person appointed by Sanders to the committee is James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. As co-chair of the Democratic resolution committee, Zogby now has a direct hand in drafting the actual party platform.
In 1996, Zogby’s group sponsored a rally at which protesters held signs saying:
[Israeli Prime Minister Shimon] Peres and Hitler are the Same — The Only Difference is the Name.
In 2011, Zogby said the Palestinians are suffering their own “Holocaust.” Like West, Zogby supports the BDS movement, which he calls “a legitimate and moral response to Israeli policy” and to Israel’s “bullying tactics.”
Zogby told the Washington Post that his aim is to draft a platform that meets the needs of both Palestinians and Israelis, but from his own work it is most clear he is an enemy of the current Israeli government. He is also a fierce critic of the mainstream view about which group in the Middle East is responsible for the failure of peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis over the past few decades.
Sanders also picked Rep. Keith Ellison. The only Muslim in Congress, Ellison is a major critic of Israel and will undoubtedly stand with Zogby and West. All three will work — probably successfully — to implement a strong anti-Israel stance in the official Democratic Party platform.
How will Clinton — who has recently attempted to portray herself as opposed to BDS and as a strong supporter of Israel — choose to deal with this?
Will she make a tactical judgment about votes rather than a moral judgment?
On domestic policy, all of the platform committee members will favor leftist economic and political measures. Perhaps the only disagreement will be over backing Hillary’s more modest health care proposals vs. Sanders’ demand for fully state-run socialized medicine.
Clinton’s choices for the platform committee also reflect how she has been pulled towards socialist positions to satisfy Sanders’ supporters.
Wendy Sherman, a former deputy secretary of State, was a lead negotiator in the Iran nuclear talks; recall the Obama administration maneuvered to prevent Congress from voting on the agreement.
Neera Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress — a pro-Clinton think tank that has sought to create dialogue between Israel and the American “progressive” community.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, current head of the Democratic National Committee, was allowed to select four members of the 15-member platform committee. Note that Sanders attacked her for supporting Clinton throughout the primary process, which is perhaps why her selections are also quite revealing.
Wasserman Schultz appointed Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings as the committee’s chairman.
Cummings fiercely defended Obama’s Iran deal, often getting into arguments with Republicans while it was discussed in congressional committees on which he sits.
Cummings does happen to represent a district with a large Jewish population. So he “supports” Israel to the extent one can do so while favoring the Iran deal, and he is involved in a program that sends African American high school students from Baltimore to Israel.
Rep. Howard Berman of California is a legitimate pro-Israel legislator. He supported sanctions against Iran in 2010 when he was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
To balance these two (plus one other pro-Israel member), Wasserman Schultz also appointed the far-left Rep. Barbara Lee of California. Lee stands out as perhaps the only elected representative further to the left than Bernie Sanders.
Lee once was a chief aide to a leftist congressman from Oakland, Ca., Ron Dellums. Lee joined 59 other House members in signing a letter following the 2009 Gaza war that urged the Obama administration to pressure Israel to allow more aid to Gaza. She spoke — along with Ellison — against a resolution condemning the 2009 UN report on the Gaza war. That resolution was supported by the Israeli government and the mainstream of the American pro-Israel community.
Lee, along with Cummings, Ellison, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez — a Clinton appointee to the Committee — have all been endorsed by the political affiliate of the left-wing J Street. That group, as we fully know, has been leading the opposition to sanctions against Iran and has lobbied strenuously amongst the American Jewish community to gain support for the Iran deal.
In April of 2009, journalist Mark Hemingway wrote an article about her appropriately titled “Comrade Barbara.” He revealed Lee to be a supporter of Fidel Castro:
[Lee is] still in the thrall of just about every discredited personality and idea the Left has produced in the last 50 years, and utterly convinced of her own righteousness.
Lee was a good friend of the late thug and leader of the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton, who escaped to Cuba for three years to dodge trial on various charges. Of Newton, who murdered opponents and made a living dealing drugs in the ghetto in Oakland, Lee wrote in her biography that “despite his roughness, my mother really liked him.”
Instead of acknowledging that the Panthers had become a full-fledged criminal organization, Lee argued that anything “bad” the Panthers did was the fault of the FBI, which actually carried out the measures which they blamed on the Panthers.
Perhaps the most egregious action Lee took came during Ronald Reagan’s presidency over the island of Grenada. Until the military intervention carried out by Reagan, Grenada was in the hands of a tyrannical Marxist-Leninist regime. It was negotiating for a new extension of an airfield so that the island could be used by Soviet jets in order for the USSR to get a military presence in the Caribbean.
After the collapse of the communist regime, the “Grenada papers” were published. They included correspondence between Lee and the island’s rulers in which she advised them on how to issue reports on the airfield to make it appear that it was not being built for military use.
In one letter, Lee wrote of Rep. Dellums:
[Dellums is] really hooked on you and Grenada and doesn’t want anything to happen to building the Revo[lution] and making it strong.
Hemingway concludes his article with this:
Perhaps the reason Lee has made dozens of trips to Cuba is that outside of her Berkeley congressional district, the oppressive Communist dictatorship is the closest place to home where she can be said to speak for anybody.
Perhaps Wasserman Schultz believes that Lee’s appointment will soften Bernie Sanders’ disdain for her. However, she has given Sanders yet one more ally who will undoubtedly support all of his far-left, socialist suggestions for the forthcoming platform.
Hillary Clinton’s negatives are now slightly below those of Donald Trump. The forthcoming far-left platform might satisfy Bernie Sanders’ deluded young followers, but will assure a further loss of support for the Democrats from centrists and independents.