If you listen to National Media, you’d believe that yesterday in Providence, Rhode Island, national Democratic Rules & Bylaws members donned gloves and decided to go on a full throated attack against Senator Bernie Sanders and progressives. What the media isn’t telling you is that — and this may come as a surprise — NONE of them were physically there. No news outlet was present that I am aware of, none listened to the debate, none talked to the members.
Progressives, you are being had. Whether it was the desire to result in click bait or just shoddy reporting, national news outlets have laid out a case of Democratic rules against Bernie Sanders.
Not only was that not what happened, but by doing such an incredible disservice to members of the Rules & Bylaws Committee, the press has left progressives with a narrative predicated on almost no sourcing, no conversations, and no understanding of the meeting in Providence.
Progressives, it is time to talk.
When the Democratic Rules & Bylaws committee begins to look at the call of the convention, they do so looking forward, not back, at the field that will be presented in 2020, the states involved, and how to assure that voters and candidates have the best opportunity to make their case and try to win.
In the weeks leading up to the meeting in Providence, a growing concern has been not about Bernie Sanders, but about a rise in “Celebrity” candidates; billionaires and others who look at the Democratic party as only a tool, a means by which they can climb into a run for the presidency while they have very little belief in the party in general, and in some cases are openly hostile.
Sitting next to Larry Cohen of CWA, and a board member of Our Revolution, he pointed out that the guidelines as presented would be no issue for Senator Sanders, and also concurred with John Zody, chair of Indiana, on possible extensions that would ask party nominees and candidates to support Democratic efforts up and down the ballot, as a matter of party building.
If you believe The Hill, Politico, or others, this rule was aimed at Senator Sanders. But who would actually be impacted by the rule as structured? Candidates with no public work to back their claim, no party work to identify them, and nothing to define why they should run as a Democratic candidate. This guidance is already basically identical to the guidance Sen. Sanders agreed to in 2016, and codifies that agreement, to make it apply to all.
For these candidates, celebrities and billionaires, the rule change would present a hurdle; a hurdle that many on the committee believe is necessary, that they would run and serve as a Democratic candidate/president.
There is an obligation for press and others to tell the whole story; not sensational clickbait.
There is an old saying; when you talk about someone’s family, either be a part of it, or you better have all your facts right. When the press and others put forward messages claiming that party members organized attacks aimed at a specific campaign they did so with only partial information, and more importantly, they implied individuals had motives without having ever talked to those people. This is shoddy reporting. There were a lot of factors into this, not a ‘single focus’ on Senator Sanders, nor a plan to ‘get’ anyone.
Speaking toward the amendment as proposed, Zody noted: “This is not a real challenge for those who want to do right by the party.” He’s right, it isn’t.
A source familiar with the discussions told Yahoo News, however, that the rule wasn't targeted at Sanders.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and DNC member, posted a photo on Twitter Friday of the rules change at the meeting in Providence, R.I.
Despite members in the room pointing out to the press that no, the rule wasn’t aimed at Sanders, and in fact, wouldn’t directly impact his intent to run, numerous news media and frankly, fake left wing blogs aimed to divide, ran with a story using second hand reporting at best. Jim Roosevelt, speaking this morning to the executive committee, fielded a question about this proposal, responding "this proposal really isn't about the past, it is about the kind of field we are going to have in 2020."
Looking forward to 2020, there is always the possibility the Democratic convention could be early in the calendar — well before Republicans. David McDonald, a RBC member from Washington, pointed out “there are times a Republican will run as a Dem, just to make sure they lose so that next year they can form “Democrats for Republican Candidate X”. This point was made because should there be an early convention, having celebrity or billionaire “huff” candidates who could quickly jump ship and run over to endorse Trump would be bad for the party, and make a mockery of our process.
Numerous members, including progressives, have worried about this very issue. And the rule as framed would satisfy the concerns of those worried while leaving a path for our “family” to participate in full.
It is unfortunate in the extreme that rather than actually come to the event, send a reporter, or interview members of the National Committee, that the press has published second-hand reports with third-hand analysis to reach a point designed to generate click bait. The note that this was geared at one person is second hand click-bait and doesn’t in any way reflect the broad discussion that occurred.
It is time for Democratic members to push back on these narratives and realize if we participate in third-hand news analysis, we will always find reasons to be angry. Instead, like family, we should talk to each other and find out, things like, you know, the truth.
And to the press: shoe leather never hurt anyone. You would have been welcome to take a chair at the Omni in Providence. I promise, none of the members would bite, and you already know most of us.
Attest that you will be:
(1) A Member of the party
(2) Accept the nomination if offered
(3) Will serve in office as a member of the party
TL:DR Summary: the problem is saying this was aimed at Bernie. Sen. Sanders agreed to this in full in 2016. This codifies that and makes the guidance clear for newcomer candidates.
UPDATE: I revised a paragraph because the way it was formulated, while it made sense to me, was conveying a different message than the way in which it was meant. To make sure the meaning was more clear about the parties i was concerned about, it was edited.