Far too many progressives discuss changing the Democratic Party from the inside. It is the central effort of many members of Our Revolution (a group of Bernie Sanders supporters), Democracy Spring, and other activist groups. There is the belief that electing more progressive candidates as Democrats, and putting widespread pressure on incumbents, will force the party to move to the left. Unfortunately, we have been there, tried that, and had our hearts broken.
Bernie Sanders’ entire presidential primary campaign was based on changing the Democratic Party from within. He wanted the party to stop using Super-PAC funds. He asked for it to implement a single-payer healthcare system. He demanded that climate change be a central issue, demanding immediate action. It is exactly because of those issues, and his desire to permanently alter the Democratic Party, that he was crushed by the DNC.
We all know from leaked emails that there was a sophisticated campaign against him from the beginning. Anyone who endorsed, or even considered endorsing, Bernie Sanders was punished or bribed. Nina Turner was not permitted to speak at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Zephyr Teachout, a Berniecrat congressional candidate in New York, was given fundraising assistance from Wall Street-funded Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Soon after, Teachout endorsed Hillary Clinton.
Then there are the suspect election results in a number of states, most notably Arizona and California. Vote counts were not even close to the exit poll results; Arizona was off by more than 30 points. If that had happened in a foreign nation, the State Department would have accused the government of massive fraud and possibly ended aid shipments until a truly fair election had been held. California’s exit polls were cancelled after forewarning of a lawsuit aimed at collecting all voting data. Why would the exit polls be cancelled if there was going to be nothing wrong with the “official” vote counts? We now know that Bernie won some counties by as much as 7 points, when they were officially called for Clinton. Regardless of any other factors, the election theft determined that Bernie Sanders was never going to win the nomination.
Other progressives have been dealt similar blows by the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders supporter and Florida congressman Alan Grayson was handed a heavy defeat (59%-18%) in his senate primary against forgettable moderate, Patrick Murphy. The DNC actively campaigned against him and made attempts to not only ruin his senatorial hopes but his entire political career. Tim Canova, a Berniecrat who dared challenge Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was also handed a devastating defeat. His only firm support came from non-establishment figures, like those now working for Our Revolution. The Democrats worked hard for a corrupt, unethical party stalwart instead of a rising progressive. There was scant hope for Canova ever winning that election.
Progressive Democrats might have the impact people are hoping for, if they were ever allowed to get into office or keep their jobs. Sadly, there is no reason to believe that will ever happen.