Clinton Has a Wildfire on Her Hands

I don’t have the time or the inclination to sort out all the he said/she said allegations for what went down at the Nevada Democrats’ state convention over the weekend. You can read a Sanders supporter’s version here. You can get another perspective from Nevada reporter Jon Ralston who I respect from what I’ve seen of his body of work.

I might be more interested in sorting it all out if I thought it actually mattered, but the whole brouhaha was over control of a handful of delegates to the Philadelphia convention, and even if the Sanders folks had prevailed it wouldn’t have changed a damn thing.

That said, it’s not a good sign for Democratic Party unity that the Sanders camp came way absolutely incensed by their treatment. And it’s appalling that someone is issuing death threats to Nevada Democratic Party chair Roberta Lange. As Melissa McEwan put it:

So, Sanders supporters shut down the convention by shouting at Senator Barbara Boxer, throwing chairs, and generally behaving like a mob of reckless dipshits, then spend days harassing and threatening a Democratic state chair, and Sanders’ spokesperson scolds the Democratic Party that they should be more welcoming to them?!

That’s a Clinton supporter’s view of what happened.

Like I said, I don’t really care a whole lot about the details. Were Robert’s Rules of Order observed? Were 64 Sanders delegates unjustly decertified? I’ll leave the debate about that for others.

What I think people should be focused on, and by “people” I mean the folks at the top of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, is how to mend some fences and get this craziness under control. Precisely because Clinton has this thing wrapped up, she doesn’t need to resort to procedural hardball to squeeze every last delegate out of the process. She needs the votes of Sanders voters in the fall more than she needs a couple more delegates out of Nevada or a disproportionate number of seats on the power committees at the convention.

And Sanders needs to inject some realism into this process. His supporters are fighting like hell for him, which is good. But they seem to think the stakes are still for the nomination. If they’re so riled up about a small handful of delegates that some of them are hurling chairs, shouting down senators, and issuing death threats, they need to hear from Sanders that all that nonsense isn’t going to accomplish anything and it needs to stop.

I don’t think bad behavior should be rewarded on any side here, but Clinton’s in a better position to be magnanimous, and it’s in her best interests, too. She should talk to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, about making some of the concessions Sanders called for in his May 6th letter to the DNC. In particular, she should do something about this:

That was why I was so disappointed to learn that of the over forty people our campaign submitted at your request you chose to select only three of my recommendations for the three standing committees. Moreover, you did not assign even one of the people submitted by our campaign to the very important Rules Committee of the Democratic National Convention…

…In our conversation, you told me with respect to the platform Drafting Committee that you would consider allowing each campaign to submit ten names from which you would choose four from each and then you would add an additional seven. While having four members on the Drafting Committee is an improvement, it does not address the fact that up to this point Bernie 2016 has secured some 45% of the pledged delegates awarded. Frankly, we believe that percentage will go up in the coming weeks and, of course, we hope it will end up being a majority.

I believe that each campaign should chose seven members to serve on the Drafting Committee. The fifteenth member would be a chair who would be jointly picked by the two campaigns.

Sanders is also angered that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and former Congressman Barney Frank will be chairing the convention Platform Committee and Rules Committee, respectively, because they’ve both been loud critics of his campaign. That’s the cost of losing, but that doesn’t mean that some concessions can’t be made to give Sanders’s delegates fair representation at the convention.

It’s a small price to pay for tamping down what could emerge as a wildfire with the potential to disrupt the convention, and it has the advantage of being the right thing to do.

If Clinton doesn’t get the party united (and, of course Sanders has to do his part, too), her unfavorables will remain high and the polls will continue to look somewhat close as too many Democrats refuse to tell pollsters that they like or will support her.

If she offers an olive branch here, she will be the main beneficiary, and so will everyone who isn’t relishing a Trump presidency.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.