The Democratic Party failed by ignoring Sanders delegates

Dec 1, 2016

By Jeanne Dauray, Laura Sabransky and Elizabeth Braun Wilke, Contributors

If Chicago Cubs Manager Joseph Maddon had ignored batter versus pitcher matchups to the extent the Democratic Party dismissed the candidate who had a better chance of winning against Donald Trump, the Cubs would still be “lovable losers” instead of World Series Champions.

Ever since President-elect Donald Trump’s resounding victory, Democratic National Committee elites and party loyalists have been in shock, scratching their heads as to how they could have been so wrong. They have mostly concluded that sexism, racism and nationalism motivated Trump voters.

As women involved in politics, we have been and remain concerned with the violence and hatred that the President-elect has displayed and encouraged among his followers.

Campaign volunteers for Bernie Sanders spoke to many conservative voters who decried Trump’s vitriol and were hesitant to vote for him, yet many ultimately did.

We were among Sanders’ 1,900 delegates who are largely grassroots, not political insiders, like many in Hillary Clinton’s leadership. Yet we are no strangers to interpreting the political landscape and were among those who sounded the alarm about Clinton’s predictable loss.

We will explain how Clinton and the Democratic Party lost this pivotal election.

The Democratic Party has forgotten that elections are games of addition. Democrats have been writing off prospective voters from many segments of society for decades, while concocting false narratives about who they expect to be their natural constituency.

Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” remark was not offhanded. It was representative of the arrogance of her campaign and the party that did virtually no outreach to Bernie’s 14 million voters after the Democratic National Convention.

Trump tweeted numerous times to Bernie’s supporters, but the only tweet we saw from Clinton was one to thank us.

U.S. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that for every one of Bernie’s voters lost, they would be replaced by two moderate Republicans.

However, for years, we have seen the Democratic faithful call Republican and Independent rural dwellers “low information” voters, therefore undeserving of Democrats’ attention.

How will they lure them now?

First, the Democratic Party expected virtually all women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, followers of Islam, immigrants and the LGBTQ community to vote for Clinton, thus allowing the party to write off millions of other working class voters.

Then the party expected ignored and uninspired Democratic-leaning and Independent voters to come out and support the party, to the point of not campaigning in states where Republican votes were much higher during the primary, like Wisconsin.

The party’s strategy smacks of arrogance. When politicians ignore what we tell them and then act like they don’t need us to succeed, the results speak for themselves.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have been infiltrating depressed communities for decades, while the Democrats have wholesale abandoned them.

Less than a third of Americans are confident in key institutions such as the media, banks and organized religion. Those numbers have been decreasing for a decade.

Congress’ approval rating in the past several years has hit historic lows.

Against this virulent anti-establishment backdrop, the Democratic Party chose to run the most disliked establishment candidate in modern history against Trump, who criticized some of the same institutions voters disdain.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) deluded the party’s faithful into believing that this was “her time” to break the glass ceiling and that because Trump’s rhetoric was so divisive, violent and traumatizing, Clinton could simply leap over the significant hurdles of gender, her own personal image and all of the baggage that accompanies her and her husband.

We met working class voters while campaigning for Sanders. Many of us were these voters. A lot of Republican and Independent voters told us they would vote for Sanders if he were in the general election, but they would not vote for another Clinton.

President Obama campaigned in 2008 on renegotiating the Clinton administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But Obama didn’t renegotiate NAFTA. Instead he and Clinton pushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Sanders and Trump made opposing the TPP a signature campaign promise.

Hillary Clinton helped her husband craft the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which plunged many families already living on the edge into poverty. Labor leaders endorsed Clinton, while barely half of union households voted for her in the general election.

In the Democratic primary, Sanders won rust belt states like Michigan and Wisconsin. In the general election, it was easy for us to predict Trump would win those states.

“Make America Great Again” doesn’t mean slavery, racism or sexism to lots of voters who ended up taking a chance with Trump. It means good manufacturing jobs and job security. When Democrats are selling hats that say “America is Already Great,” it shows how out of touch they are with average Americans.

The Democratic Party claims the moral high ground when it comes to voter suppression and election rigging, but somehow these problems were no longer issues to the Clinton campaign as we marched through the primaries. An argument can be made that Bill Clinton violated election law by blocking voters’ access to the polls in Massachusetts without so much as a slap on the wrist.

A multitude of states saw evidence of voter registration tampering, missing voter registrations, missing voter books, students being threatened with arrest if they did not leave polling places, voters being denied ballots or being told there were no more ballots, polling places that opened late and many other irregularities, according to an Elections Justice USA report.

Still, as one Democratic state senator and Clinton delegate from Illinois said at the Democratic National Convention, “The losers always say that.”

This type of hypocritical behavior and willful ignorance contributed to the belief that the Democrats were increasingly becoming a party of the elites who would not listen to the populists and who cheat them out of their voice at the polls.

The Democratic Party needs to listen to voters and non-voters if it wants to begin the long, hard road of self-examination and redemption.

Jeanne Dauray is a member of the Democratic Party Credentials Committee. Laura Sabransky and Elizabeth Braun Wilke are Illinois delegates for Bernie Sanders.

Link to Original article on The HIll

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