Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution (the advocacy group formed by Bernie Sanders), used some words to describe the Democratic National Committee, as Buzzfeed first reported: “Dictatorial.” “Arrogant.” “Pompous.” “Superficial.” “Tone-deaf.” “Tone-dead.” “Out of line.” “Insulting” — “absolutely insulting.”
What brought that on? Turner and a group of supporters went to the DNC headquarters in Washington to deliver petitions in support of the “People’s Platform” in response to the Democratic announcement of their plan for “A Better Deal.” The group was met by barricades as well as donuts and water that had been prepared for them by DNC staff as a token of goodwill. The barricades were protocol set up by the building’s security team, not party officials. Here are some of the sentences in which Turner used those words cited up above:
“I was absolutely stunned,” Turner said Tuesday. “For them to be that tone-deaf, or that arrogant, to think that it’s OK to put up a barricade so that the people can’t even — I mean, we were not even good enough to stand on their stairs.”..
“They tried to seduce us with donuts and water,” she said. “They’re pompous and arrogant enough to say to the people, you’re not good enough to be on our property — and, oh by the way, we’re just gonna hand you donuts and water over the barricade. That is insulting. Absolutely insulting.”
In other words, it was all more of a childish temper tantrum than a thoughtful political message.
As a result of that little outburst from Turner, the media isn’t writing about what’s included in the People’s Platform as compared to the Democrat’s Better Deal. It’s all about yet another heated exchange from Sanders supporters directed at the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who benefits from that: Republicans. Karl Rove noticed and is eagerly pointing out the rift.
I thought it would be helpful to do what Turner failed to do—compare and contrast the two agendas. The People’s Platform includes eight items. Here they are, with notations of similar proposals in A Better Deal:
1. Medicare for all –> Lower cost of prescription drugs
2. Free college tuition –> Lower cost of college and technical education
3. Worker’s rights ($15 minimum wage) –> Living wage minimum at $15/hr
4. Women’s rights (access to abortion) –> Not explicitly listed
5. Voting rights –> Not explicitly listed
6 Environmental justice –> Not explicitly listed
7. Criminal justice reform and immigrant rights –> Not explicitly listed
8. Taxing Wall Street –> Crack down on monopolies and end tax breaks for outsourcers
What we can see from this list is that it is actually the Democrats who haven’t included items like women’s rights, voting rights, criminal justice reform and environmental justice in their Better Deal. While the vast majority of Democrats support those issues, it is interesting to note that they were not included.
On the other hand, here are the items included in the Democrat’s agenda, but not mentioned in the People’s Platform:
1. Infrastructure investment
2. A proposal on how to improve trade agreements
3. Paid family and sick leave
4. Tax credit for employers that hire and train workers
5. Expanded apprenticeship programs
6. High speed internet to every corner of America
There are two conclusions I reach when comparing these lists. The first is that if you add them together rather than pit them against each other, you’d have a pretty comprehensive list. The second is that the biggest areas of disagreement between these two groups are probably going to be on what to do to reach universal health care access (i.e. single payer vs building on Obamacare), advocating for free college or reducing the cost of a broader spectrum of options, and whether or not to focus on Wall Street specifically (i.e., tax Wall Street) or major corporations in general (i.e. anti-trust enforcement).
Based on what happened this week, I’d also conclude that Nina Turner just made a huge error in how she decided to handle this (non)confrontation with the DNC. Apparently she’s fundraising for Our Revolution based on what happened. So to the extent that those who are already supportive have disposable dollars, that will benefit the organization. But in return she gave the Republicans ammunition and failed to inform anyone about the actual issues. If that is the kind of leadership she provides, it is not hard to imagine that Our Revolution will eventually fail rather spectacularly.