Answer: Not much at all, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows it. When Chris Matthews attempted to press the DNC chair on whether Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, would get a high-profile speaking slot at the Democratic convention even if he loses the nomination, Wasserman Schultz stammered out an affirmative, which amazed Matthews and prompted him to ask Wasserman Schultz if she saw any significant difference between Democrats and Socialists. Wasserman Schultz tried to duck the question, but provided a very telling answer by doing so (via Newsalert and Mediaite):
Matthews asked Wasserman-Schultz if, even if he loses, Sanders would have a place at the DNC convention, seeing as how he’s really popular with the base and could fire up a Democratic audience before the election.
She said he should get to speak, but Matthews kept prodding away to see if he would be allowed to speak in primetime instead of “when nobody’s watching.”
Wasserman-Schultz talked up his “progressive populist message” that people like, when Matthews asked her point-blank, “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? I used to think there was a big difference. What do you think it is?”
Wasserman-Schultz ducked the question, but Matthews pressed her and said, “You’re the chairman of the Democratic Party. Tell me what’s the difference between you and a socialist.”
Instead of answering, Wasserman Schutlz tells Matthews that there’s a much bigger gulf between Democrats and Republicans than Democrats and Socialists. And that was precisely Matthews’ point. He’s an old-school Democrat, certainly more sympathetic than hostile to Sanders’ socialist bent, but cognizant of the marginalization that will produce in the general electorate. Embracing the avowed socialist Sanders on the Democrats’ biggest national stage will make it impossible for the nominee to argue that Democrats represent the center of the country. It will lose the Midwest, the Rust Belt, and any hope of making inroads in the interior West and especially the South.
Matthews sounds downright plaintive when he says, “I used to think there was a big difference” between Democrats and Socialists. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, because the difference has been narrowing rapidly over the past generation, and has all but disappeared in the past six years. Its disappearance has been so profound that even the DNC chair can’t pick up on the warning Matthews attempted to sound in this exchange, and instead brags about how much distance the Democrats have put from Republicans in their radical shift to the Left. For once, though … she’s entirely correct.