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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it - George Santayana

68 democartic convention

Will DNC Repeat 1968's Mistakes?—Ernest Canning

The Democratic Party establishment appears poised to repeat the same mistakes that handed the White House to Richard Nixon in 1968.

The angry protest to the underhanded purge of Bernie Sanders delegates at the Nevada "Democratic" Convention should have served as an ominous warning. If party's elites follow-up their cynical manipulation of the nomination process with a decision to shut out the voices and democratic aspirations of millions via the exclusion of Sanders delegates from the Democratic National Convention's Committees, they will court disaster for the party and for our nation.


In 1968 the Democratic Party establishment, led by the authoritarian Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, rigged the nominating process at the Democratic National Convention.

In the run-up to the Convention, over 80% of Democratic primary voters sided with the two anti-war candidates, Sen. Robert Kennedy (D-NY), the victim of an assassination, and Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN). The will of the electorate was ignored by party elites. Daley's backroom maneuvers secured the nomination for a candidate who had not won a single primary—Vice President Humbert Humphrey.

Daley's authoritarian manipulation of the process produced chaos and violence both inside and outside of the convention. During a Convention speech, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT) denounced what he described as the "Gestapo tactics" of the Chicago PD—tactics that a federal commission later described as a "police riot" orchestrated by Daley. The violence and chaos inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, not to mention the betrayal of the anti-war sentiments of the electorate by the party establishment, led to the party's demise that November and six more years of carnage in Vietnam.

This time around the Democratic establishment's process manipulations preceded the primaries. Since her appointment as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a former co-chair of the Clinton 2008 campaign, has essentially transformed the ostensibly neutral DNC into an adjunct of the Clinton 2016 campaign.

Why Veterans For Bernie Endorsed Tim Canova

Last August, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), led by its authoritarian chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and the Clinton campaign initiated their effort to rig the nominating process via a joint fundraising effort known as “The Hillary Victory Fund.” That agreement, which ostensibly would provide funding for 33 state parties, was both designed to evade individual political contribution limits and to insure the support of super-delegates in those 33 states. To date, under the terms of The Hillary Victory Fund, “the state parties have served only as a pass-through for their share of the funds” to the DNC and Clinton campaigns.

Super-delegates, or what Salon's Ben Norton aptly described as the “unelected party nobility,” are the antithesis of the democratic aspirations of the Sanders-led political revolution. After the backroom deals that led to The Hillary Victory Fund agreement—and long before the first vote was cast in the Iowa Caucus — the Clinton campaign boasted that it had already secured 1/5 of the delegates needed to secure the nomination.

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Wasserman-Schultz has displayed a remarkable disdain for grassroots democracy. She defended the undemocratic super-delegate system that handed Clinton an equal number of Convention delegates in New Hampshire despite a Sanders 60 - 38 landslide by proclaiming they were needed to ensure that party elites should not have to run "against grassroots activists." In conjunction with a corporate owned mainstream media that has done its level best to either distort or blackout the Sanders message altogether, she has done her level best to tilt the playing field by severely constricting the timing and number of Democratic Debates.

Worse, according to Bill Moyers, Wasserman Schultz has perversely turned the DNC into an instrument of the ruling class by opening "the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence." She's even "aligned herself with corporate interests out to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s effort to create national standards for the payday-lending industry."

Aristocratic arrogance

The one common thread that links the Mayor Daley of 1968 with Debbie Wasserman Shultz, Hillary Clinton and the bulk of today's Democratic Party elites can be in their shared form of aristocratic arrogance. They are comfortable in deploying undemocratic means to preserve their positions of wealth and power. They appear to share a perverse sense of entitlement. They see the great masses who make up the American electorate as undeserving peasants who can be easily manipulated via lip service to the language of the Sanders-led revolution even as they close the door to meaningful democratic reforms via a rigged Democratic National Convention in which key committees are headed by and exclusively made up of Clinton delegates.

While it is not too late for the party elites to accept Bernie Sanders's call for the DNC to "open the doors, let the people in" (see video below), events at and after the Nevada Democratic Convention suggests that these arrogant Democratic Party elites believe that the mere fact that Donald Trump portends to America's descent into fascism is enough to ensure a Democratic Party victory in November. (Recent Clinton v. Trump general election polls ominously suggest otherwise).

For the party elites, it wasn't enough that their previous rigging of the process has all but mathematically assured a Clinton nomination. As part of their arrogant zeal to ensure that Clinton received a narrow majority of Nevada's pledged delegates, they changed party rules in the middle of the process so as to erase the results of the second stage of the Nevada caucus. Even though Sanders, a life-long devotee to Dr. Martin Luther King's principles of non-violent civil disobedience, unequivocally condemned "any and all forms," an arrogant and utterly dishonest Wasserman Schultz seized the occasion to unfairly falsely allege that Bernie had failed to adequately condemn violence -- this while she and the media ignore violence directed against the Sanders campaign.

NVDC1The picture that the party elites foolishly sought to erect of violent Sanders supporters stands in marked contrast to the comparative photos that were set forth in a picture tweet by Tyson Manker, a former combat marine and the national director of Veterans for Bernie. Both photos depict the presence of armed police at the front of political rallies, one in Nazi Germany and the other at the Nevada Democratic Convention. Manker wrote: "The day democracy died."

Ominous intransigence

The last thing the Democratic Party needs is a repetition of the bitter and violent confrontations that ensued in the wake of the undemocratic maneuvers that led to the Humphrey nomination.

Yet, everything we've seen suggests that today's Democratic Party elites have failed to heed the lessons of 1968.

Concerned only with preserving the status quo power structure, an intransigent Wasserman Schultz refuses recognize the need open up the Convention so as to at least offer the prospect of genuine democratic reforms. She has failed to understand that there is no automatic right to party unity -- especially where so many who participated in the Democratic primaries are registered as Independents. And she has failed to appreciate that the last thing the Democratic Party needs is a general election campaign marred by the media's focus on the intra-party strife that is likely to occur both inside and outside the Convention if the party elites continue to demean the very people whose votes are essential to electoral success.

Ernest Canning