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Democrats and the DNC are Still Terrible

Image from Star 94.1.

Without a doubt there haven’t been too many red-letter days for the Democratic Party since their 2016 losses.  Losses which resulted in Republicans taking control of both chambers of Congress, Governorships, State legislatures, and the White House.  And just when it looked like it couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Democrats… enter Single Payer getting shelved in California, Jeh Johnson, Jon Ossoff, and the AHCA.  In fact, this week might just be the week the Dem Party reached full-meltdown.

After their fourth straight special election loss, unfavorable revelations in the Russian interference investigation, and culminating with the GOP making public a heinous healthcare bill that will strip millions of their coverage, a bill that sparked protests outside of Mitch McConnell’s office and ended with Capitol police dragging disabled protesters out of their wheelchairs and placing them under arrest…is there anything about the Democratic Party and DNC that is redeemable?


On Wednesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during his opening statement to Congress made it clear that, “To [his] current knowledge, the Russian government did not, through any cyber intrusion, alter ballots, ballot counts, or reporting of election results.”  While Johnson could not claim that the DNC hack had any influence on public opinion ahead of last year’s election, he warned that officials should “assume” that the Russian government and other State actors will continue to attempt to undermine U.S. elections through cyberattacks and other means.  However, the possibility of foreign election interference, and the fact that voting machines can be hacked, has been a well-known problem to officials, security experts, and the American public for years.  Unfortunately, those issues can’t necessarily be handled until it actually happens.

So, the question is why, given well-known vulnerabilities in U.S. election infrastructure and cybersecurity, would the DNC refuse to allow the DHS and FBI to access their servers after a purported hack by what Debbie Wasserman Schultz herself referred to as “an enemy State.”   During his Congressional testimony, Johnson stated that once he became aware of the hack on DNC servers in 2016, he questioned his staff about whether they had been “sufficiently proactive and on the scene helping the DNC identify the intruders and patch vulnerabilities.” However, it seems that at this point, the DHS suffers some manner of Intelligence Community Bystander Effect.  As Johnson claims that since the “FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other months before about the intrusion, and the DNC did not feel it needed DHS’s assistance at that time,” the DHS did not pursue the matter further.

However, James Comey reported in January that the DNC never allowed the FBI access to their servers, or to John Podesta’s smartphone, in order to investigate the hack. Instead, The DNC hired the private cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike to carry out the investigation, and the FBI used the data provided by CrowdStrike to make their conclusions. It is still unknown why the DNC denied repeated requests by the FBI to investigate the original devices, or why the FBI decided to make any assumptions based on CrowdStrike’s report without access to the original devices. While the mainstream media seem to finally be catching up, many others have been asking why the DNC would reject the Department of Homeland Security’s help, why they would refuse to allow the FBI to access to their servers, and why Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile have not been forced to answer these questions for nearly a year.

Moreover, why, when there is no evidence that hacking had any influence on public opinion or vote totals, has this become a national crisis requiring endless news coverage and countless Congressional hearings?  And why, when there is absolutely nothing new about election interference (foreign governments have been interfering in U.S. elections for decades, and the U.S. has interfered in at least 81 foreign elections), has this become the number one issue of the Democratic Party?  

According to former NSA senior executive Thomas Drake:            

It’s just pure political pretension and there is a significant amount of propaganda behind it. It’s intended to distract. It’s intended to keep people from really looking at some of the deeper truths of our own government and so it is very convenient for the political elites, on both sides of what has become the Democratic/Republican divide, which in fact is not a divide; it’s two sides of the same coin, with [a] slightly different narrative – to project all the blame on Russia and particularly the hyper-conflation of the littlest thing that would appear to be that Trump is ruining the country or Trump is the worst thing that has ever happened.  Just really taking this way, way beyond the pale.

Unfortunately, rather than taking time to self-reflect on their loss to Trump, the Democrats simply double-down on the Russian narrative and continue to completely ignore the countless issues afflicting U.S. government, the American public and their own Party.  While Debbie Wasserman Schulz accuses Jeh Johnson of being “wrong in every respect” and “utterly misinformed” about the DNC’s response to Russian hacking, and Donna Brazile claims that “the Russians had been booted from our system by the time DHS called” in an effort to cover for their incompetence (or their lies), the entire country is in turmoil.

Democrats set Fire to $24 Million Dollars

While the country burns and the Party is in ruins, the Democrats just sank $24 million into nebulous candidate Jon Ossoff, in an unwinnable Congressional race, in Deep-Red-district Georgia.  Rather than running on a Democratic platform that included single-payer in a State that refused to expand Medicaid after the ACA, Democrats, in their infinite backwards-thinking, ran a Democratic candidate on a platform that consisted of…cut wasteful spending, no increased taxes, cut small business taxes, and no single-payer.  The Democratic Party spent more on Jon Ossoff than they have ever spent on any Congressional candidate in history, and they lost.  While it’s true that no Democrat has held that seat in many decades, Clinton only lost the district to Trump by one point in 2016. Given the massive expenditures, perceived disenchantment with Trump, and an upsurge in turnout, Ossoff’s 3.7 point defeat in the district should be a wake-up call to the Party.

What’s worse, in 2016 a ghost candidate with no media presence, no campaign website, no public images, no platform, and no money earned more votes in his race against Tom Price in the same district than pretend-Democrat Jon Ossoff earned against Karen Handel.  Most Progressives see Ossoff’s loss as a massive failure of DNC leadership and their overpriced consultants.  People for Bernie co-founder Winnie Wong stated after the loss, that the “Democratic Party prioritizes the needs of the consultant class rather than listening to what the voters want” and that “the Democratic Party could spend $100 million and he would still lose. Because he didn’t stand for anything.”

However, it doesn’t seem to occur to Democrats that perhaps they lost because they ran a Democrat on a Republican platform.  You cannot energize Independent and Democratic voters to show up and vote in any election with candidates who offer more of the same nothing.  Unfortunately, in response to the loss, many Democrats simply patted themselves on the backs for doing as well as they did (more losing is winning).  While others argued that the best course of action is to just keep doing the exact same thing they have been doing, trying to win over the elusive “moderate Republican” voter.  

Clearly, Dem Party leadership has learned very little from election defeats in 2016, and now in 2017.  They still seem to be more interested in wooing Republican voters than they are in winning back their Progressive base, and they are still relying on Trump-Russia deflections rather than meaningful policy to get them through the 2018 Midterms.  The only notable exception to this baffling lack of self-awareness is Sen. Chris Murphy who, after Ossoff’s loss, admitted that Dems needed to turn away from the Russia “distraction” and begin to campaign on an economic message.  Progressives agree, without a message and without a strong economic platform, Democrats will not win in 2018.

A Party Without a Message and a Platform

If unity on the Left is the goal of new DNC leadership, they seem completely oblivious as to what that actually requires. In fact, Tom Perez’s promise of cleaning house appears to be every bit as hollow as Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp.”  For example, having Twitter propagandist and Dem Party divider Neera Tanden sit in on a conversation about healthcare is an especially egregious example of just how clueless the Dem Party leadership is.  If DNC leadership assumes that Progressives have forgotten how Tanden struck down Progressive planks to the Party’s platform that advocated for single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, and proposals to halt climate change, they are sorely mistaken. Given that Tanden has been a constant source of division between the Bernie and Hillary camps of the Democratic Party, and that she has recently penned an op-ed against single-payer (for ACA), it is more than a little tone-deaf of “Deputy DNC Chair” Keith Ellison to sit down with her and discuss the future of the Party.  Unless, of course, that future includes continued division and the loss of many more elections.  

Ellison awkwardly introduces Tanden as one of the “sharpest minds in the whole country” and begins the conversation with the statement… “resistance summer is going well.”  As the conversation moves on, it is clear that the DNC has not committed to fighting for anything. Instead, they continue to double-down on the “Trump is bad” meme that hasn’t won them any elections in the last year.

Beyond resistance, the DNC and Democratic Party are not offering any real message or platform for voters to get behind, they continue to ignore the Progressive base of the party, and, by refusing to back single-payer healthcare, they are ignoring nearly 60% of the country on both sides of the ticket.  As reported by Jessica Chasmer of The Washington Times during the failed DNC unity tour, Sanders explained, “I am often asked by the media and others, ‘How did it come about that Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate in the modern history of our country, won the election?’ And my answer is that Trump didn’t win the election, the Democratic Party lost the election.” He continued, “Let us be very, very clear: The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic party is an absolute failure.”

The DNC has another chance to change course in the capacity of relegating superdelegates to a thing of the past in their unity commission meetings.  But, as time will bear out, it is our belief that the outcome will be less than adequate to show any true change or insight, yet ‘progressives’ within the commission will praise whatever concessions are handed their way.

If the DNC and Democrats need another metric to measure their failure, one I’m sure they are way more accustomed to keeping an eye on, it’s their money.  John Bowden of The Hill reported that the DNC “had its worst May since 2003, raising just $4.3 million dollars as it struggles to rebound from a series of election defeats.”  

Democrats Refuse to get it Right on Healthcare

If Democrats want to win, they must start with fully supporting single-payer healthcare. It is really just that simple.  Rather than trying to “win” moderate Republican’s votes with a tired pro-business, anti-tax platform, they should be trying to energize their base and win the votes of Independents with an affirmative message and policy.

Yet Democrats can’t seem to get the message. Such evidence of the Democratic Party’s inability to get it right on healthcare came this evening when California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) chose to shelve the single-payer SB 562.  While Rendon claims the Bill was “woefully incomplete” as his reason for sending the bill back to committee, many are considering it an attempt to shelve the Bill permanently.

It is entirely unbelievable that Dem Party elites did not notice the massive turnout and excitement created by Bernie Sanders and his platform. An almost unknown candidate, who received almost no positive media exposure, with no Super PAC funding, and virtually no superdelegate support almost bested the most admired woman in the world.  If the Democratic Party has any interest in winning elections, it will have to find its soul and its roots as the “Party of the People.” The party will have to run on the same issues that got so many Independent and first time voters to the polls during the Democratic primary:

  • Single-Payer Healthcare
  • Liveable Wages
  • Debt-Free Public College
  • Halting Climate Change
  • Overturning Citizens United
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Pay-Equity
  • Ending Military Interventionism
  • Job Creation
  • Immigration Reform
  • Racial Justice
  • Wall Street Reform

We need Democratic politicians who are willing to move beyond the Russian narrative and address their decades-long neglect. We need Democratic politicians who prioritize the needs of voters, not the needs of consultant and donor classes, and we have reached the point where we are not willing to settle for anything less than that.

So, is the Democratic Party redeemable?  Judging by the words and deeds of Democratic politicians and the DNC over the last seven months, it would seem that it is not.  The Ossoff race, single-payer being shelved in California, the AHCA, the denial of responsibility for the Party’s loss to Trump, the deflection, the lack of self-awareness, the disinterest in what voters want, and the party’s lack of message and policy are all emblematic of complete Democratic Party failure.  

Written by Beth Lynch

Mother, advocate, activist, academic, unapologetic Feminist and Progressive. Beth is a Writer for Progressive Army.
Follow Beth on Twitter @BethLynch2020.

Written by Andre Roberge

Father, Husband. Went to school for philosophy (university of WA) and now I work for a train company -- Interests include Labor Law, TILA, Unions, Paid Family Leave, Healthcare, Philosophy of Science, Fantasy Football and Open Government-- Fanboy of The Take Down with Nick Nowlin and The Way with Anoa. Follow Andre on Twitter @SubvertingPower.

Andre Roberge is a Researcher and Writer for Progressive Army.


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  1. Progressive. n. Someone who does everything possible to screw things up for the Democrats–then can’t figure out why the Democrats aren’t more progressive.

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Democrats and the DNC are Still Terrible