Democratic Party split over Sanders becomes real, personal, and very dangerous

The Democrat establishment is waking up to the awful truth on Bernie Sanders: he is a mortal danger to not only the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, but the continued viability of the party’s strategy of mouthing populist rhetoric while practicing crony capitalism.  Too late, they now realize he actually means what he says about a “political revolution,” and bringing him back into the fold by the time of the Philadelphia convention will be a problem.  Sanders is not just a candidate; he is a movement.  And movements don’t compromise, fall in line, kiss and make up, and follow orders.  They agitate until they get satisfaction.

Far from staying in Vegas, what happened last weekend at the Democrats’ Nevada state convention is mushrooming into a open split, complete with recriminations and signs that longstanding personal relationships are at risk.  The May 14 mêlée, complete with boos, demands for recounts, fistfights, thrown chairs, armed police, lights out, and fleeing officials, has sparked deepening alienation of the two factions. 

Manu Raju of CNN:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sharply criticized Bernie Sanders' supporters for turning the Nevada Democratic Convention into chaos over the weekend, saying the Vermont senator should not "accept" how his backers behaved.

"I've been dealing with Nevada state conventions for 50 years: To say I was disappointed was an understatement," Reid told CNN in the Capitol on Monday                    

"I hold his people accountable, and I'm sure if Bernie found out about it, he would not accept what happened there," Reid said.

Sanders' spokesman Michael Briggs pushed back at Reid's comments, calling on Democrats to harness the energy of his boss' backers.

"The Democratic Party would be doing itself a favor if it could find a way to embrace the millions of people who have been energized by Bernie's campaign and want to participate in the democratic process," Briggs said.

Harry Reid, the ruthless, unprincipled party boss in the Senate, had been the closest associate of Sanders, the human bridge between the independent and the party with which he uneasily caucused.  Back then, Sanders’s rhetoric suited Reid just fine, because it was directed outward at the hated GOP.  But Sanders was never as cynical as Reid; he actually bought the socialist fantasy he has been peddling to the voters.  Reid, on the other hand, has been the consummate insider, with his land deals making him a multimillionaire and his close relationship with the dominant industry in his state.

That marriage of convenience is now on the rocks.  In the words of The Hill, Sanders is “defiant”:

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Tuesday accused the Nevada Democratic Party of abusing its power to unfairly hurt his campaign, and denied accusations of promoting violence among his supporters.

He blasted his critics within the party who have accused him of promoting violence, calling such accusations “nonsense.”

“Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization,” Sanders said in a statement. 

“Party Leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense. Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence.”

He said he condemns violence and harassment, before adding that shots were fired into his campaign office in Nevada earlier this year.

Sanders said that at the Nevada Democratic convention on Saturday, “the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place."

“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 they have earned,” the Vermont senator added.

Read the complete Sanders statement here.

Panties are wadding up among the Democrats, for whom power is the real object.  Consider Josh Marshall, head honcho at talkingpointsmemo:

…the 'burn it down' attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

This should have been obvious to me. The tone and tenor of a campaign always come from the top. It wasn't obvious to me until now.

This might be because he's temperamentally like that. There's some evidence for that. It may also be that, like many other presidential contenders, once you get close it is simply impossible to let go. I don't know which it is. That would only be my speculation. But this is coming from Bernie Sanders. It's not Weaver. It's not driven by people around him. It's right from him. And what I understand from knowledgable sources is that in the last few weeks anyone who was trying to rein it in has basically stopped trying and just decided to let Bernie be Bernie.

Sanders speech tonight was right in line with his statement out this afternoon. He identified the Democratic party as an essentially corrupt, moribund institution which is now on notice that it must let 'the people' in. What about the coalitions Barack Obama built in 2008 and 2012, the biggest and most diverse presidential coalitions ever constructed?

Sanders narrative today has essentially been that he is political legitimacy. The Democratic party needs to realize that.

Simon Rosenberg, another insider, realizes where the Dems went wrong.  Via Politico:

"The perception that the DNC and other state parties have unfairly favored Hillary Clinton is going to make the reconciliation of Sanders and Clinton supporters nationally and in the states far harder," said Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, president of the NDN think tank. "The DNC should have tried much harder to address this perception early on, as it always had the potential to become a reason for Sanders partisans to question the legitimacy of Clinton's victory."

Rosenberg is employing the language of “perception” because he can’t tell the outright truth, only hint at it.  The deck was always stacked against Bernie.  The party let him run as a Democrat (something he has never been) because having only one candidate would be too reminiscent of Cuba and North Korea.  They needed a token opponent and figured the cranky old socialist from Vermont would do nicely.  They stacked the debates against him, and they always knew the superdelegates would choose Hillary.

Like the GOP establishment, the party leaders had no idea how angry the country beyond the Beltway really was and remains.  People rightly perceive that the political establishment of both parties works hand in glove with powerful interests in a mutually beneficial relationship.

So the big question for the Democrats is what they do to bring Bernie back into the fold.  If they think tweaking the platform further left will do it, they are mistaken.  Short of offering him the veep nomination, how can they get him to endorse Hillary and appear onstage with her?

It is not clear to me if he would accept being on the ticket with someone he regards as corrupt.  And he is awfully long in the tooth to stand in as a spare.  Face it: Hillary suffered brain trauma, reportedly likes to drink, has been gaining weight, and does not always appear to be in the best of health.

The veep slot might actually matter a lot.

As the GOP unifies behind Trump, the Democrats have got a mess on their hands.  And boy, do they deserve it.