Listen Up, Democrats

Published: November 6, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
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While Republicans struggle to find unity among themselves, Democrats have nothing to cheer about.

In a new political memoir from Donna Brazile, the former head of the Democratic National Committee writes scathingly about the battles that took place within the party during the 2016 election.

“Ms. Brazile,” The New York Times writes (Nov. 3), “took over as the interim chairwoman of the committee at the start of the party’s 2016 convention after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida resigned from the post following the leaking of emails obtained by Russian hackers that showed that party officials were working together to the detriment of Mr. Sanders’s campaign.”

While media sources began parsing excerpts from Brazile’s book – Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House – (on the Politico website) the Democratic strategist defended herself on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos (Nov. 5).

Asked if the primaries had been rigged to favor Clinton, Brazile responded, “I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”

Nonetheless, Brazile writes that the fundraising agreement between the Clinton campaign and the DNC “was ‘a cancer’ that disadvantaged Senator Bernie Sanders because it gave Clinton’s campaign a measure of influence over some DNC operations in exchange for helping the party raise money,” The Washington Post writes (Nov. 5).

During the interview, Brazile’s anger was apparent when she discussed decision-making within the DNC.

BRAZILE: … I could not control the purse strings of the Democratic Party. …I become chair and I’m trying to write a check for something. I raised the money and they’re like, you have got to get signed off from Brooklyn [Clinton campaign]. I said Brooklyn? This wasn’t a standard joint fundraising agreement. They had a memorandum of understanding. And I needed to break that, but in order to break it, I would cause a great commotion. …

STEPHANOPOULOS: …it appears from at least one email, that the Sanders campaign was offered the exact same term. They could also negotiate an agreement of their own if they raised more money. They chose not to.

BRAZILE: The Sanders campaign set up a joint fund-raising account as well, but they chose not to put money in it. But they also chose to allow the DNC to control what little funds they did put in it. …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Passionate Democrats say they feel betrayed by all this. Any regrets?

BRAZILE: Do I regret taking on a job the second time in my life as chair of the party, cleaning up everyone’s mess, taking all of the incoming, being unable to spend funds that I raised? Do I regret being on the road 100 percent of the time, being hacked by the Russians, being harassed, getting death threats? Do I regret any of that? George, was worse than Hurricane Katrina in terms of the emotional toll. But do I regret stranding up for what is right, helping Hillary Clinton, helping the Democratic Party?

… as somebody who went through the hacking experience, being able to tell the truth about what happened with the Russians, the attack on our government do I regret any of that? No. I wish I could have done more, George. …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree with Elizabeth Warren that the primaries were rigged?

BRAZILE: … what I said, George, as you well know… I said I would get to the bottom of everything. And that’s what I did. And I called Senator Sanders to say, you know, I wanted to make sure there was no rigging of the process. I’m on the rule and bylaws committee. I found no evidence, none whatsoever.”

And Brazile acknowledges her own mistakes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also write about that email where you appear to share questions with the Clinton campaign.

BRAZILE: Yes, I did. …I knew I sent emails. Of course, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you’re not denying that you sent this email?

BRAZILE: …first of all, I said, straight up, I said, look, if this was sent, I know why I sent it. I apologize. …

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you ever share questions with the Sanders campaign?

BRAZILE: … I shared with everybody, because you know what, I wanted the best information possible. The second thing is, I didn’t want the candidates shocked by the nature of the questions. For the first time, we were going to go beyond… talking about the usual issues that animate Democratic primaries, and we were going to talk about issues that concerned Black Lives Matter.

In an excerpt from her book on Politico, Brazile adds, “I had tried to search out any other evidence of internal corruption that would show that the DNC was rigging the system to throw the primary to Hillary, but I could not find any in party affairs or among the staff. I had gone department by department, investigating individual conduct for evidence of skewed decisions, and I was happy to see that I had found none. Then I found this agreement.

“The funding arrangement with [Hillary for America] and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.”

Brazile told Stephanopoulos, “I am very confident that Tom Perez is leading in the right direction. We have a unity commission that is going to examine all of the things that I raised about the primary contest and the caucus system. We have Keith Ellison and others who are energizing the grass roots. The party is making a substantial investment in the states.”

Due the unethical excesses in both parties, I’m pinning my hopes for major reform on The Problem Solvers caucus — a group of Republicans and Democrats committed to working in a bipartisan way to solve the nation’s deepest issues.

Only when ALL Republicans and Democrats realize that they were elected to work together around a shared group of principles — only then will all of us trust in a process that is not only inclusive and fair, but lives up to the spirit as well as the letter of their oath of office:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

And after taking that oath, both parties should acknowledge that neither is the enemy.


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