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The anti­democratic Democratic Party

During the presidential nominating battles, I could never quite understand the political reporters who were skeptical that the Democratic organization was hostile toward candidate Bernie Sanders. Long before the emails proved it, it was clear at every level, including in Nevada. The smell of partiality was in county headquarters and in the conduct of the local and national leadership.

How did the party show its favoritism toward Clinton? Limited debates, unelected delegates who jumped the gun on committing themselves, rules that favored some candidates over others, retaliation against Sanders supporters, and local variations. The party leaders seemed convinced that, as in 2008, Hillary Clinton could not win on a level playing field.

Early on, party national chair (and 2008 Clinton campaign co­chair) Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to limit the number of debates among the candidates. It would have served the needs of only one candidate – Hillary Clinton – but not of the voters, few of whom knew who her opponents were. “This is totally unprecedented in our party’s history,” said candidate Martin O’Malley, former Maryland governor. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before.” Only embarrassment forced Wasserman Schultz to increase the number of debates.

And what is the national committee doing controlling debates, anyway? The DNC didn’t decide whether Gene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy debated in California in 1968.

Why? Because no one trusted Democratic national chair John Bailey, who was helping Hubert Humphrey instead of staying neutral.

When Sanders supporter and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard caught grief from party leaders, she stepped down as vice chair of the DNC. But Clinton supporter Donna Brazile, also a vice chair of the DNC, did not – and no one gave HER grief. Clinton supporters received more favorable treatment.

Even after the emails disclosed the DNC’s behavior and Wasserman Schultz stepped down, the DNC didn’t miss a step, continuing to retaliate against Sanders supporters even as the Clinton campaign was trying to win over Sanders supporters (bad communication, there). And those Sanders supporters were not just upset about the emails that showed favoritism in the presidential race. There were also the emails that showed the DNC was funding its operations by pampering and pandering to the rich and powerful who Sanders and his supporters wanted to force to pay their taxes in full.

There were the rules that sought to put challengers out of the race, as in Wyoming where defeating Clinton 56 to 44 percent got Sanders a net loss! “They never write the rules in such a way to help challengers,” O’Malley said, and that’s exactly what a national committee that genuinely aspires to the role of an impartial arbiter will write.

And where the DNC’s activities didn’t hurt, the hostility of local Democratic organizations did. At the Nevada Democratic Convention, roll call votes were prohibited and the convention chair was the sole judge of the outcome of voice votes. It was unlike every impartial set of parliamentary rules in existence that provide for ways to RELIABLY determine outcomes of voice votes that are challenged, such as roll call votes. MSNBC host Cenk Uygur said of Roberta Lange, the convention chair, that the delegates “didn’t tell you to take voice votes that you then ignored.”

Reporters are now convinced by the emails that Democratic officials were partial, so as a continuing gesture of being oriented to power, those reporters are now saying that the partiality did not change the outcome of the race. We’ll never know, but what does it matter? The issue is whether the process is being run professionally and fairly, not what the end result of the process is.

During the Watergate affair, Democrats were outraged to learn that the Nixon campaign used its resources to try to tamper with the 1972 presidential election.

Democratic leaders learned from that experience, apparently, because they did a good deal of tampering with this year’s nomination race.

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