Donna Brazile’s Nov. 2 article for POLITICO was well-written, well-expressed and definitely a great promotion for her new book, “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” It was interesting to read the excerpt about her time as the interim chair of the Democratic Party after Debby Wasserman-Schultz stepped down in July 2016. In the article, Brazile specifically recalls her shock at learning about the Clinton campaign’s financial control of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). What I did not enjoy, however, was the destructive impact the article had on the Democratic Party’s already prevalent rift between establishment Democrats and Bernie Sanders’ progressives.
The DNC has faced a financial problem since Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election. Political scientist Daniel Galvin argues that Obama left the DNC financially dry in favor of supporting the 2013 Obama-team nonprofit Organizing for Action (OFA). This decision is, according to Galvin, not unlike previous Democratic presidents, like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, but its impact was a direct cause of the problems the DNC had in the 2016 election. Brazile’s article touches on this and showcases multiple other factors leading to the DNC’s 2015 decision to form a shared fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign. While Brazile does not use her article to directly claim that the primaries were rigged, she does point to the agreement being strange, effectively giving the Clinton campaign control of the DNC’s “finances, strategies, and all the money raised” and requiring the DNC “to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”
Boris Heersink, an assistant professor in political science at Fordham University, writes about the details of Brazile’s article in The Washington Post’s article “No, the DNC didn’t ‘rig’ the Democratic primary for Hillary Clinton.” Heersink explains that many of the details, including the DNC’s staff showing favor to Clinton prior to her becoming the nominee as revealed in the 2016 DNC leaked emails, is historical to the party. The 1999 DNC senior staff had major relations to Al Gore, most notably the chairman and the finance chair.
It is also important to remember that the leaked DNC emails showed Brazile providing Hillary Clinton’s campaign with debate questions before primary debates, meaning while Brazile may be looking to shed light on the problems in the party, it is all doing more harm than good. The Clinton campaign’s actions, however, are not the primary problems that need to be discussed. What the Democratic Party really needs to focus on is the common enemy: Donald Trump.
With 2018 midterm elections coming, Democrats have the opportunity to do major damage to the incumbent Republicans. In September 2017, a CNN poll conducted by the SSRS claimed that 29 percent of Americans held a favorable view of the Republican party. In August 2017, it was reported by a Gallup poll that 16 percent of Republicans approved of the job Congress was doing compared to the 12 percent approval from Democrats. These polls show a clear consensus: 2018 could be disastrous for the party and for Trump’s presidency. The Democratic Party could flip Congress and change the tide of the presidency. While this sounds hopeful, it is possible, but only if the Democratic Party unites the current rift and focuses on the common problem. Instead, thanks to Brazile’s poorly timed article and book, the party is more divided than ever. Democrats are furious and the party is back where it was: wondering why it lost.
It is frustrating that the party cannot move forward and understand that the current civil war is not the biggest problem. Regardless of the factions in the party, regardless of the frustrating problems of the 2016 election, the party needs to move on. There are suggestions of new leadership, fresh faces and modern directions. Regardless of how the party fixes its internal problems, the ultimate problem is outside of the party. Brazile seemed to forget this and thanks to her new article and book, so will the factions in the Democratic party.