© Josh Sager – July 2016
During the Democratic Primary contest, many Bernie supporters were derided as conspiracy theorists for asserting that it looks like the DNC had heavily tilted the playing field in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. DNC officials were outraged when people called them biased and many Hillary supporters simply assumed that the Bernie voters had sour grapes.
Last week, Wikileaks released a trove of DNC emails, conclusively proving the anti-Bernie bias within the DNC. While these emails are damaging and prove some extremely unethical conduct by DNC officials, there is apparently more on the way and Wikileaks has promised additional releases in the coming weeks.
It is important to note that the DNC is a supposed to be a NEUTRAL entity during any primary contest and is banned by its charter from having any bias towards any primary candidate. While I have seen some say that Bernie isn’t a “real” Democrat, so the DNC’s bias isn’t wrong, this is simply inaccurate and, from the moment he was announced as a Democratic candidate, the DNC was bound not to work against him.
Before I explain the biased actions exposed in the Wikileaks emails, here is a short primer of most damaging DNC biases that we have seen before these releases:
- Debbie Wasserman Shultz limited the number of debates during the primary to 6 and scheduled them to times where very few people would watch (e.g. on Saturday night, competing with an NFL playoff game). This benefits the candidate with more name recognition (Hillary) and made it very hard for Bernie to gain traction.
- The DNC has helped Hillary launder a significant amount of donor money through joint fundraising. Hillary donors donated to over 30 state DNC funds, then the DNC would funnel those funds up to the national DNC and put it under the control of Hillary’s campaign treasurer. This allowed Hillary to legally evade contribution limits while attaching strings to DNC money that she could yank if they refused to support her.
- During the primaries in several key states, there were serious voting irregularities where hundreds of thousands of people were disenfranchised by party rules. New York is the most extreme example of this and approximately 54,000 Democratic voters were mysteriously purged from the party rolls in the Bronx (Bernie’s old home) alone, denying them the ability to vote in the primary.
- Previous email leaks have demonstrated that DNC staffers were tasked with creating defensive talking points for Hillary Clinton as early as May 2015. They specifically aimed to “muddy the waters around ethics, transparency and campaign finance attacks on HRC” and were spending money to craft this narrative before Hillary even officially declared her candidacy.
The Wikileaks emails add to this list of DNC actions that gave Hillary an advantage in the primary. They show that DNC officials colluded behind the scenes to attack Bernie, using religious bigotry, whisper campaigns and planted stories to undermine his campaign.
In leaked emails, DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall discusses how the DNC should call Bernie’s religion into question in order to hurt him with very religious voters. In effect, Marshall wanted to accuse Bernie of not being a “real” Jew, but rather an atheist, so that the DNC could tar him with anti-atheist bigotry. Polls show Americans are very hesitant to vote for an atheist (43% refuse to support an atheist as opposed to 6% for Jews) and making a significant amount of voters believe that Bernie is an atheist would have harmed him in the south significantly. It appears that this suggestion was acted upon during the Flint primary debate in March, where several strange religious questions found their way into the lineup of the night (e.g. “Senator Sanders, do you believe that God is relevant? Why or why not?”).
Put simply, this is an example of politicians using religious bigotry to gain votes. Beyond the fact that the DNC should be neutral—thus any attempts to attack Bernie by the DNC are wrong—the idea that Democratic leaders would atheist-shame a political opponent is simply reprehensible. It is no different than Trump attacking Muslims and using them to enflame angry white Christians, and anybody who was involved in this attempted attack should be removed from their position of power.
The DNC National Press Secretary, Mark Paustenbach, proposed creating a false “Bernie Narrative” that his campaign was disorganized and failing. He wanted to leak various quotes to friendly media outlets which create the perception that the Bernie camp is in disarray so that people no longer see him as a viable candidate. In an act of supreme self-obliviousness, he concluded this email by deriding Bernie for thinking that there is some DNC conspiracy against him.
Emails from Debbie Wasserman Shultz show disturbing levels of collusion between leadership at the DNC and powerful media figures. Not only did several supposedly nonpartisan news outlets (e.g. CNN) let the DNC preview their stories, but it appears as though DNC leadership has had significant influence over media narratives. For example, when Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC pointed out that the DNC appears to be biased against Bernie on Morning Joe, DWS contacted both Chuck Todd and Phil Griffin (the head of MSNBC), demanding that she stop and apologize. DWS and Griffin had a meeting over breakfast and, while we don’t know what was said, there was no further discussion over the idea that the DNC primary may be rigged by Mika.
Numerous interview requests of DNC officials were summarily declined because the reporter was considered a “Bernie Bro” by the DNC leadership. While the DNC officials would give time and scheduling reasons to the reporters in question as an excuse why they couldn’t do certain interviews, the internal emails reveal that they didn’t want to talk to reporters who covered the (now proven) perception that the primary was being unfairly biased.
In addition to the substantive efforts that DNC officials took to undermine Bernie’s campaign revealed in the emails, there was a general tone to many of the exchanges which illustrates a deep, entrenched, bias. In many exchanges, DNC officials used “we” language when referring to the Hillary campaign, and there was a general air of distain for Bernie, both as a candidate and a person. While everybody is entitled to their opinions, this speaks to the climate that leadership created and helps explain why so many
Given that the DNC Chair, the top financial officer in the DNC, and the top messaging officer in the DNC have been exposed as biased against Bernie, it is no surprise that the organization has taken the biased actions that it has. This isn’t to say that all DNC chapters or officials are biased, merely that the leadership at the top was corrupted and the organization followed their poor leadership.
The exposure of the anti-Bernie bias in the DNC leadership forced DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz to resign her position and give up her speaking platform and the DNC convention. In what can only be described as either an act of political hubris, record-breaking tone deafness, or simply arrogance, Hillary Clinton decided to hire Debbie Wasserman Shultz to act as the Honorary Chair of her 50-state plan mere hours after she was forced to resign her position. Put simply, this looks like payment for services rendered and Hillary’s choice to embrace the chairwoman hours after she was forced to resign for helping rig the primary in Hillary’s favor is one of the worst things she could have done to retain Bernie voters.
This is what Hillary has now opened herself up to in the coming weeks…
Donald Trump is a lunatic who would ruin our country and the stupid, short-sighted, unethical, and immoral conduct of the DNC leadership may very well help him win the general election in November. By trying to rig the primary, they have alienated a huge percentage of the Democratic base, which will likely depress turnout in the general. While I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary there are many Bernie supporters who will not be as pragmatic and who will either stay home (don’t do that—at minimum vote progressive in all down-ticket races), vote green (a good, albeit futile, idea if you don’t live in a swing state) or even vote Trump (lunacy) because they want to punish the people who disenfranchised them.