Thursday, July 28, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz under fire, rightly or wrongly

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
former head of the Democratic
National Committee (DNC)
Apparently the hubbub about Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, now the former head of the Democratic National Committee, has passed. The news died down in short order once the first night of the Democratic Convention commenced.

Unity may never truly occur between the Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters, which Wasserman Schultz is accused of slighting over support for the party's ultimate nominee, Hillary Clinton. Aside from the voters that flat out dislike Clinton, many of the Sanders' voters are young. They are feisty and want to dig in their heels. It appears that most of the Bernie or Bust folks are prepared to follow the lead of their mentor who suggested they switch their support to Hillary Clinton. The alternative, a Donald Trump administration is undesirable to most and a third party vote could dangerously result in a Trump victory.

None of the imperfections in the political system happened overnight. None of them will be solved overnight either.

What really ails the Democratic Party is years of apathy and inattention to politics. This lack of interest is partly responsible for the chaos that guides political parties today. The idea that new voters have awakened is a good thing, but political experience and/or knowledge of history is helpful when guiding decision making. It is helpful to fully understanding how things have been done and how they need to be done. There is never a need to reinvent the wheel.

Many of the young people excited by the notion of a political revolution, led by Sanders, are also members of the instant gratification generation. That kind of comfort just doesn’t bode well in the political arena where long, measured actions and reactions are the norm. Politics is about getting all the ducks in a row; it is about dealing with people, a difficult task because the Democratic Party consists of so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, with differing ideas, and independent thoughts. A political party deals not with just the candidates, but everyone else associated with elections, from the staff, volunteers, and voters. It takes finesse to get everyone on the same page.

There is little to indicate that Democratic Party Chairman Debbie
Wasserman Schultz did anything to require more than an apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Granted, her actions were an embarrassment, but that is only because Sanders was so once-in-a-lifetime successful. Had he been just another candidate, nothing would have come of this.

Wasserman Schultz was already ruffling feathers when just before the convention her emails were released by Wikileaks. They provided embarrassing evidence.

Who expects a personal email to fall into the wrong hands? Who expects their words to be read beyond the intended recipient? Anyone would be embarrassed. Who is to say how, and more importantly why, and by whom this information was leaked. That is another story for another time.

The DNC is being accused of slighting Sanders’ campaign. That may be, but they why is also important.

Consider the fact that Sanders has been an Independent candidate and only chose to run as a Democrat for this Presidential election. That proves a stark contrast with Clinton, who has been a staunch Democrat for most of her political career, spanning decades.

When she lost the Primary to Barack Obama in 2008, it was evident that she would seek the Presidency again. It was almost inevitable that she would run and win this time. Following the first black President, Hillary Clinton could become the first female President. It would be historic. The Democratic Party wanted that to happen, long before convention planning had commenced.

By contrast, Sanders campaign began when he announced his intentions. It was almost out of the blue. Few took him seriously at first.

It seemed early on that the primary would be just going through the motions. By the time Bernie and Martin O’Malley entered the race, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC were already geared up for a Clinton Presidency. In hindsight, a Clinton win was premature, but by then, the ducks were already lined up. There is probably not a single person, including Bernie himself that could have predicted the dynamics of this primary battle. Everyone was surprised at the country’s apparent distaste for politics as usual.

So, if Wasserman Schultz and the DNC are guilty of anything, it is bad timing, premature judgement, and the inability to stop a runaway train. They were ill-equipped to predict the success of the Sanders campaign. Once it was finally realized that Sanders was a real threat to Clinton's candidacy, the train was already barreling down the track and it was too late to flip the switch.

Politics is not a spontaneous sport. An election is a huge undertaking that requires cooperation, understanding, and generally being on top of every little detail. And there are lots and lots of details. It also requires people skills since there are so many individuals involved in races, staff, and volunteers all across the country.

As the DNC Chairman, Wasserman Schultz was charged with doing what was best for the Democratic Party, not just the presidential race, but the entire party, which includes a whole host of governors, state officials, as well as U.S. Congressional candidates. How could she have known early on that Bernie Sanders was going to “knock it out of the park” in terms of fundraising, support, and visual turn-out for rallies? Such a phenomenon is unprecedented!

Much of Sanders’ support came from young and enthusiastic first-time voters. Others are from the far left, progressive fringe of the Democratic party. Then there are the natural Hillary haters that have bought into the quarter-century of lies and innuendos told by Republicans in hope that something will stick.

Together, all those voices made up a pretty strong force.

Admittedly, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC should not have been biased against Sanders in favoring Clinton. But then when Trump became the GOP nominee, it became urgent to boost the candidacy of whomever Democratic Party presumed to be their best candidate. They had been burned before.

The DNC experienced a heated primary in 2000 when Ralph Nader took votes that could have boosted Al Gore's candidacy. Instead George W. Bush invariably won the tight race through the back-door with help from brother Jeb and his political cronies in Florida coupled with a GOP-laden Supreme Court. The justices took control of the election and handed it to Bush. In the back of their minds—the DNC—burnt badly in 2000, would guard against that ever happening again.

So on the eve of the convention of what might be the most important Presidential Election after all she has put into it, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced her resignation

Hillary Clinton has offered Wasserman Schultz an honorary position in her campaign, as chair of Clinton's 50-state strategy. This is not, as some are charging, a Quid-Pro-Quo. Instead it is an opportunity for Clinton to utilize the best and brightest talent for a job that needs doing. Wasserman Schultz has experience in politics and her help will likely be invaluable.

Like many, I’m personally disappointed in how this entire Bernie Sanders campaign issue has been handled. But it is time to learn from mistakes, get stronger, and move forward. I would like to see Sanders continue his efforts to coalesce like-minded folks, who one day can continue a real political revolution. That will take very hard work and long hours however, since nothing in politics or for that matter, anything of substance, happens overnight. I’m enthused to see this political movement grow. I’m excited to see Hillary Clinton prove to her adversaries that they have been wrong about her. I believe she can be a great President. And, I’m excited to finally see a woman occupy the White House.

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