The irreparable disunity of the Democratic Party

A week ago, Democrats were snickering at how supposedly “chaotic” the Republican National Convention was, with the Never Trump movement attempting to undermine the nominee, and Ted Cruz failing to endorse his one-time rival.

Today, I bet the Democrats would take those problems over their own.

AX099_1C47_9The truth of the matter is that both parties are living through a tremendously challenging identity crisis. Both are full of divisions and disunity. Both have nominated flawed candidates. Both are far less stage-managed than in years past. Both have unruly party members causing mischief.

Yet, when one looks at the Republican Party, they see an uncomfortable family food fight at Thanksgiving. The nature of the disagreement that Republicans are currently living through basically boils down to questions of what we ideologically believe, and how we handle the conflict between the establishment and the growing strain of populism rushing through the party.

Difficult, but nothing inherently dishonest or oppressive about the conflict.

When one looks at the fissure in the Democratic Party, they see something far more dangerous.

Bernie Sanders supporters are essentially made of up two groups of people. The first is longtime, party-loyal Democrats who are extremely liberal, even outright socialist, and chose Bernie over Clinton based on his platform of ideas.

The second is made up of rabble-rousing leftists with no loyalty to the party at all, including activist-minded young people, hard-left independents, and anti-establishmentarian liberals who have always viewed the Democratic Party as a slightly less awful version of the Republican Party.

This second, far larger group, decided to roll the dice and take a chance on Bernie this year because they believed in him personally. In so doing, they chose to participate in the Democratic Party infrastructure and trusted that the game would ultimately be fair.

That trust was shattered when the Democratic National Committee’s internal emails were released by Wikileaks.

Suddenly, those activists who believed that their plucky, underdog campaign was at the very least being treated fairly by the Democrats found out the establishment was actively working against them.

First, there was the internal derision shown by senior DNC staff. Mark Paustenbach, one of the party’s communications staff, pounced on a Sanders campaign database server glitch from earlier in the year, and proposed that DNC staff plant stories with the press portraying Bernie’s campaign as being in disarray.

“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story,” Paustenbach wrote, “which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.” The email was sent to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director.

Then there was the exchange between the committee’s chief financial officer, Brad Marshall, and Amy Dacey, the committee’s CEO, that pitched the idea of finding a way to bring attention to Bernie’s religious beliefs — or lack thereof.

“It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God,” wrote Marshall. “He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps.”

And then there was the press collusion. More than anything in the leak, the incestuous relationship between the DNC officials and the press was apparent, making the committee’s inherent bias against Sanders all the worse.

In one insane example, a Politico reporter, Ken Vogel, sent a full draft of a story he was writing to the DNC before he even submitted it to his editors.

“Per agreement … any thoughts appreciated,” Vogel wrote to Paustenbach, attaching the story he had written. Upon forwarding the email to Miranda, Paustenbach added this, “Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it. Let me know if you see anything that’s missing and I’ll push back.”

Per agreement. Given, so long as it isn’t shared.

This is the kind of unprofessional, dishonest, lazy yellow journalism that conservatives have come to expect from the media. Now, with an anti-Bernie DNC in collusion with the press, finally somebody else is seeing and feeling it.

This impression that the game was rigged the whole time, and that the Democratic establishment was never going to let Sanders win and was in fact actively engaged in preventing him from succeeding is going to be a major liability for Hillary Clinton this fall.

She needs these Sanders supporters desperately, and as the Democratic convention drags on, with more heckling, protests and walkouts, it’s clear that she isn’t getting it.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.