The data breach was by most standards a relatively minor happening that would have simply had a reaction limited to political insiders, data nerds and political press – had the DNC not bungled it so badly from a public relations standpoint. The DNC’s action inflamed non-political people who are backing Bernie Sanders and tend to see political parties as cartels that do not believe in the normal processes of Democracy.
Whether or not this is fair, a large segment of voters the party depends on feels the deck is stacked against the candidates they favor like Senator Sanders who articulate the views they live by. These are what I call “movement progressives.” They are motivated by issues particularly economic ones and are not comfortable with the Wall Street ties of the Obama Administration and the Clinton campaign.
Those connected closely to politics support Secretary Clinton, like they did her husband because of the political benefit – Democratic administration and the potential for patronage jobs or consulting contracts.
While having actual skin in the game is something Democratic operatives have pointed to in the past as to why they should be deferred to about decisions related to party nominations (those who work in politics and study numbers know better than the heathens who have given us bad nominees time and again is an implication made) as to why progressives need to stay home and support Democrats.
Political types like to use fear to motivate the Democratic base. Paraphrasing here but basically they say “If you don’t support this Democrat, you’ll get a much worse Republican who is a racist that will destroy reproductive rights, push religion, hand everyone guns and ban minorities from advancing in our society before deporting anyone with a foreign sounding name.” These fear tactics have long worked as movement progressives felt they needed to play defense and support the lesser of two evils. Closing ranks eventually happens as a worse alternative looms, and the Democratic establishment knows that. However now many progressives are reaching a wits end, meaning the trick may not work this year for the party.
Democrats are currently at the party’s lowest point using Congressional representation and State legislators as a metric in terms of an overall percentage, since before the Great Depression. A feeling has permeated movement progressives, particularly those not actively involved in politics/political campaigns but more into causes (who watch MSNBC, read the Daily Kos and of course now support Bernie Sanders) that they have been asked to walk the plank one too many times backing establishment candidates who then lost general elections.
The breaking point came in 2014 when the party determined that protecting marginal Senators in red states meant no immigration reform and precious little else in progressive ideas pushed by the Democrats prior to the midterms. The result? All of the Senators who the Democrats sought to protect by pushing moderation were beaten badly.
Now the DNC’s attitude towards the Sanders campaign, be it with limiting debates or the handling of this data breach have sent movement progressives into a tizzy. A feeling that the deck is always stacked against progressives within the Democratic Party has taken root and this might become difficult to debunk in some minds during the current cycle.
Further complicating things is the unwillingness on the surface for Democrats to embrace the #blacklivesmatter movement, a sign to many that the party is still ultra-cautious when it comes to aggressive cause-based movements.
I am hearing more assured views from progressives I talk then in previous cycles that they’ll vote third party or not vote for President at all if Clinton is nominated. Many have come to the conclusion that after the Obama years which have branded as” socialist ” by conservatives who appeal to low-information voters, but to movement progressives have represented a continuation of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s policies toward Wall Street, that backing another Democrat with ties to big business is just not worth it.
No doubt the party, and well-paid political operatives (backed by those who seek to be well-paid operatives or to attain some “status” in the party) will spread fear that if you don’t support the Democratic nominee, your putting a sexist, racist, corporate shill into office. But that sort of fear factor has run its course with many progressives, and the Democrats will need to do some work to mend fences with those who are truly cause-driven in 2016.