The Democratic Party has lost 69 House seats, 13 Senate seats, over 900 state legislative seats and 12 governorships since President Obama took office. Democrats suffered most of these defeats after the 2014 midterm elections. These defeats were so dramatic that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) put together a task force to examine the problems in the midterm election. The task force’s report said Democrats lack a “cohesive narrative” and recommended that the party find ways to help it explain bedrock values such as fairness, equality and opportunity. Apparently, the DNC misunderstood this proven by their overturning a ban introduced by Barack Obama in 2008 restricting donations from federal lobbyists and super PACs. This opened the floodgates to donations from special interests allowing the future of the Democratic Party to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s alleged favoritism for Hillary Clinton and suppressing Senator Bernie Sanders isn’t helping unite the party either. A joint fundraising committee between the Clinton campaign and the DNC (the Hillary Victory Fund) raised $26.9 million as of December 31, 2015. Thirty-three state Democratic parties signed pacts with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, essentially buying support from Democratic leaders around the country.
If the DNC truly wants to unite the party and energize their base, they should back the candidate that has energized the base more than anyone in over 50 years. Instead, leaders of the Party are backing Hillary Clinton, who only further alienates the types of voters they should be courting. Bernie Sanders has energized the Millennial voting block to come out and be active in the Democratic Process. From what I have seen and heard, Bernie Sanders has energized all ages to get involved, myself included. This is the first year that I have done anything other than vote on election day. It started with caucusing for Bernie Sanders leading to being a Delegate on the Rules Committee for him at the Polk County Convention. The path I am on now is a life and soul consuming, one that has me on 6 different committees and subcommittees, being a Delegate at the District and State Conventions and campaigning to become a National Delegate at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Hillary Clinton has adopted a lot of Bernie Sanders’ platform, while at the same time painting his ambitions as unrealistic, expensive pipe dreams that could never be enacted into legislation. Hillary Clinton is still the establishment backed candidate despite this. Due to this fact, may of Bernie Sanders’ supporters will never vote for Hillary Clinton and have spawned the Bernie or Bust movement, pledging in ever increasing numbers to only vote for him.
The Democratic establishment’s failure to embrace Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, or at the very least not downgrade it, could be a recipe for disaster for the Democratic Party. At the very least the Democratic establishment should stop treating Bernie Sanders’ candidacy as an in convenient obstacle in the way of Hillary Clinton’s coronation. Doing this only alienates Bernie Sanders’ supporters, making them feel like the process is rigged. This will require an embrace of meaningful reforms to campaign finance, Wall Street, income inequality, education and racial justice.
Americans have made it abundantly clear that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Donald Trump is on his way to securing the Republican Nomination and recent polls show Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in a general election. If the DNC continues to push their base away instead of uniting and energizing them, the Democratic Party may have a very short future.