#15: The Party Decides

 

Is the Democratic National Committee intentionally sidelining Bernie Sanders to prevent him from winning the Democratic nomination?

Or to put it more bluntly: Is the DNC in the tank for Hillary Clinton?

That question has been bouncing around for a while. It popped up over the summer when the DNC announced there would be only six officially sanctioned debates, which means a challenger like Bernie has relatively few opportunities to introduce himself to a national TV audience.

And the timing of the debates has been an issue too. For instance, the third debate was last Saturday — a weekend night, only six days before Christmas. To no one’s surprise, it was the least watched debate of the 2016 election cycle.

Questions about the DNC putting its finger on the scale for Hillary Clinton popped up again last week, when someone leaked a story about the security breach of the DNC’s voter database. Now, I don’t want to rehash all the details of that episode here, but I do want to share a tweet from Jim Webb, who until recently was running for the Democratic nomination. When Webb learned that the Sanders campaign had filed a lawsuit against the DNC over how it had handled the security breach, he tweeted: “Good for Bernie. The DNC is nothing more than an arm for the Clinton campaign.”

There are lots of questions about the DNC that I can’t answer. Questions like: Who at the DNC created the debate schedule? What does it mean for a voter like me to be a member of the DNC? And how can a DNC member influence the actions of the organization which claims to represent me and my party? 

To find out, I contacted Luis Miranda, the Communications Director of the Democratic National Committee. Back in October, I sent Luis a message on Twitter in which I introduced myself and this podcast. I included a link to this site, so he could see that Searching for Bernie is a podcast produced by a Bernie supporter (me). Luis responded within hours, and suggested I contact the DNC Press Office to set up an interview. 

And so began my adventure — six weeks of seemingly endless exchanges with various DNC Press officials who were rather... well, let’s just say it didn’t end on a happy note.

After banging my head on the front door of the DNC for six weeks, I called up Hans Noel. He’s an associate professor in the Government department at Georgetown University, and the co-author of The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform. Professor Noel does an excellent job of explaining why so many Democratic voters feel disenfranchised by the national organization that (allegedly) represents them: