Reminder: DNC Lawyers to Court, “We Do Not Owe Voters an ‘Impartial’ or ‘Evenhanded’ Primary Election”

Yves here. The DNC position on elections does much to explain the 2016 California primary, which featured numerous reports by poll workers of dirty practices. Oddly, I saw two separate  videos with many detailed first person accounts  of a range of abuses which now seem to be not findable on Google. Oh, and there were no exit polls. Convenient, that.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

As Jimmy Breslin wrote in his blurb, this is the best book ever written about legendary Democratic Party boss Richard J. Daley, king of the smoke-filled back room deal. (Fun fact: John Belushi played a character closely based on Royko in an early Lawrence Kasden film, Continental Divide, that’s well worth watching.)

This is your periodic reminder that the “Democratic Party” is not an organization that Democratic voters belong to or have any right to control. The Democratic Party is instead a private organization, much like a club, that non-members support by giving it their money, their time and their votes. (The same is true of the “Republican Party.) All other “rights” and promises offered by the Party to its supporters, including those obligations described in the DNC charter, are not obligations at all, but voluntary gifts that can be withdrawn at any time.

At least, that’s how the DNC sees it.

Consider this report of a 2017 court filing, one that almost no one noticed, in which Sanders supporters sued the DNC for violating the section of its charter that requires DNC-run elections to be “impartial” and “evenhanded.” The DNC’s defense was, in essence, “So what?” (emphasis added below):

DNC Lawyers Argue DNC Has Right to Pick Candidates in Back Rooms

Attorneys claim the words ‘impartial’ and ‘evenhanded’—as used in the DNC Charter—can’t be interpreted by a court of law

On April 28 the transcript [pdf] was released from the most recent hearing at a federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on the lawsuit filed on behalf of Bernie Sanders supporters against the Democratic National Committee and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for rigging the Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton. Throughout the hearing, lawyers representing the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz double[d] down on arguments confirming the disdain the Democratic establishment has toward Bernie Sanders supporters and any entity challenging the party’s status quo.

Shortly into the hearing, DNC attorneys claim Article V, Section 4 of the DNC Charter—stipulating that the DNC chair and their staff must ensure neutrality in the Democratic presidential primaries—is “a discretionary rule that it didn’t need to adopt to begin with.” Based on this assumption, DNC attorneys assert that the court cannot interpret, claim, or rule on anything associated with whether the DNC remains neutral in their presidential primaries.

The attorneys representing the DNC have previously argued that Sanders supporters knew the primaries were rigged, therefore annulling any potential accountability the DNC may have. In the latest hearing, they doubled down on this argument: “The Court would have to find that people who fervently supported Bernie Sanders and who purportedly didn’t know that this favoritism was going on would have not given to Mr. Sanders, to Senator Sanders, if they had known that there was this purported favoritism.” …

“People paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee—nominating process in 2016 were fair and impartial,” [Jared] Beck [the attorney representing Sanders supporters in the class action lawsuit] said. “And that’s not just a bedrock assumption that we would assume just by virtue of the fact that we live in a democracy, and we assume that our elections are run in a fair and impartial manner. But that’s what the Democratic National Committee’s own charter says. It says it in black and white. And they can’t deny that.” He added, “Not only is it in the charter, but it was stated over and over again in the media by the Democratic National Committee’s employees, including Congresswoman Wassermann Schultz, that they were, in fact, acting in compliance with the charter. And they said it again and again, and we’ve cited several instances of that in the case.”

According to this report, attorneys for the DNC argued that the DNC was not liable to Sanders supporters if they threw the primary race to Clinton, or tilted it toward her, because:

(a) Sanders supporters already knew the primary was rigged (did DNC lawyers really say that?), and

(b) the DNC charter requirement that elections be “impartial” and “evenhanded” is discretionary and not a requirement.

Shorter DNC lawyers: “We don’t have to run an evenhanded primary, even if we say we’re going to.”

About the second point, let’s look at the court transcript itself. In this section, the court asks: If Sanders supporters give money to an election run by the DNC, and if the DNC violates its charter and runs an election that unfairly disadvantages Sanders, do Sanders supporters have standing to sue?

DNC’s response is below. “Mr. Spiva” is Bruce Spiva, one of the DNC’s defense lawyers (emphasis mine):

THE COURT:  All right. Let me ask the defense — we’re going to go into the issue of standing now at this point.

Let me ask counsel. If a person is fraudulently induced to donate to a charitable organization, does he have standing to sue the person who induced the donation?

MR. SPIVA:  I think, your Honor, if the circumstance were such that the [charitable] organization promised that it was going to abide by some general principle, and the donee — or donor, rather, ultimately sued, because they said, Well, we don’t think you’re living up to that general principle, we don’t think you’re, you know, serving kids adequately, we think your program is — the way you’re running your program is not adequate, you know, you’re not doing it well enough, that that — that they would not have standing in that circumstance.

[On the other hand] I think if somebody — a charitable organization were to solicit funds and say, Hey, we’re gonna spend this money on after-school programs for kids, and the executive director actually put the money in their pocket and went down the street and bought a Mercedes-Benz, I think in that circumstance, they would have standing.

I think this circumstance is even one step further towards the no standing side of that, because here we’re talking about a political party and political principles and debate. And that’s an area where there’s a wealth of doctrine and case law about how that — just simply giving money does not give one standing to direct how the party conducts its affairs, or to complain about the outcomes, or whether or not the party is abiding by its own internal rules.

And I should say, your Honor, I just want to be clear, because I know it may sometimes sound like I am somehow suggesting that I think the party did not — you know, the party’s position is that it has not violated in the least this provision of its charter.

THE COURT:  I understand.

MR. SPIVA:  So I just want to get that out there. But to even determine — to make that determination would require the Court to wade into this political thicket. And — you know, which would invade its First Amendment interests, and also, I think, would raise issues — standing issues along all three prongs of the standing test.

After a legal discussion of the “three prongs,” the court asks this:

THE COURT:  And then one other question on the issue of standing for the defense. Is there a difference between a campaign promise made by a political candidate and a promise that pertains to the integrity of the primary process itself? In other words, President George H.W. Bush’s —

MR. SPIVA:  “Read my lips.”

THE COURT:  — promise — “read my lips, no new taxes,” and then he raised taxes. Well, he could not be sued for raising taxes. But with respect to the DNC charter, Article V, Section 4, is there a difference between the two?

MR. SPIVA:  Not one — there’s obviously a difference in degree. I think your Honor — I’m not gonna — I don’t want to overreach and say that there’s no difference. But I don’t think there’s a difference that’s material in terms of how the Court should decide the question before it in terms of standing, in that this, again, goes to how the party runs itself, how it decides who it’s going to associate with, how it decides how it’s going to choose its standard bearer ultimately. In case after case, from O’Brien, to Wymbs, to Wisconsin v. LaFollette, Cousins v. Wigoda, the Supreme Court and other courts have affirmed the party’s right to make that determination. Those are internal issues that the party gets to decide basically without interference from the courts.


You know, again, if you had a charity where somebody said, Hey, I’m gonna take this money and use it for a specific purpose, X, and they pocketed it and stole the money, of course that’s different.

But here, where you have a party that’s saying, We’re gonna, you know, choose our standard bearer, and we’re gonna follow these general rules of the road, which we are voluntarily deciding, we could have — and we could have voluntarily decided that, Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way. That’s not the way it was done. But they could have. And that would have also been their right, and it would drag the Court well into party politics, internal party politics to answer those questions.

To this day the DNC believes that if it wanted to “go into back rooms” and “pick the [presidential] candidate,” this would “have been their right,” and no one outside the organization would have any right to enforce the DNC charter or interfere in any other way.

Good to know as we watch the 2020 machinations (for example, this one) unfold before us.

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  1. kimyo

    this report was filed on 2016-06-10, three days after clinton ‘won’ the primary: After Frustrating Primary, Millions of Ballots in California Remain Uncounted

    More than 2.5 million ballots from California’s June 7 primary are still uncounted, sparking questions about the results of the presidential contest in which Hillary Clinton emerged the winner and leaving the fate of local races in the air as poll workers continue to grapple with reports of voter difficulties.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, the uncounted ballots would put the total voter turnout at around 8.5 million, or around 47 percent of all registered voters.

    and it wasn’t just california: NYC Board of Elections Admits To Illegal Voter Purge

    The New York City Board of Elections admitted Tuesday that it broke federal and state laws by kicking thousands of people off city voter rolls ahead of last spring’s primary elections, WNYC reported.

  2. Geo

    The Democratic Party firmly supports the right of every American to have “access” to democracy.

    1. Summer

      They can play these games because people let authoritarians, oligarchs, and corporatists define democracy. Been behind the eight ball ever since.

      1. Oh

        One of the ways they allow this is by participating in the fake primaries, voting in the rigged elections and letting the select few in the party allocate resources for candidates.

    2. athena1

      Reminds me of this old (slightly tongue in cheek? hard to say…) Philip Bobbitt prediction for 2025:

      In Russia at this time, a new form of civil right was introduced. It permitted any citizen or registered company to buy shares in the state, thus giving weighted voting according to the number of shares purchased.

      Also of not in the transcript is the DNC lawyer saying:

      there is no right to — just by virtue of making a donation, to enforce the parties’ internal rules. And there’s no right to not have your candidate disadvantaged or have another candidate advantaged. There’s no contractual obligation here.

  3. Carey

    IIRC, it was announced that there would be no
    exit polling for the last Dem™ Primary three (?) debates not
    long before they occurred. Those of us who smelled a rat at
    the time were justified, IMNSHO:

    Why in dog’s name would there be no exit polling, if not to rig the vote? (sorry if that’s too obvious).

  4. LifelongLib

    Well, back rooms gave us FDR and LBJ, while primaries gave us Bill and Hillary, so I have some nostalgia for back rooms.

    Should there be a sort of public utility law for political parties, that requires them to abide by their charters, and gives their members standing to sue if in the members’ view the parties haven’t done so? Until such a law exists it seems to me that (unfortunately) Mr. Spiva is legally correct.

    1. Deschain

      Backrooms also gave us the conditions that led to us needing FDR, though.

      It would be nice if our democracy could actually prevent crises from happening rather than just cleaning up after them.

      “But that’s what we do, right? Our best work after the fact? We’re the *Avengers?* Not the Prevengers, right?” – Tony Stark, Endgame

        1. Lunker Walleye

          I happened to watch Oliver Stone’s Chapter 2 in “The Untold History of the United States” last night. There were all sorts of shenanigans that prevented Wallace from getting the VP nomination but most notable was the gaveling close at the convention. A quote from Peter Kuznik, the historian who co-authored the book. Here he is speaking on TheRealNews: “You’ve got Mayor Kelly of Chicago, it was in Chicago, screaming, “It’s my convention. This is a fire hazard. Adjourn immediately.” Sam Jackson is chairing it. He said he had orders to not let Wallace get the nomination and he says, “I’ve got a motion to adjourn. All in favor, aye.” Maybe 5% say aye. “All opposed, nay.” The rest of the convention booms out nay. Jackson says, “Motion carried. Meeting adjourned.”

        2. Barbara

          One of the most damaging moves made at end of WWII putting Truman in place as VP 45 days before the death of FDR … more than likely just one more assassination.

      1. David Fitelson

        Tony, I initially misread your quotation as “” …Our best work after the fart.” Left me thinking.

    2. Pelham

      How could we possibly know whether primaries gave us Bill and Hillary? Given what the party admits to being, it’s perfectly free to manipulate any process.

  5. Acacia

    I wonder how many more times Trump or some other GOP creature needs to win before the DNC either learns its lesson or fragments and dies.

    1. Geo

      It seems that having another Bush Jr/Trump/Reagan seems to embolden the corporate/centrist party leadership. Easier to rally the donors against a “bad guy”. The only way they’ll fragment is if the get another one of their chosen candidates elected and we have another Clinton/Obama type run that leaves the base and independents feeling left behind once more. As for them learning a lesson… doubtful. There’s always Susan Sarandon to blame for their losses.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          If that’s the Democratic ticket, I’ll pledge not to vote third-party. And since my previous third party votes were attacked by Dems as being the same as voting for the Republican, I will vote Republican, and it won’t be just on the top line but from President to dog catcher. The Democratic Party, if they pull a 2016 again, needs to go the way of the Whigs.

        2. readerOfTeaLeaves

          More likely not outrage, but a kind of ‘meh’ shrug and tuning out due to alienation.
          Yes, many of us detest Trump, but he was a symptom of disgust with a system; the DNC’s legalisms exacerbate that corrosiveness.

          The DNC is becoming a mockery of itself, whereas the RNC appears to have become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian mob…

  6. Tyronius

    Since it is plain that the DNC does not need, desire, respect or particularly care about my vote, donation, support for or interest in the process for deciding the nominee, I will be sure to act accordingly henceforth.

    1. Charlene Coleman

      After the 2016 Primary, I vowed to never give another dollar to the DNC. I’ve stuck to that, and instead I donate directly to candidates I find worthy (why the need for a middle man who will determine that for me?). In my opinion the DNC is just another “old boys club” [not literally, but in the sense of a “ruling elite” w/ disdain for those it ostensibly represents. And Perez’ leadership has convinced me he is just more Wasserman-Schultz, that the party is committed to remain a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, and that the DNC will continue to pay themselves fancy salaries, bennies and perks while continuing to ignore/disdain the views and preferences of its Democratic constituents.

  7. David in Santa Cruz

    I can vouch that in the 2016 California primary, I showed-up along with a clot of other working types heading off on our commutes when our precinct polling place opened. A Dem-apparatchik-looking fellow informed us that nether the electronic voting machines nor the paper ballot readers were up and running and that there was no estimate when they might be.

    I was dressed for work: blue suit, pressed white shirt, and silk tie, lookin every inch the lawyer of 30-years experience that I was. As a NC reader, voter suppression was the first thing that came to mind — so I drew myself to my full height and approached the poll wardens at their table. In my most commanding courtroom voice, I politely suggested that the machines might benefit from being re-started. With a mixture of fear and annoyance the apparatchik complied, and lo and behold, the machines came to life in perfect fettle.

    The commuters cast their ballots, mine first of all. Just to rub it in, I made it clear to all present that mine was cast in favor of a “political revolution.”

    California is more crooked than Palermo or Lagos…

    1. FKorning

      Diebolds are automated fraud machines. I can’t believe there aren’t guillotines on the streets over this.

      1. John

        Paper ballots counted by hand in public; Lambert’s default solution would most nearly approach an honest vote and count. The alternative is to gain control of the back rooms.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Jimmy Dore put up two videos on what was happening with Californian elections a coupla months ago. The links are here but being Jimmy Dore there may be some swearing. There is probably a lot to swear about-

      “New Election Ordered After Ca. Dems Caught Cheating Progressives” 20:25 mins at

      “California Democratic Party Openly Cheating Progressives Again” 30.01 mins at

  8. fdr-fan

    Well, in fact every rational adult DOES know that both parties rig their results. This has been a universal constant for 200 years. The only people who SAY that parties are honest are the fixers. Anyone who believes the fixers is a fool.

    The fixing was unusually obvious in DNC 2016. It was right there on TV, especially in caucuses.

      1. coboarts

        Obviously, there was an unaccounted for moving line in one of the six throws. Perhaps ‘parting’ (43) slipped into ‘excess of the great’ (28). The detachment from discriminating consciousness leads to an inability to control strength. Instead of the auspicious results originally expected from the six coin tosses, the universe played its own game.

      2. Bird

        Yup. Like when Harry Reid convinced Adelson, Wynn et al to give workers 4 hours off with pay to attend caucuses. I think they voted 100% for Hillary. Sanders would have won Nevada if not for that

  9. The Rev Kev

    Seems too that not all donors and backrooms are the same either and that it is not only small donors that get cheated. This guy was explaining in a book how there are a lot of people who make big donations to one of the main political parties and expect in return to get an ambassadorship in return. The problem is that the size of the donation, though sizable, is not even enough to buy your way into the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka’s pantry. So what happens is that they lead these donors into a room with a big chandelier to make them feel important. This guy explains that the presence of a chandelier is the tell. They promise them everything, grab their cheques and probably have it cashed by the time that donor hits the street who is then promptly forgotten.

  10. skippy

    I thought Thirdway was always a pincer movement to capture the champagne socialists and cosmopolitan liberals – moderate republicans in an attempt to facilitate certain social paradigms that were anti conservative in nature, albeit used the same market fundamentalism to achieve it.

    Hence the constant umbrage of the conservatives in having their baby fiddled with.

  11. Abi

    At least better than Nigerian political parties where the primary contestants are the ones who give the party money in form of buying the election aspiration form to the tune of millions of naira.

    Maybe we need a new mechanism all together

  12. FKorning

    If it is the case that the Democratic and Republican parties are private clubs and lobby groups and are not bound to fairness, then they have a chokehold monopoly, not even a de-facto one but an enshrined one in the state primary selection process, which ought to be a a public-utility function. I wonder if anti-trust laws can be brought against the two primary parties, their umbrella capaign organizations, lobby groups, and the individual states that have over the years hardened the rules to limit franchise to those two afflilaitions alone.

    1. Carolinian

      Indeed. If the government and the courts are going to take a laissez-faire approach to the duopoly then they should drop ballot access rules that block third parties and get out of the election business altogether other than counting the votes. Our heads I win tails you lose system has no logic. In order for competition to curb the excesses of a corrupt institution then competition must be allowed.

    2. philnc

      Not antitrust. RICO, because they really do behave like organized crime groups. Their main businesses are fraud and extortion. I’d be OK with continuing to allow civil forfeiture if it was turned against them.

  13. flora

    Speaking of the uncounted CA primary votes….

    (Everytime I hear wails that “hillary won the popular vote by x million” I think to myself, yes but she in all probability lost the primary vote – if the voter rolls hadn’t been carefully purged and if all the votes had been correctly counted.)

    1. John Wright

      When I hear the “HRC won the popular vote”, I mention to people that Hillary won the 50 state popular vote, but if one subtracts the California results in which she won by a such a large margin, the sum of the other 49 states had Trump winning the other 49 state popular vote.

      Then I suggest that HRC, who spent her entire adult life connected to politics, should know in great detail how the electoral college works and a “most qualified ever candidate ever” should have known to invest her campaigning efforts in other states than CA.

      The DNC + HRC seem blissfully unaware that their actions and decisions, not the evil Russians,
      installed flimflam artist Donald Trump.

      I hoped that the Democrats, in service to the country, would serve to limit/checkmate the Trumpster they helped install, but they proceeded to do “Russia, Russia, Russia” and push for more wars and decry Trump’s willingness to talk with North Korea and Russia.

      Both parties are unworthy of voter respect, in my view.

  14. Watt4Bob


    RICO allows for prosecution of all individuals involved in a corrupt organization.

    Any objections so far?

    To violate RICO, a person must engage in a pattern of racketeering activity connected to an enterprise. The law defines 35 offenses as constituting racketeering, including gambling, murder, kidnapping, arson, drug dealing, bribery. Significantly, mail and wire fraud are included on the list.

    If a few people say you’re engaged in organized crime, it’s open to discussion, if everyone says you’re crooked, it’s most likely beyond question.

    Note that an enterprise is required. This might be a crime family, a street gang or a drug cartel. But it may also be a corporation, a political party, or a managed care company.

    Our problem, as always, is the fact that the political parties are frontline forces of the upper class, engaged in defense of the interests of the rich and powerful against those of the people, in particular, the working class.

    The impact of class warfare is affected by control of the political process by monied interests ‘ownership‘ of the political parties enabled by the system of ‘legal bribery’, long tolerated, now codified in the Citizens United decision of the SCOTUS.

    This crooked system, its criminal activity, is exactly what RICO was written to remedy, but the crooked system, in reaction, has simply defined itself as beyond the reach of the law.

    Nixon’s public insistence that, “I am not a crook!” was sufficient at the time, but eventually the criminality of the political class became so obvious that the SCOTUS was enlisted to make the sweeping declaration that the corruption of our political processes is totally legal.

    Who are you going to believe, the SCOTUS or your lying eyes?

    Actually, they’re not arguing or negotiating, they are clearly telling us, in plain english;

    We can do what we want!


      Wow. Not only do we have a mockery of democracy here, but a mockery of justice as well. As the bulwarks of our free society collapse, is it surprising that we are ruled by a tyrant?

  15. Norb

    The greatest danger I see resulting from our faux democracy is that the majority will give up politically and embrace the, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, mentality. The trend will be to give up on principles and accommodate the existing political parties to grab their piece of a shrinking pie of goods and services. I can’t imaging a worse society to live in. An entrenched, corrupt elite, dictating political outcomes to a fearful mass of unhealthy people.

    Being Anti War cuts to the core of our broken political system in America. America’s wars are not wars of defense but wars of imperialist aggression. They are wars to secure resources and riches masquerading as a noble cause to spread freedom and democracy. Receiving a cut of the booty does not make them right or just.

    Its time to form an Anti-War party in America and dedicate ones time, energy, and money to its success. Who cares if you don’t win sham democratic elections in the near future.

    Instead of not voting or voting for fake, disingenuous candidates, better to form meaningful organizations and see where they go over time.

    Staying with the present corrupt system is asking too much. The political system looks and functions to much like a criminal organization.

    At the very least a political party should take care of its members. When the leaders are bold enough to blatantly disregard their members it is time to form a new party. The leaders of a healthy organization serve the members. When they fail to do so, or become corrupt, they need to be replaced.

    What can the Democratic party say they stand for with a straight face- or be remotely truthful?

    Imperialism is a loosing strategy for working people. The next phase in America’s political nightmare is to drop the pretense of voting all together- to openly drop the pretense of democracy. We will live in a corporate dictatorship- ruled by a cabal of business leaders and their servants.

    There is nothing worse than being a deplorable inside the democratic party. Deplorables inside the Republican party at worst can be neglected. In the democratic party, they are openly mocked and belittled if they question the leadership. The only face saving strategy the democrats have is to use divide and conquer techniques at mocking Republican deplorables more. Let the deplorables tear themselves apart in their fear and anger. Here Republicans and Democrats work hand in hand. Class warfare in it’s finest.

    The democratic party has lost its true function- being a voice for working people. Being less worse than Republicans is more dangerous and disingenuous to working people in the long run. How much more evidence is needed?

    Next up on your local station- Now shut up, enjoy the show, and get back to work.

    1. Watt4Bob

      An entrenched, corrupt elite, dictating political outcomes to a fearful mass of unhealthy people.

      Sounds like a contemporary reality, not some potential future possibility.

      In fact, the next step, and it’s already begun, is the ‘unhealthy people’ encouraged to kill each other rather than fight our mutual enemies, the corrupt elite.

      We’ve forgotten, but we’ve been this way before.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Indeed. The fish rots from the head.

        People see that their ” leaders” are corrupt and how hard it has become to make a decent, honest living so many have already given up on principles to grab their piece of the shrinking pie. Thus the popularity of Airbnb, as just one example. Our neighborhood is seeing housing prices skyrocket as more homes are given over to illegal hotel rentals and when the city tries to rein it in, the unprincipled lawyer up and scream bloody murder about property rights as if zoning laws in existence for decades were mere suggestions. The corruption has already infested our entire society, pitting neighbor against neighbor, fighting it out for the few remaining dollars not already in the hands of a squillionaire.

        1. DHG

          All foretold millennia in advance as to what would be happening with increasing frequency in the “time of the end” Its not going to get any better and will continue to decay right up to the day of judgment. Next up is the destruction of false religion at the hands of the political rulers leading to the the Great Tribulation.

  16. Pelham

    If the parties admit to being secretive private organizations, then they should have absolutely nothing to do with any voter-related activities and reapportionment in each state.

    1. Cat Burglar

      You’re right on the money — as it were — with this observation. Spreading the information in this article as widely as possible in jokes, conversation, letters to the editor, meetings, everywhere, is what we should do. You have uncovered a point of their vulnerability: do they want to be a democratic public organization, or a private actor?

  17. Camp Lo

    This case was summarily dismissed on its face two years ago because the DNC’s biased opinions could not be connected to any conduct that caused injury, and further, no injury to the plaintiffs could be found. To paraphrase a fictional TV Vice President, “If you can’t figure out how to outmaneuver the DNC you have no business being President.”

    The antipathy Sanders faces among conventional news and political institutions is of his own making. Because Sanders publicly denigrates member’s work on behalf of those same institutions, won’t give journalists access or exclusives, and considered himself above the Democratic Party, itself, until he decided he wanted to be President, there isn’t a whole lot of influential folks willing to go to bat for Sanders. Until the 2016 Democratic primary nobody even took Sander’s ambition seriously. Given historical trends, the idea of a Vermont Senator leading the nation was far-fetched. At least it was until 45. So why would the DNC go all-in for Sanders?

  18. Cat Burglar

    After getting into practice in 2016, Dem elites are likely to be much better organized to take on Sanders and Warren.

    You can see the barriers going up, one by one: flooding the field with candidates to ensure no first ballot nominations, the continued presence of the superdelagates, lack of any mass new voter registration campaign, the deployment of dark money PACs. Last time they had to employ ad hoc measures against Sanders, like at the Nevada State Convention. It may be the last sphere where the meritocracy can show actual competence.

    Should they pull off a successfully rigged nomination, what do they get? They get their hands on all the levers of power and all the goodies, for sure. But I wonder what they think they rule now. Are they deluded enough to assume they will be able to restore legitimacy on the basis of a mid-20th century middle-class silent majority? They will get their hands on the controls, reassure themselves with a check of the angle-of-attack indicator, watch the hi-tech readouts projected on their helmet visors, and suddenly find themselves in a place they never expected.

    1. Camp Lo

      Will the Democratic Establishment take on Sanders? Yes. Take on Warren? No. Warren has not been hostile to the Democratic Establishment. Never picked a fight with the Party. Warren never withheld her support for the 2016 Democratic nominee. Substantial party donors will still donate against their economic interests because social acceptance within the Party network is what the check is buying. Being part of an “In Crowd” is what both parties sell, which is the very essence of politics. Sanders burnt that bridge, which is a bold move, and could pay dividends. But for Sanders to cinch the nomination, he will have to break some Party fingers because the D’s won’t go along without incentives. Some folks just take things personally, is all.

      It’s like the Hollywood golden rule, don’t bad-mouth someone else’s project, even if it’s terrible. You don’t know the circumstances behind the finished product. Work is work, and it is a privilege just to be in the business.

      1. Cat Burglar

        ” ‘ After dinner Larry leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice,’ Ms. Warren writes. “I had a choice. I could be an insider or an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People – powerful people – listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.

        ‘I had been warned, ‘ Ms. Warren concluded.”

        I do not see evidence that Warren has taken Larry Summers’s advice. It is also a matter of record that Sanders endorsed Clinton.

        If what you say is true, I am more than ready for billionaire donors to pony up for Medicare for All, Social Security expansion, and college debt relief, but all I get so far is Harris reneging her support for M4A at a Hampton fundraiser. That suggests that more is being bought than social acceptance. What political “in crowds” do for a living is deliver the goods for their owners — that’s their job. Any account that omits this basic fact is too partial an explanation to be fully credible.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          There is an incredibly similar account of a conversation with Larry Summers given by Yanis Varoufakis on page 8 of his book, “Adults in the Room”. Guess it is a favorite.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Thank you, moderator. Don’t know why that was placed aside, but, in an unusual twist, I was patient (not five o’clock yet).

            1. Cat Burglar

              I found the quote at, presented there as an excerpt from a Gretchen Morgenson article in the NYT. An excerpt from Warren’s memoir, A Fighting Chance, at, has exactly the same language from Summers, though the quotation is set up a little differently.

              It would be interesting to see who else Summers has initiated that way.

        2. pretzelattack

          sanders endorsing clinton, after she won by cheating, is not the same as warren endorsing clinton when supporting sanders could have made a difference (and while that cheating was till happening). i think he should have broken his bargain to endorse her, but i’d still vote for him in this election, because i think i know who he is. i don’t know who warren is when she is wearing her private face.

          1. Cat Burglar

            The tell with Warren could be who her advisors are. Her relative acceptability to the party establishment could mean entry into her campaign by centrist flunkies. That’s one thing I will be watching for.

  19. LarryB

    If the Democrats are a private club, shouldn’t they pay for their own damn elections? I would think having publicly funded elections would carry with it some obligation for fairness and equal protection.

    1. Oh

      Your raise a very good point. If they take public money they forfeit the “right” to keep out certain candidates.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Unfortunately, that is not the case the complainants made. Not sure who would have standing for that one.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It “split” a long time ago, and party affiliation has plummeted to where it isn’t really a “major” party any more – nor the Repubs. So far, the main replacement is the “not voting” “party.” We shall see when people decide to get serious.

  20. notabanker

    When I gaze into my 2020 crystal ball, one needs to look no further than this post to see the outcome of the “Democratic” primary / convention. Sanders will not be permitted the nomination, regardles of polls, election etc….

  21. Cat Burglar

    I can’t find the source, but I remember Royko objected to people that called Chicago dishonest. “Where else will a judge keep his word for five hundred dollars?”

  22. Jack Parsons

    The primaries are about competence, not policy.

    They are about putting a bunch of cage-fighters into a cage and waiting until only one comes out. They hose off the winner, dress them up, and say ‘well, don’t that look Presidential!’.

    Do you want a competent president? Sure you do! What’s competence? Screwing over Canada, Germany and China? Yes! We want a competent vicious swine who sometimes comes through for us.

    A primary process that is short-circuited like Repubs in 2008 (against Ron Paul) and Dems in 2016 (for HRC) cuts out the competence test. Now, the Repubs have a problem in that they had a clean process in 2016, but what they tested for in the primaries chose Trump. They don’t want to make that mistake again. The Dems have superdelegates to slap you in the face with their unfairness.

    Now, on the “competent evil swine-o-meter”, Harris comes first. Warren was a Harvard faculty professor, so if you think she doesn’t know up-close-and-personal political knife-fighting, you are so wrong. But how that translates to President-level, I don’t know.

    A big part of evil swinism is screwing with your opponents on details. I believe HRC’s people got O’s people to think that a closed-door caucus started at X PM, when it was really an hour earlier. O’s people got there after the doors were locked and they were very not happy about it. This is exactly what we want a President to excel at!

    Is Sanders a vicious swine when he needs to be? We’ll find out.

    1. inode_buddha

      Who wants a vicious swine to represent them? And what does that say about them, and their process?

    2. JBird4049

      I can understand why people people would not mind having a vicious man-boar in charge as long as they are viciously serving the American nation. Fine. That’s certainly better than the class of political prostitutes working ostensibly working for us when they are really servicing the donor class. However, I would prefer the rule of law as well as the previous norms and social expectations that used to be standard especially at the national level. Both political parties starting with the Republicans, but now with the enthusiastic and full help of the Democrats, have been chopping all those things up. First politeness, then common curtesy, then expectations, later the rules and regulations, and finally the actual rule of the law. So now it’s Jungle Politics. Whereas people politely (mostly) accepted losing because next time it could be their turn.

      Supposedly, Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the German Communist Party, said “After Hitler, our turn” after his party and the Nazis had created the political chaos that got the Nazis into power, because he thought he could do the same. He died in a concentration camp in 1944.

      I don’t want human swine running our country. I want responsible adults, which really, should not be an unreasonable desire.

      BTW, I don’t see Harris as some tough evil swine. I see as a mean little girl pulling wings off flies for the funzies.

    3. Cat Burglar

      It is always preferable to have policies you oppose instituted incompetently. That is one reason it is better to have Trump as President than Pence, who gives signs of being a competent fanatic.

      Your story about caucus machinations likely refers to the Nevada State Democratic nominating convention in 2016, when DNC shills expert at procedural maneuvering allowed the centrist candidate to best Sanders. They were so competent that all of us can now contemplate the expert meritocracy administered by President Hillary Clinton.

      Masters of technique win, and the substance of the goals, like policy, is irrelevant: that’s the technocratic argument. That’s what Melville had Ahab saying too, but I forget what happened next.

  23. ElViejito

    Google is becoming more obvious at censorship, methinks. I always use Duck Duck Go – unless it is some rarified technical issue that demands more reach.

  24. MikeyB

    So the primary process is merely theater. The DNC let’s you think you have a voice, but it has that backroom meeting about who gets the superdelegates to get them over the top in a tight race. If someone simply runs away with the primaries, then it’s pretty tough to rig the system.
    I think the REAL reason with DNC Debbie rigged the nomination is because she wanted to be known as the person who got a woman elected to the White House. Debbie wanted the schools and parks named after her. She wanted the line in political history books with her name as someone ‘instrumental’ in getting Clinton elected. She wanted to command high five or low six figure speaking engagement fees. Maybe even write a book, and sell the movie rights.

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