We may still be in the midst of the midterm season, but the DNC is looking ahead to 2020 and their bid to unseat President Trump. On Friday, rather than trying to attract candidates for the task, DNC Chair Tom Perez seemed to be more interested in keeping somebody out. The “somebody” in question would be Bernie Sanders, who many observers still believe may be eyeing another grab at the brass ring. A new rule adopted yesterday seeks to enforce a sort of purity test for Dem candidates, forcing them to sign a pledge to not only be a member of the party but to run and serve as a Democrat. (Fox News)
The Democratic National Committee adopted a new rule Friday aimed at preventing non-Democrats, such as independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, from seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, reports said.
The rule change, adopted at a DNC meeting in Providence, R.I., requires all candidates for the party’s nomination to “run and serve” as Democrats, Yahoo News reported.
Some supporters of Sanders — who caucuses with the Democrats despite declining to declare a party affiliation — say the move was motivated by “spite” after Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money during the Democratic primaries in 2016.
But a source told Yahoo News it was actually part of a push to limit the power of so-called superdelegates — which, ironically, has long been a goal of Sanders.’
The claim by the Democratic National Committee that the rule is actually aimed at reducing the number of superdelegates they deploy doesn’t make any sense. There is a separate rule being considered which would prevent the superdelegates from voting unless their convention fails to pick a nominee on the first ballot. That might be better than nothing, but not a lot. Enough clever wrangling by the delegates in back-room meetings could easily tie up the first ballot, leaving the superdelegates free to charge in on the second round and push the national party’s preferred person over the finish line.
How does that in any way relate to making candidates sign what boils down to a party loyalty pledge? The two seem completely unrelated.
A better question at this point would be to ask how they plan to enforce this rule. Sanders is notorious for insisting that he’s not actually a Democrat, but rather a Democratic Socialist. In 2016 he reluctantly signed on with the Dems but abandoned them as soon as he lost the nomination to Hillary. Let’s just toss reality out the window for a moment and imagine a hypothetical picture of 2020 where Sanders not only runs again but secures the nomination and defeats Trump, becoming America’s first socialist president. Sure, he signed a pledge, but it has no legal weight to it. He could once again quit the party immediately after the election if he so desired.
What would the DNC do at that point, shortly after securing the electoral victory they were so desperate for? Are they going to challenge their own president-elect in court? Will they try to force him out of office? Throw their support to Trump and try to impeach Sanders? Obviously not. They would embrace Sanders and write off his decision as inconsequential, pledging to work with him to press the Democratic agenda forward. And in 2024, assuming Sanders was still up for another run, they would have to repeal their new rule because they’re not going to primary him or try to deny him the Democrats’ slot on the ballot.
Generally, it’s the Republicans who wind up fighting over how and where they should expand the tent. The Democrats are getting themselves into the same sort of trouble with this bit of showboating. Neither party can win a national election these days without attracting the independents and third-party supporters. Being angry at Bernie for taking a run at Hillary is no excuse for this sort of maneuvering.