The year of 2016 will go down in American history as a tumultuous time, but what will be debated is whether or not that’s due to one side or two.
While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eventually became the Democrats’ nominee, she wasn’t the candidate the democratic party actually wanted. In a stark contrast, out of all the controversies associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, rigging the Republican nomination wasn’t one of them. Conservative voters made it abundantly clear that a brash outsider with a populist oriented approach to politics was the nominee they wanted.
Democrats were greatly split between Clinton, a well-established politician who has her fair share of government experience but doesn’t exactly possess a fair amount of trust from the common people, with Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent turned Democrat who also had an outsider image combined with far-left policies that triggered a surge of enthusiasm with progressive voters.
Americans will never know for sure how Sanders would’ve fared against Trump in the electoral race, largely because the DNC favored Clinton. In the summer of 2016, WikiLeaks exposed 20,000 emails from the DNC’s servers, with a fair amount of exposed emails detailing the attempt to undermine Sanders’ chances.
Mark Paustenbach, a committee official responsible for communications, sent an email to the communications director of the committee, Luis Miranda, that provides a clear example of the bias against Sanders.
“Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess”
Finding a damaging narrative for Bernie was a priority for the heads of the DNC as one email revealed that they were even willing to make his religious beliefs a subject of controversy.
Brad Marshall, the chief financial officer of the DNC committee at the time, is the official that wanted to use this approach.
“It might make no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God?” Marshall wrote.
“He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points differences with my peeps.”
However, the bias against Bernie and the bias for Hillary would be more than the use of using one’s faith as a way to divide the electorate. It would ultimately come down to finances.
Donna Brazile, the woman who served as interim chair for the DNC shortly after the release of the leaked emails, discusses in her new book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, how much control Hillary’s campaign had over the DNC’s finances prior to her announcing her candidacy.
“Officials from Hillary’s campaign had taken a look at the DNC’s books. Obama left the party $24 million in debt-$15 million in bank debt and more than $8 million owed to vendors after the 2012 campaign-and had been paying that off very slowly. Obama’s campaign was not scheduled to pay it off until 2016,” Brazile explained before mentioning how Clinton fits into the picture.
“Hillary for America (the campaign) and the Hillary Victory Fund (its joint fundraising vehicle with the DNC) had taken care of 80 percent of the remaining debt in 2016, about $10 million, and had placed the party on an allowance.”
Essentially, Clinton’s campaign became a financial lifeline for the DNC. Consequently, this made Clinton the figurehead of the Democratic party even before the beginning of the primary. In hindsight, Sanders didn’t have a chance because he didn’t resonate with left leaning voters, it was more that he was denied a chance when Clinton’s campaign consolidated total control over the entire party by putting it on an allowance.
Sanders wasn’t even the only democrat that was ostracized due to the financial situation.
“The leaked emails revealed Hillary’s campaign was grabbing money from the state parties for its own purposes, leaving the states with very little to support down-ballot races. States kept less than half of 1 percent of the $82 million they had amassed from the extravagant fund-raisers Hillary’s campaign was holding,” Brazile recalled.
With this information taken into consideration, it’s easy to see why the current Democratic party is in shambles. A party that once united itself around leaders such as FDR, Truman, Wilson and Kennedy gave control of a party historically viewed as the voice of the common American citizenry, to an elitist. If one remembers the democratic primary of 2016, people will have an easy time recollecting that it was Sanders who caused a surge of excitement with democratic voters.
Unlike Clinton, Sanders was largely seen as a candidate who represented the working classes due to his stances on trade, healthcare and establishing free public college education for future generations of Americans. One can only speculate how last year would’ve ended if Sanders had a fair chance and won the nomination, but it’s safe to say that white rural working-class voters would’ve been split between Trump and Sanders, making the election even more interesting and probably more honest on the democratic side.
It needs to be stated that Brazile is not alone in viewing the DNC’s handling of the 2016 election as rigged. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts made a statement on the matter following the release of Brazile’s book to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“We learned today from the former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile that the Clinton campaign, in her view, did rig the presidential nominating process by entering into an agreement to control day-to-day operations at the DNC,” Tapper stated to Warren.
“That’s a real problem. What we’ve got to do now as Democrats now is we’ve got to hold this party accountable,” Warren responded.
Warren is correct. If Democrats have any desire to win back the voters that Trump gained, they’ll have to establish more financially honest policies for the conduct of party operations and campaigns. Considering that most Americans are actually centrists, voters look at the character and policies of a person, and putting a candidate forward who rigged her way to the nomination won’t serve to reestablish a democratic presence in the white house.
Most Americans are ready to see a woman become president and potential candidates like Warren or Kamala Harris might become the democratic candidate that poses a real obstacle to President Trump’s reelection while resonating with a vast base of voters at the same time. Ultimately though, the fact of the matter is that until common Americans feel the DNC is putting forth candidates deemed as trustworthy as they are capable, the democratic party will have a hard period of rebuilding for some time.
Looking for more political opinion pieces? Reporter and columnist Thomas Cahalan uses his history major and passion for politics to bring you the scoop on all the hottest topics. For more pieces like this, check out his piece on the importance of bipartisanship or his assessment of the recent opioid crisis.
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