Democrats stick it to Sanders again, rigging their own debate to add Bloomberg

After claiming they'd cleaned up their act, the Democratic National Committee has done it again: Rigged its own nominating process to keep Bernie Sanders off the Democratic ticket for president. They did that in the last election, putting a thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, and after that ugly behavior got out, they took great pains to assure would never happen again.

But here we are, with this report from Politico:

The Democratic National Committee is drastically revising its criteria to participate in primary debates after New Hampshire, doubling the polling threshold and eliminating the individual donor requirement, which could pave the way for former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to make the stage beginning in mid-February.

Candidates will need to earn at least 10 percent in four polls released from Jan. 15 to Feb. 18, or 12 percent in two polls conducted in Nevada or South Carolina, in order to participate in the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas. Any candidate who earns at least one delegate to the national convention in either the Iowa caucuses or New Hampshire primary will also qualify for the Nevada debate.

What a coincidence, it comes just as Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls and looks set to secure the Democratic nomination. Democrats have been murmuring to the press for about a week about how that reality scares them. Now we see that they've taking action, putting Bloomberg out front to the voters, as Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg crater, hoping that new-face Bloomberg might just do the trick...

Fine and dandy, except that the Bernie-ites can see exactly what's going on...

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, told POLITICO as the rules were being announced.

Weaver pointed to other current and past candidates like Cory Booker, Yang and Julián Castro, who dropped off the stage because they couldn’t meet the minimum polling threshold.

“Now, suddenly because Mr. Bloomberg couldn’t satisfy one of the prongs, we see it get changed?” Weaver said. “That’s the definition of a rigged system where the rich can buy their way in.”

There's also this, from Deadline Hollywood:

Michael Moore, a surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, lashed out at the Democratic National Committee for changing its debate rules in a way that will allow Michael Bloomberg to qualify “because he’s got a billion f—ing dollars!”


“They removed it so he could be in the next debate,” Moore told the crowd. “He doesn’t have to show he has any support amongst the American people. He can just buy his way onto the debate stage, and I got to tell you what is so disgusting about this. I watched the debate in Iowa two weeks ago — the all white debate. And the fact that the DNC will not allow Cory Booker on that stage. Will not allow Julian Castro on that stage. But they are going to allow Mike Bloomberg on that stage because he’s got a billion fucking dollars.”

Booker and Castro qualified for early debates but failed to make it on the stage for the most recent events. Both have withdrawn from the race.

Moore continued, “I’m sorry. Those days are over. Those days are over.”

Like him or not, Sanders really was cheated of the nomination based on the internal conniving of DNC officials, whose emails were first exposed by Russian hackers (who incidentally, favored Bernie, not Trump, to win the election) and later confirmed by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

The Bernie people could see this and as a result, have been on hairtriggers for any signs of it happening again. Naturally, they notice this latest maneuver, coming on the heels of stories about worried Democrats wanting to stop Sanders at any cost.

It's not just because Sanders is a crazy socialist that the Democratic power establishment wants Sanders gone. It's more specifically that Democrats recognize that against President Trump, Sanders would be a disaster and they fear a wipeout.

"...Democrats have begun aggressive efforts to slow the favorite of the party’s progressive wing, fearing he may become unstoppable and cost Democrats their shot at retaking the White House in November," wrote the Manchester Union-Leader.

Here's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to say just Saturday:

“I just say to all of our friends, you know, you want to go to the left? You want to win the election? Let’s make a decision to win the election. And when you make a decision to win the election, you have to make every decision in favor of winning,” Pelosi told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 

That's cold clarity to the faithful, and far cry from some of Pelosi's strange public statements where she's sounded addled or drunk. She knows what she's talking about here.

To give a bit of the flavor of the buzzsaw they're about to run into, news has leaked out that Trump plans to explicitly denounce socialism in his State of the Union message Tuesday. Good luck selling socialism after that, Berns.

The problem though, is less a wipeout than an extremely embittered wing of the Democratic Party, which, if it recognizes rigging against its candidate a second time, might just punish the party, either by staying home on election day or worse still, forming a third party.

Part of the reason the Bernie-ites have grown so strong at the other Democratic candidates' expense is that the core following of Bernie-ites, maybe 20% to 30% of registered Democrats, are so ferociously loyal. Alienate that crowd and a gargantuan chunk of the Democratic base, not independents, not Republican moderates, not swing voters, is going to be gone.  They're also pretty fanatical in their devotion to Bernie's socialist ideas, so the realists among them are few.  It might have been doable had there been no 2016. But Bernie-ites have been through this farce before. They're hyper-alert for cheatings. And ominous for the DNC, they're also the youngest voters. Watch the future for Democrats dissolve if those voters go.

Bottom line: Democrats might just lose their own voters through this rigging as Bernie people sputter with rage, yet gain little from Bloomberg, whose own views for health care, education, amnesty, subsidies and public housing are faded Xerox copies of Bernie's.

That's an own-goal, and it might just cost Democrats much more than an election. 


Image credit: Michael Vadon, via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

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