The Struggle in the Democratic Party

Yves here. I just started Donna Brazile’s book, and it makes clear how Democratic party grandees like Obama and Clinton disregarded organizational rules and legal agreements. In other words, the lack of transparency and accountability are symptoms of poor governance. Paul Jay of the Real News Network discusses the fight in the party with Norman Solomon, one of the co-authors of the new study, Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis.

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network, live on Facebook and YouTube and, I think, Periscope and We’re going to continue our conversation we’ve been having on The Real News about the fight within the Democratic Party, Donna Brazile’s revelations, and as we go, a bit of a series that’s going to unfold here with our guest, who I’ll introduce in a moment, about just what is the prescription, one could say, for reform of the Democratic Party, if that’s possible, and we’re going to discuss whether or not it’s worth the effort, and if so, what that might look like.

But we’re going to start with Donna Brazile. In Donna Brazile’s book, which I’m sure just about everybody who’s watching this has heard about if not already read, one of the more explosive things she exposed was a sort of financial shenanigan that the Clinton campaign had used to up the amount of money any individual could donate by giving a certain amount of money, a few thousand dollars, to every state party, which in theory is supposed to be used for state funding of local elections. But instead, 99%, apparently, according to Donna Brazile, of that money actually went back to the coffers of the Hillary campaign, back to the DNC, and then the Hillary campaign controlled that money.

To quote Donna Brazile, she says, “The states kept less than half of 1% of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fundraisers that Hillary’s campaign was holding.” It’s interesting that if you actually do the math — because they accused Bernie Sanders of not raising hardly any money for the state campaigns — if you do the math, something like $850,000 or so actually stayed in the state campaigns once all this money gets transferred back to the control of the Hillary campaign. Sanders raised $5 million for down-ticket Democrats, so he actually wound up raising more for down-ticket ballots than the Hillary campaign.

At any rate, the revelations of Donna Brazile, which essentially amount to her accusing the DNC of rigging the primary, the Sanders-Clinton primary — and when Elizabeth Warren was asked directly, “Did you think it was rigged?” she said yes — it’s sparked a great deal of controversy, as you know. For example, this is what happened on CNN. We’re going to run the Hilary Rosen clip.

HILARY ROSEN: For Democrats to spend a second re-litigating this primary fight could not be stupider. If we’re going to take Donna at her word, then you have to read the whole excerpt, because what the excerpt said is Hillary Clinton bailed out the DNC financially and controlled the staffing of the DNC, but Donna also said in that excerpt, Nina and Don, that she went door to door at the DNC and could not find a single shred of evidence that the actual results of the primary were tilted one way or another. And so if we’re going to comment on the book, we ought to go all the way and say that actually Donna said that she found no proof and no evidence at all that the system was rigged.

NINA TURNER: Since you want to go there, this is really about a DNC that lacks accountability and transparency, period, and we can deal with more than one thing at a time.

HILARY ROSEN: That’s not the issue. That’s not about rigging an election.

NINA TURNER: We have to restore the faith and credibility of the Democratic Party, and statements like you’re making doesn’t help.

PAUL JAY: All right, let me introduce our guest, Norman Solomon. Norman is the co-founder of, and he’s co-author of a new report, “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis.” Thanks for joining us, Norman.


PAUL JAY: There’s kind of two arguments there. One, let’s start with the first, that now’s not the time to rehash all of this, that Trump represents a kind of — they are not using this language, but I will — a kind of neo-fascism. There’s a broad front called the Resistance, and people like Hilary Rosen and others are saying that this isn’t a time to, they use the word re-litigate what the DNC did or didn’t do. There should just be a constructive outlook in terms of reforming the DNC. Don’t rehash who did what to whom, and focus on attacking Trump. How do you respond to that?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Ideally, there’s a united front against the horrific Trump presidency. There’s not usefulness in getting united behind bad strategies and undemocratic internal processes of the Democratic Party. After all, “Democratic” is the first name of the party, and when we see so clearly that contempt for basic democratic principles were in play and in force inside the Democratic National Committee, then it doesn’t work to just shrug and say well, that’s the past so let’s move on. The reality is that the same basic forces, the political corporate tendencies and power, that held the DNC last year still control it this year. So it’s all well and good to say hey, just move on, but we can’t move on without being real about what happened and what continues to be in play in terms of the top-down power at the DNC.

PAUL JAY: The media has on the whole been very antagonistic to Donna Brazile, at least the media I’ve seen, led of course by MSNBC, and I’ve seen CNN, especially the first few days after Brazile’s book was started to be released by the Washington Post. There was one report I saw, it was a CNN journalist, who just lambasted Brazile. We couldn’t find the clip, but NBC had released this agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC, and according to a couple of sentences in that agreement, the money that Clinton was controlling and the power she had over the DNC was all supposed to be directed towards the general election, which would have been appropriate. But NBC later actually, it got revealed, when people look at the dates, and I understand NBC even had to retract this, that the dates actually showed it was clearly about the primary, and Donna Brazile clearly makes that this control of Clinton was all about the primary. But the attack continued. Here’s Robby Mook, a former campaign manager for Clinton, on CNN.

ROBBY MOOK: You know, politics is politics. People have to go out there and say what they need to say. I think it’s dangerous to say that this contest was rigged. We can’t make the case to working people in this country that we’re going to stand up for them and we’re going to fight for them if we’re fighting each other. We can’t do that. Hillary Clinton won this primary with almost four million votes. That’s a bigger lead than Barack Obama had over her when she lost and conceded in 2008. The idea that the DNC could rig a contest frankly is laughable, and here’s the last thing I’ll say. The caucus contests within the larger primary are the contests that are run by the party. The primary elections are run by secretaries of state. Those contests, the caucuses that were run by the party, Bernie Sanders won overwhelmingly. So if we look at what the party actually managed in this process, Bernie Sanders won those contests. I think we only won three of them, and we barely won Iowa. So there’s just no evidence to back this up.

PAUL JAY: So Norman, what do you make of that point, that the caucuses were controlled by the party, Bernie won the majority, and the DNC didn’t control the elections in the states, so how can you accuse the Clinton campaign and the DNC of rigging the primaries?

NORMAN SOLOMON: A significant side note, a footnote, is that the Iowa caucuses, pivotal at the very start of the season, were run in an extremely shabby and questionable way by the party. So if I were Robby Mook I wouldn’t boast about how the caucuses were run by the party, but more fundamentally, getting hung up-

PAUL JAY: Hang on for a sec, Norman, what do you mean by run in a shabbily way?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Oh, the count of the votes during the Iowa caucus night you wouldn’t accept at a student council race. It was funky to say the least, problematic. There seemed to be thumbs on the scales in terms of just counting up in the caucus rooms who had won, and it’s very dubious whether Hillary Clinton actually won the Iowa caucuses, even though officially she did. Fundamentally, whether we get caught up in the word “rigged” or not, the reality is — and we knew this way before Donna Brazile’s book — the reality is that there was a tilted playing field. It was not a level playing field. The DNC was tilted for Hillary Clinton from 2015 on, and the reality is, as we know now from the Brazile book, that the Clinton campaign at the outset of the primary season had control over, and veto power over, who was hired in basic positions such as communications director at the DNC.

People can try to clean up the mess like Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, but the reality is it was wrong. It was wrong how the DNC operated. It was not even-handed. It was a violation of the DNC’s own charter, which commits theoretically the party and the DNC to being even-handed throughout the nomination-selection process for president. So there’s a big problem, and unless the people at the top of the DNC acknowledge the problem, then we’re fated — and required, really — to keep fighting this battle.

PAUL JAY: And the battle includes not just the battle against Hillary Clinton, but people involved in this “progressive wing,” as people are calling it, of the Democratic Party were also many of them dealing with the policies of Barack Obama. In Donna Brazile’s book, one of the interesting revelations was the extent to which the DNC, the party itself, was millions and millions of dollars in debt, and we know during the Obama years many — a majority, I think — of state legislatures were taken over by the Republicans. At many levels, the party was kind of being demolished across the country. And it’s interesting, on CNN, at the same time when Hilary Rosen was on, there was a Republican, a former advisor to Bush, Scott Jennings, and he actually makes an interesting point about Obama’s role. Let’s roll that.

SCOTT JENNINGS: It is amazing to me what no one’s pointing out, that the President of the United States at the time, Barack Obama, had left his Democratic National Committee in such a shambles that not only was Hillary Clinton having to fight off Bernie Sanders, but she knew that if she were to get the nomination, she had to simultaneously bail out the DNC so it could be a viable entity for the general election. And this really to me falls at the feet of Barack Obama, whose path of destruction through the Democratic Party for eight years is completed by these Brazile revelations.

PAUL JAY: I know the right-wing use of Brazile is certainly not meant to kind of strengthen any progressive fight anywhere, and particularly not in the Democratic Party, but it seems to me what Jennings is saying has a lot to it. When you look at Barack Obama’s policies that led to such growth in inequality across the country … we know the numbers of the, what is it, something like 90% of the post ’07-’08 crisis-crash income gains went to less than 1% of the population. That plus the destruction of the infrastructure of the Democratic Party all helped create the conditions for the election of Trump. Certainly this needs to be part of the diagnosis too, doesn’t it?

NORMAN SOLOMON: These are points that were elaborated on in great detail in the report released three days before the first excerpts from Donna Brazile’s book came out, and that is the task-force driven report called “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis”, which I co-coordinated with Karen Bernal, the chair of the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus. Everybody is invited, by the way, to go to the web, read that report, that autopsy report, at the website, and one of the points that we emphasize throughout the autopsy is that in eight years of the Obama administration, the President’s affinity with, support for and from Wall Street, cut the legs out from under the traditional working-class support for the Democratic Party.

And the money problem that the DNC fell into with the neglect from President Obama was in its own right a huge problem, and also a marker and a tracker for the way in which the Obama presidency helped to get Obama, obviously, reelected but was devastating for down-ballot Democrats. When you have during the eight years of the Obama administration a loss of more than 1,000 state legislative seats, loss of Democrats to Republicans, around the country, when you lose the Senate and you lose the House on Capitol Hill, and somehow the President comes up high and dry and keeps hobnobbing with and stocking his cabinet with all these corporate flacks, and in some cases billionaires like Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce who helped to bankroll Obama’s political career in the first place, then it is a fundamental problem about the Democratic Party at the top. And there are really no indications that the governing body of the national party, the DNC, has come to terms with that reality in any way other than continuing it.

So this is what the battle is really about, as we come to the last weeks of 2017, when we look to the elections coming up in 2018 and beyond, is a struggle for the Democratic Party. Will it be the party of Main Street or Wall Street? And the claim … and, incidentally, Donna Brazile is a long-time Clinton loyalist but she’s willing to look out for herself now and sell the books and so forth … but the reality is that the power structure at the DNC that Donna Brazile has always been part of, and that the current chair, Tom Perez, is very much part of, that power structure is all about serving the donor class, the big donors, those who can provide six-figure checks with the flick of a hand in the checkbook.

And the pretense, the fallacy, and the betrayal, really, of working class people, of young people, of people of color from the hierarchy of the Democratic Party is the claim that somehow we’re going to be getting along with Wall Street and we’re going to help Main Street. We saw, and you alluded to the transfer of wealth further upward, Paul, during the Obama administration, this an absolute falsehood. This is in reality a division of labor that is being called for and enforced by those in power in the Democratic Party that effectively, they look at working-class people as those who are supposed to come up with a requisite number of votes during an election, but it’s the people who are at the top donor strata, Wall Street, big corporations, those who serve and represent and are at the top of the big banks, they are the ones who are the masters, largely, of national Democratic Party policy. Not entirely, but largely.

And so when it comes down to deference to messaging and messaging priorities in terms of who gets the money of these Democratic Party campaigns, the emphasis is on shifting the party more and more in a corporate direction. That’s why in our report, “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis”, we focus on how so much money in 2016 … and still, even in Virginia … so much money from the Democratic Party goes to messaging supposedly persuadable so-called moderate Republican voters. And it’s a way of saying to people of color, young people, working class people generally, we want your votes but our policies and our outreach and our messaging will set you aside as being secondary.

PAUL JAY: I think it’s particularly interesting, Donna Brazile’s critique, even attack on Obama. During the Obama years she was number one cheerleader on CNN for the policies of Barack Obama, but she called Obama and Clinton, she talked about dealing with these two enormous egos, and a lot of people have critiqued Obama for continuing, really, the Bush-Cheney imperial presidency, the idea that the presidency’s above the law, above everything else, and in Obama’s case, certainly above the party. The idea of a real party with party structure in theory introduces a certain kind of democratic process, and Obama had no interest in that after he had this campaign, his first campaign particularly, but second, which was all about online and mass movement and house parties and small donors. All that went by the wayside once he was President. I guess part of what Sanders did is he kind of reignited a fight within the party to actually build some party structure, and now we see from Brazile’s book, in spite of and against the DNC, which supposedly is supposed to be there to defend party structures.

NORMAN SOLOMON: I think that’s right, and I want to recommend to people the cover story in the current issue of The Nation magazine by William Greider, who’s been covering the Democratic Party for several decades. In this piece in The Nation, titled “What Killed the Democratic Party?” he summarizes our autopsy report and quite correctly characterizes it as a call for rebellion and for working people, for young people, people of color to gain control over the party that in theory represents them and, in fact, largely does not. Greider, I think quite astutely, sums up that we have this challenge now to organize effectively, to point out what the Democratic Party really is, not what it claims to be, and to see that there’s an opportunity here. We’re down in the hole, we do not have a lever to pull that can move the Democratic Party in a progressive direction, and yet there’s tremendous organizing going on.

And as you referred to, Paul, I think Bernie Sanders did reignite a struggle that has to take place, because as we say at the very outset of the autopsy report, we have two huge responsibilities in this historic period. One is to fight the right, the racists, the xenophobes, the misogynists, the repressive forces that according to — and I think he’s correct — Noam Chomsky, the Republican Party now is the most dangerous organization in the history of the world. We’ve got to fight back against the Trump regime and against the Republican control of Congress. And the second responsibility is to move forward a truly progressive agenda that will come from the grassroots, have staying power, and move not only the Democratic Party but the country in a genuine progressive direction.

The mythology, and we have so many liberals and people like, at the clip, Robby Mook and Hilary Rosen and others, people at Mother Jones piling on, some traditional liberals or some who claim to be progressives — and I remind people there’s an insurance company claims to be progressive, doesn’t mean much of anything, the label — there’s an effort to tell people, “Chill out, calm down, only concentrate on defeating the right wing Republicans, don’t advance a progressive agenda,” and there’s a claim, explicit or otherwise, that actually those two goals are in contradiction. You know, either you push your progressive agenda or you fight the right. In fact the opposite is true, and I think the autopsy documents that very clearly.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    Wait, did Robby Mook say in this article “The primary elections are run by secretaries of state” or did he mean to say that the primary elections are run by the Secretary of State?

    1. Wallace

      Excellent! Poor Robbie, still running his diagnostics to see what went wrong. A classic lightweight. Rust Belt is so ‘yesterday’.

    2. Vatch

      The government official in charge of elections probably varies from U.S. state to state. In some states, this person is the state’s Secretary of State. This is a completely different office from the Federal Secretary of State. I don’t know whether all U.S. states have a a Secretary of State. Probably not. Heck, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky don’t even call themselves “states”. They are “commonwealths”. Vermont and Delaware also use the word “commonwealth” in their constitutions, but not in their official names.

  2. Darn

    This is much more informative than the recent disappointing Real News one with Tulsi Gabbard. Anyone who hasn’t read ‘Autopsy’ should btw, lots of good factual nuggets. Also interesting discussion how (given that Clintonites act like she is the heroine of ppl of colour due to getting vast majority of black voters in the primaries) ppl accuse Sanders of wanting to sell out the party’s ‘base’ somehow in a chase for ‘white’ working class voters, that in the general election the Dems were trying to reach white moderate Republicans rather than maximise black and Latino turnout.

    1. Robert Dannin

      on the question of rigging, brazile’s self-serving memoir is just the tip of the iceberg. we have yet to hear about dirty trickster david brock’s work for clinton in the north carolina primary, and the unsubtle antisemitism employed against sanders.

      1. Ligurio

        As I recall, one of the Podesta emails contained a conversation pointing out that, you know, Bernie is one of those dangerous atheist or agnostic Jews—you know, the kind that risked life and limb in the south during the civil rights era and were branded as nihilist revolutionaries for doing so (as they had been by reactionaries for quite some time before that). Couldn’t Clinton maybe use to her advantage not just Bernie’s Jewishness, but his being an especially unamerican kind of Jew, etc?

        1. Arizona Slim

          An atheist Jew? Yikes! I’m looking at one right now. He’s sitting a few feet away from me, and he is …

          … hard at work on one of his business ventures.

          Such a scary guy.

          Actually, he’s one of my best friends in this-here coworking space. We have yet to share our daily high five. I better get his attention so we can take care of that.

  3. R kelman

    Talking about good governance and government responsibility is not the same as relitigating. Talk about what needs to be done and the underlying principles so the steps to be taken can be analyzed, understood and implemented. Holds true for political parties.

    1. ger

      The democrat party elites are not interested in good governance. The are concerned about holding on to their dwindling power. The DNC has become more of a propaganda organization than a political organization. As Schumer said we do not need to change our polices just our messaging. One of the messages is: We do not need to keep litigating the past as it has been so successful?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      But do you remember the discord Lincoln caused when he fired McClellan? It really hurt George’s career because Abe looked back instead of looking forward.

  4. KYrocky

    “The mythology…. You know, either you push your progressive agenda or you fight the right.”

    Obama did neither.

    And neither did the DNC. Under Obama, the DNC was reduced (or corrupted) to providing incumbent protection for Washington Corporatist Democrats.

    And that is why the Democratic Party has suffered historic, catastrophic losses.

    We openly speak of Trump as a con-man who fooled Republicans. But Democrats still will not acknowledge the similarities of Trump’s con of working class people with what Obama did to working class people. Obama was never a fighter for the poor. Obama never acknowledged the economic assault being waged against the poor and middle class, or calling out the forces responsible for it.

    And neither did Obama’s DNC.

    Obama’s DNC abandoned the state parties, the working people, the poor and the oppressed from day one.

    Pointing this out in real time during the Obama years got you banned from liberal blogs, with the incessant charge that “you’re hurting not helping”. And in discussing the DNC today the same charge is made, to protect the same people.

    1. Jason Boxman

      True story. And when that happened I started spending most and ultimately all of my time here instead. Obama taught me to loathe liberals, and I thank him for that.

      1. perpetualWAR

        Obama isn’t “liberal.” He is a man produced by the Corrupt Chicago Machine. Nuff said.

        Obama oversaw the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

    2. Mike Mc

      ^This x 1000. Obama years quite eventful for me – painful divorce, near miss professionally, then true love and a job to glide into retirement on – so I was clueless for some time despite being seriously left Dem.

      Bernie’s campaign woke me up, and the resulting peek behind the curtain (and local leg. district caucus captaincy) sure shocked the !@#$ outta me and a whole bunch of previously ‘unwoke’ Dems who thought we knew what was what.

      Now we do. Primary 2018 season will be active active active.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Active, active, active. For some strange reason, I’m reminded of Mount St. Helens during the first half of 1980.

  5. Lynne

    Meh. Hard to take the talking heads seriously when they come up with things like, “ the Republican Party now is the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.” Seriously? More dangerous than real Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, or the Stalin state, just to limit us to the last 100 years? Does this guy have a clue how many people died under Stalin, and how much repression there was then? No, I don’t like Trump and am even less fond of the corporate shills that dominate the national Republican Party, let alone narrow minded people who took over school boards, but this is a ridiculous way to avoid confronting how the democrats also sold out the 99%

    1. Vatch

      Good catch. Mr. Solomon was referring to something that Noam Chomsky said:

      I listened to the 32 second video, and it appears that Chomsky was speaking tongue in cheek. He’s referring to the environmental destructiveness of the Republican Party. Of course I agree with you that Nazis, Stalinists, and the Khmer Rouge were worse, and if they were active today, I think that they would be at least as environmentally destructive as the Republicans. They would be also be a lot more murderous than the Republicans, although the Dick Cheney wing of the party certainly made a valiant effort to emulate the 20th century’s worst political actors.

      1. Lynne

        My bad, then. It’s difficult to read sarcasm when you just read the transcript rather than hear the voice intonation. It’s just that I know so many in the Hillary camp these days that say that kind of thing in complete earnestness that I reacted to that. Thank you for the correction.

      2. David Green

        If the Khmer Rouge were worse, and the U.S. created the KR through Vietnam, and Vietnam was horrible in its own right, then how does the Cold War U.S. not merit a mention, even regardless of its other many atrocities? Seems pro forma to bring in Stalin. And Chomsky does label the Repubs primarily in relation to climate change anyway.

        But it’s a stretch even to see the KR as worse than W’s invasion of Iraq and subsequent horrors. But of course their hasn’t yet been the film to promote that view like Killing Fields.

      3. animalogic

        No the Republicans are not as bad as the nazis, Stalin etc…of course none of them had the ability to destroy the world many times over with nuclear weapons (Stalin had them, however, probably not in numbers sufficient to destroy the world — although, I stand to be corrected here).

  6. tegnost

    I see these two quotes as the bookends, describing the problem from the two incompatible sides of the democrat party…from mook first
    We can’t make the case to working people in this country that we’re going to stand up for them and we’re going to fight for them if we’re fighting each other. We can’t do that. Hillary Clinton won this primary with almost four million votes.
    Let’s just say I have a repulsive visceral reaction to a.) the clinton crowd acting like they have any intention of fighting for working people, and b.) these examples clintonites give, i.e. hill won by x number of votes in the primary are completely disingenuous as caucus’ don’t have a vote tally, just complete bs that they’ve repeated so many times they probably believe it, just disgustingly stupid and condescending. Irredeemable. Great, yes hillary won a bunch of state primaries that went to trump in the general. So What? If you’re going to run for republican voters then be a republican, maybe then (and it’s a big maybe) the republican party wouldn’t be so bad, but honestly we’re talking about pathological liars here, if they were republicans they’d still be the same horrible people with the same view that the credentialed class should get everything (in other words basically boilerplate republicans).
    And the other bookend regarding william greider’s article in the nation…
    “What Killed the Democratic Party?” he summarizes our autopsy report and quite correctly characterizes it as a call for rebellion and for working people, for young people, people of color to gain control over the party that in theory represents them and, in fact, largely does not. Greider, I think quite astutely, sums up that we have this challenge now to organize effectively, to point out what the Democratic Party really is, not what it claims to be, and to see that there’s an opportunity here
    This brings me finally to lamberts question from yesterday about what stories are not being covered, and as I thought about it throughout the day I came to the conclusion that no stories are being covered, It’s all a constructed narrative trying to create a story, not report a story. The fourth estate has failed utterly at the mainstream level.

    1. Myron Perlman

      “If you are going to run for republican voters then be a republican”. Why not merge the two organizations and save money for the owners by reducing duplicate positions? Seriously, in places like Chicago there is very little difference between the actual policies. Rahm wants to give billions to Amazon so they will build their headquarters here. Would a republican mayor do anything different? We are just arguing about brand names not actual policies that greatly impact working people’s lives.

  7. IndieRafael

    My guess is that many Democrats would forgive a tilted process and other sins if the party were actually trying its best to WIN. As an independent, it’s not my place to advise the Democratic Party HOW to win. But my biggest takeaway from this and other revelations of Democratic dysfunction is that the party doesn’t really seem focused on winning.

    Instead, too much energy, money and reputation have been sacrificed to the interests of party insiders who benefit personally. Even grossly incompetent party leaders, such as former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, got to keep their jobs long after their failure was obvious. Meanwhile, as pointed out in the discussion above, Obama and Hillary Clinton both took care of themselves (and the big money donors) at the expense of the party.

    Of course, many of our society’s institutions, including the Republic Party and big business, share this broader failing, so it seems the root problem is cultural, not just political.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      That seems to be the prevailing spirit of today: it’s okay to tilt the process a little so long as you win. NO! emphatically, no thank you. Bernie is the most popular politician by a long shot because he embodies the opposite: integrity.

      So how is it that any politicians ever advocated for policies that benefited society vs their own personal interests? And how can we get back to that?

      We’re down in the hole, we do not have a lever to pull that can move the Democratic Party in a progressive direction, and yet there’s tremendous organizing going on.

      In the end, is there anything that matters more than campaign finance reform?

    2. Yoghurt

      This raises the question: what is winning to the democratic party establishment?

      One would think that holding offices and power in congress and governorship and state houses would constitute the goal. But they have been wiped out between the coasts and appear far from much power at all. Yet, the establishment is not changing; they are doubling down on the fail. We like to call them “idiots” but I don’t think they are really that stupid. They obviously have not hit “rock bottom”.

      What is the goal? Since winning elections and direct power is not essential. How can they gather money when they are so far out of power? They can’t really deliver on anything so where is the return on investment for the donor class?

      Maybe they are reduced to being a spoiler for leftists. A lefty has a hard time winning if they have to run against both the Republican and the Democrat and the progressive and D will split the votes.

      A further, more minor question is this. Why did the establishment install Tom Perez as DNC chair? I don’t think Ellison would have been all that different – a bit less hippy punching but still. I think there must be something to hide. And it’s not the shenanigans that Brazlie has confirmed as these were already known anyhow. So what is Perez covering for? Probably money as the DNC budget is only known to a few.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Control of who runs for office. With Ellison and even a semblance of support for candidates, there would be increased pressure on who the future candidates are. Not that Warren is a saint, but a few more Warrens and you have a bloc all of a sudden to put up next to the party. When that happens, it becomes a “are you with us or against us” situation.

        Take Franken, who has made headlines today, in regards to his changing views on single payer. Once a jerk like Booker was on board, people who play “liberal avengers” had to join too. Then of coure Hillary’s “most progressive platform in the history of ever” was forced by Sanders and delegates to the DNC. We are also coming out of a period where Obama’s personal ratings could crush actual lefty views. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine don’t have that kind of standing and lack a person to hide behind if they are questioned going forward.

      2. sharonsj

        How do they gather money? As long as you are a member of Congress, you are privy to insider information and that information has value. Diane Feinstein and her husband got rich that way. One Congresswoman does day trading on her office computer. Most others buy and sell stock, real estate–anything that can make them a buck. They also accept money, gifts, and bribes from lobbyists and the 1% in exchange for helping pass favorable laws. And there is the revolving door; they leave office and become “consultants” to big business and lobbying firms and, as soon as the waiting period is up, become a registered lobbyist themselves. None of it depends on whether or not they are “in power.”

  8. Heraclitus

    A Presidential campaign is a big operation. It’s very hard to change its focus and its target voters once it is underway. Yet Hillary did that by totally changing her tax message to match Bernie’s and attract progressives in September 2016, a few months before the general election. This was poison to the moderate Republican voters who might have been drawn away from Trump had she stayed consistent.

    Optics really matter as much as substance. The moderate Republicans would not have voted for Bernie, and when the press started crowing about the similarities between Hillary and Bernie regarding taxes, that was it, whatever the irrelevance to the moderate Republicans’ personal tax situations.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “White flight” Republicans would never have voted for the Clintons. They didn’t vote for them in 1992 and 1996. They didn’t vote for Democrats in 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, I think you can see where I am going with this.

      Democrats when they win focus on turnout of low income voters who often feel disaffected. You can see those results in the wins from 2005 through 2008. Obama managed to win with an epic minority turnout in 2012 which was largely the result of Obama changing his rhetoric and reaction to Republican schemes to deny voting rights.

      As far as Hillary changing her message, I suggest you investigate the fable of the story of “The Boy who Cried Wolf.” I admit its quite old, but the moral is that once a person is perceived as a liar they won’t be believed even if they tell the truth. Hillary saw declines across all likely groups of Democratic voters from the Obama 2008 coalition, similar to her husband’s own results in 1992 and 1996, the latter is estimated to be the lowest turnout of minority voters since the 1957 Voting Rights Act. Gee, I wonder why.

  9. Camelotkidd

    The Democrats are a faux opposition party. Their role is very much like that of the Washington Generals, who were the designated opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters. It’s like Lambert says–kayfabe.
    Already with the so-called resistance, the Democrats have sought to co-op any movement that develops against Trump and prevent it from emerging as a challenge to their corporate sponsors. What truly concerns the Democrats and their corporate media handmaidens is how this vast social and economic discontent can be diverted into channels that will leave the wealth and power of their financial backers undisturbed.

  10. nonclassical

    “HC won this primary by almost 4 million votes”…largely due to her campaign strategy of beginning in deep south where she was never going to defeat trump!

    This sort of dissembling assertion is nothing but familiar attempt to sidetrack actual issue; follow the $$$$…

    Corruption of primary process is the issue…with DNC still in charge, same principles, method, creatures, still election losers…resorting to trump bashing rather than issue orientation is nothing but republican campaign rhetoric…

  11. RUKidding

    Great comments; most/all echo my own feelings and observations over the years. Just yesterday I was spanked on a lefty blog for daring to question our darling Big-D “leaders” for not really EVER (that I’ve observed, and I’ve been really watching out for it) taking on the b.s. hype that the R-Team routinely spins out about Trickle Down. Someone adjured me that Big-D has been advocating against it all along. Oh really? Not so’s I could notice.

    As others have pointed out, Obama is just as guilty as Trump or either Bush or Reagan or Bill Clinton in terms of selling out the poor and middle classes to the MIC, the corporations and the 1% in general.

    Yes, I loath Trump, but at least he’s totally “out there.” WYSIWG. There’s no mistaking who or what Trump is: a gauche craven venal mendacious bigoted racist homophoboic sexist scum bag conman.

    Obama? Well he was a smooth talker, wasn’t he? And he looked so fine and acted so nice, and he had a lovely wife and two beautiful daughers. And they all talked the talk, didn’t they?? But they sure as heck didn’t walk the walk. Not one bit.

    Ta Nahesi Coates loves him some Obama, but I’m more with Cornell West’s take on Obama.

    Unless or until Democratic voters can get it through their thick skulls that the D-Team just isn’t into them – aka the rube non-constituents – nothing will change, especially with the die-hard Clintonites. Ugh.

    And finally, really: what’s the difference between die-hard Trump fans, who continue to cling and grasp to their “savior” Trump, no matter how horrible he is and no matter how much his “policies” (such as they are) are surely going to hurt them, and between die-hard Clintonistas/Obamanistas? IMO, Obama right royally screwed us all over. I see commenters on lefty blogs raging about W’s waste and folly and loss of life and money in waging War in Afghanistan and Iraq. But nary a peep about the 7 wars that Obama either started or continued. I see leftists whining about torture under W, but nary a peep about torture under Obama.

    So while I see Trump fanatics as clearly delusional, I don’t see much difference between them and die-hard Clintonistas/Obamanistas. And none of these D-voters appear to me to be calling for re-instituting the very successful 50 State Strategy that Obama so quicly smashed to pieces even after it worked to get him elected. Someone, above, said: it doesn’t look like Democrats are interested in winning. No kidding! Doesn’t look that way to me, either.

    Good post. Thanks.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Trump is an out-and-out con man…..Obama was a smooth-talking made-from-Chicago-Machine con man.

      I don’t like getting taken by a con man, but it is plain to see Trump’s motivation….and Obama hid his. I think the con man with the hidden agenda, frankly, is more dangerous. Obama oversaw the largest transfer of wealth in the world’s history.

      1. nonclassical


        “largest transfer of wealth” involved 2007 (bush-cheney) Wall Street “control accounting frauds; as Robert Johnson, brought before congress to explain, and Brooksley Born defined, $600 trillion worth…those of us who have read Yves “Econned” and a few other such can define the frauds involved, of which there are many…but here is where that “paper debt” resides today, under FDIC-U.S. taxpayer auspices:

        “JPMorgan Chase shrewdly parks virtually all of its vast derivatives holdings in its commercial bank subsidiary. In the event of a collapse, the bank can use its deposit base to pay off the derivatives, while leaving the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to reimburse depositors if their money runs out. This is not a trivial technicality. JPM is the world’s largest purveyor of derivatives. Its total contracts have a notional value of $72 trillion—and 99 percent of them are booked at its FDIC-insured bank. In the event of failure, sorting out the claims and counterclaims will be a costly nightmare for the FDIC. The bulk of the contracts are “plain vanilla” derivatives used as standard hedges against price or currency changes. The exotic derivatives, however, are dangerous—the kind that suddenly blew up in Dimon’s face some weeks ago, when his bank swiftly lost at least $3 billion on one complicated market gambit, with maybe more losses to come.

        We are “insuring” other big boys of banking in the same way. Citigroup has nearly all of its $53 trillion in derivatives in its FDIC-insured bank; Goldman Sachs has $44 trillion parked at an FDIC-backed institution. After Bank of America purchased Merrill Lynch, BofA began transferring the securities firm’s derivatives to the FDIC-insured bank, which now holds $47 trillion in contracts. When Senators Sherrod Brown and Carl Levin, among others, complained that regulators’ acquiescence in these transfers contradicted Congressional instructions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform law, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency refused to answer their objections. This matter involves “confidential supervisory” and “proprietary business information,” the three agencies responded in unison.”

        Obama – Geithner perpetrated “quantitative easing” bailouts, but didn’t perpetrate the frauds…we listened to Brooksley Born, and figured she was accurate when in 2004-05, bush-cheney allowed credit card lobbyists (knowing full well what was coming) to re-write bankruptcy laws…

  12. ChrisAtRU

    Great post. Thank you. The DNC is one part grift mill to keep highly paid consultants employed, and one part kleptocrat patronage outlet. In such an arrangement, voter desires and actually “winning” anything would seem somewhat secondary.


  13. flora

    ” In other words, the lack of transparency and accountability are symptoms of poor governance.” – Yves.

    I agree.

  14. Synoia

    In other words, the lack of transparency and accountability are symptoms of poor governance

    I beg to differ:

    In other words, the lack of transparency and accountability are a deliberate choice to satisfy large donors while “fighting”, but never winning, for the less moneyed.

    With that objective, the governance is not poor, its is very good, and quite successful.

    The objective appears to be: enjoy the perks of office, avoid blame, while ignoring “the general welfare” of the great majority of voters.


    It is not a bug, it is a feature of the Democratic Party.

    1. perpetualWAR

      These are features of both parties. As both parties only look out for their donors.
      Thank you, Supreme Court for Citizens United! (So, once again, it goes back to our corrupt courts!)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You have not read Brazile’s book. The governance of the DNC was terrible. “Governance” means running an institution according to its own rules and among other things, assuring its compliance with applicable laws and minimizing legal risk. Let’s start with the famed deal the DNC signed with the Clinton campaign with gave the campaign control over the DNC. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz signed it without informing anyone on the board when the board was required to approve. She greatly exceeded her authority.

  15. ckimball

    “ the Republican Party now is the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.” To continue the thought..Both parties have way
    more power than they deserve in our “global world” and threaten all
    that lives in a way that is unprecedented in history that we can remember.

  16. Kevin Curry

    The Democratic party is in a real tough place. The Republican establishment, Tea Party and Trumpists have an easy game to play; government is bad, we must destroy government, throughout the process “look how bad government is we must destroy it more.” The dems from the outset have a much more difficult battle to forge, defending individual institutions is much more difficult than denigrating the entire system. Add to that fact that dems are way behind the 8-ball on organizing, collecting/spending dark money, etc… The Koch brother, as one example, have been at this for 40 years, they’ve perfected the art. 80% of dark money in the 2016 election was spent for the right. Dems need to fully accept the playing-field that’s been laid out and start replicating the thinktanks, media control, and organization of the right. Status quo is not working.

    1. HotFlash

      Absolutely! Thinktanks, moar thinktanks! Committees! Reports! Anything but concrete material benefits.

      If only there had been someone, some visionary, who could have talked about Medicare for all, free college tuition, $15 minimum wage — things like that. /s

      1. Kevin Curry

        Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the system one bit. The goal should be to overturn Citizen’s United, remove dark money from politics, diversify the media landscape, etc… But if this is the game that’s been defined it’s getting the point that you either play or get sidelined entirely. Hell, I’ve got my Bernie action figure staring at me right now. The only solace I have is that Trump and his gaggle of goons is so repugnant that this hellscape might actually be the best path to $15 wages, Medicare for all, etc… 2018 will be telling, if dems are forced to move a little further left as signs are pointing to and if Trump remains a complete disgrace liberal dems might be in good shape in 2018 and 2020 to start making real policy change.

  17. zagonostra

    Thomas Frank, who I would wager most visitors to NC are familiar with, has a blunt and accurate analysis of the DNC at first link below.

    And, Jimmy Dore and Abby Martin on the second link below situate the discussion of the DNC squarely within the a broader context in the second link below.

    The MSM will continue to cover everything and anything which does not upset the distribution of power and wealth. Comedians like Colbert et al, will continue to function as siphons diverting the building psychological dissonance into impotent laughter allowing the next day’s outrages to proceed unimpeded.

  18. Code Name D

    This is why Sander’s “Our Revolution” will fail to deliver change – at any level. Oh I am sure they will get Democrats elected. They might even get their wave election in 2018. But in doing so, they only thing they will accomplish is the rehabilitation of the democratic brand while the establishment remains solidly in control. More Democrats, even if they are “true progressives” (and I am skeptical they will be, not all of them anyway.) in office will only further enable and empower the current leadership, which will still take credit for the victories. Will then completely ignore the progressive mandate they were elected on and the neo-liberal policies will continue. Out Revolution and the Justice Democrats are in fact just more cogs in the wheel.

    1. HotFlash

      OTOH, the Bernie crew is clearly causing the Dem establishment serious fear. Primary rigging, DNC stacking, progressive campaign $$ starvation, and the recent purge of Bernistas — this is a party that is running scared. At some point the Big Shark HRC is going to be so damaged that the other sharks will turn on her. The Brazile excerpt drew blood, I am hoping that the whole book will hit an artery.

      Bernie plays a long game, and I think he is smart enough to build a bench for when he can’t Bern anymore.

      1. nonclassical

        ..personally, I hold out for Warren-Sanders 2020…no more DNC (DLC) bought and sold republican light…

        …dumping on Ellison for Perez, running an ex-George W Bush voter for Gov – Virginia, and ex-Wall Streeter for Gov – New Jersey (while DNC dems run around calling for “unity”) doesn’t look at all good, or move us…

        and the single largest problem for dems may be their voters have the ability to discern, rather than fall in line, driven by faux news lies and obfuscations, or candidate smear campaign substitution for issue orientation….

        ..problem for both “parties” is U.S. voters today claim somewhere between 40-45% “independent” status…most don’t approve of either…(not to imbibe false-equivalencies)

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