Democrats' Divisiveness and the House of Cards

Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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Posted: May 19, 2016 12:01 AM
Democrats' Divisiveness and the House of Cards

While there has been much consternation and media coverage of the split between Trump supporters and the Republican establishment in the past few months, the Democratic Party has focused on its unity message and progressed through its primary process by glossing over internal differences. 

But this message of unity ground to a halt this past weekend during the Nevada Democratic Party convention. 

The convention was shut down due to protests from unruly Sanders supporters who were upset with the delegate process and delegates awarded during the convention. Videos of the event show Sanders supporters shouting over Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and chairs being thrown on stage. Shocking. 

With these visuals, the Democrats' unity message has gone up in flames. 

The activities of the weekend were topped off by the Nevada state party Democratic Chairwoman receiving death threats. So much for party unity. This type of activity is to be expected in the Netflix original series, "House of Cards," but not anticipated in real life, nor should it be acceptable. 

Why would anyone watching the process want to become involved in an activity that might result in a death threat along with threats against their children and grandchildren? If the goal of the political process is to make positive change, we should be encouraging people to get involved; not making them turn away from the process entirely. 

After being called on by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Bernie Sanders offered a statement regarding the incident that both condemned violence in general while providing an excuse to those who took the low road during the process. Sanders began by admonishing the leadership in the Democratic Party, "It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics. The people of this country want a government which represents all of us, not just the 1 percent, super PACs and wealthy campaign contributors." 

Sanders continued by noting the past good behavior of his supporters, "Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a 'penchant for violence.' That is nonsense...I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals." 

Sanders concluded with a veiled threat that "if the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect...that was not the case at the Nevada convention." 

Should the Democratic Party leadership be concerned about a potential eruption of incivility in Philadelphia? 

Absolutely. 

Tuesday night, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Sanders' response to Nevada was "anything but acceptable." She added that Reid had reached out to Sanders prior to the statement being issued and that his connection to Sanders "was enough" of a response from the Democratic leadership. 

Seriously? She is the DNC chairwoman. 

When pushed by Blitzer, she acknowledged that she had not contacted Sanders personally. That admission itself provided an insight into the dysfunction of the Democratic Party and its nomination process. Of course, it helps to remember that Sanders himself only recently became a Democrat, after decades as an independent. 

The Democratic Party leadership might very well feel as though their party has been hijacked. 

Wasserman Schultz told Blitzer that "unfortunately, the senator's response was anything but acceptable. It certainly did not condemn his supporters for acting violently or engaging in intimidation tactics and instead added more fuel to the fire." 

Reid's reaction to Sanders' statement was to ask for more from Sanders. "Bernie should say something -- not have some silly statement. Bernie is better than that. Bernie should say something -- not have some statement someone else prepared for him," he said. "I'm surprised by his statement. I thought he was going to do something different." 

Well, Reid was wrong, and Wasserman Schultz has not even communicated with the Sanders campaign. Welcome to the Democratic Party's version of House of Cards. As split as the Republican Party may be, the Democratic Party appears to be even more dysfunctional.