In a time when the Democrats have to be doubling down on mending the divide between the progressive and establishment wings, the national committee decides to pass a not so subtle rule that takes a swipe at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Democratic National Committee has made it known that all future presidential candidates must identify as Democrats (via Politico):
Democratic National Committee officials on Friday moved forward with a proposal to force the party’s presidential candidates to identify as Democrats, a move that drew immediate criticism from a top official in Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign.
The prospective rule change, approved by the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, would not necessarily impact Sanders, the independent Vermont senator who ran for president as a Democrat.
Sources familiar with the discussion said officials believed the rule change could help garner support for a separate bid to reduce the influence of superdelegates in the party’s presidential nomination process — a priority of Sanders’ supporters after the 2016 election. Both proposals are scheduled to be considered by the full DNC in August.
Still, Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser to Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, bristled at the DNC committee’s action.
“I really don’t get the motivation for the resolution at all,” he said. “You know, Bernie Sanders got 13 million votes in 2016. Thousands, if not millions, of those votes were young people and independents he brought into the Democratic Party. And I’m just stunned that the Democratic Party’s rules committee would want to try to make the Democratic Party an exclusive club, for which we want to exclude voters and large segments of the American electorate.”
Yeah, this did not go over well with the Sanders crew. This was an obvious swipe at the ascendant left wing of the Democratic Party. This was a criticism of Sanders in 2016, that no one ever really pushed aggressively, which is that he isn’t even a member of the party. Something that was made even more explicit when the DNC chair Tom Perez went on a unity tour (through primary states that Sanders won) with the Vermont senator co-headlining the event. The savior of the party, the man who generates buzz and energy within the rank-and-file…isn’t even a member. And now, you make a rule saying that only people who identify as such can run for the party’s nomination.
Mr. Sanders is an independent who self-identifies as a democratic socialist. Vermont is a no party registration state, so he could run again in 2020, despite not being a registered Democrat. Sanders’ campaign aides would say he ran as a Democrat, which I guess you could chalk up as identifying as such, but it shows that the old wounds from 2016 have not healed. Maybe it’s also a warning to Sanders that should he run in 2020, that this will certainly be brought up to avoid another defeat. As if Hillary Clinton’s loss was his fault. To the contrary, it’s very possible that if Sanders had won the primaries; he would be president right now, as he energized young voters, but also white working class voters. The DNC just said to the Sanders wing that the party brass still considers them as the “other” element. Hey, I’m not complaining. Democratic blood sports are top-notch entertainment.
On top of this rule change, the DNC has yet to address the superdelegates in the nomination process, which is another action item for progressives. They view these delegates, who can vote for whichever candidate and are seen as a vanguard against loony candidates, as a bastion of elitism. So, while the news media sweats about how the GOP has become Trump’s party, whatever that means—that fight was over when Trump won the nomination, further reinforced when tax reform was passed in December of 2017—there’s still internal drama with the Democrats.