The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has a well-documented history of attempting to manipulate voters by “rigging” the Democrat primary field in favor of its desired candidates.
This occured in 2016, and many Democrats, including former and current Democrat candidates, fear it is happening again.
The unsaid war between grassroots supporters of certain Democrat candidates – such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Andrew Yang (D), and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) – and the Democrat establishment and media materialized on Tuesday after the DNC-sanctioned debate, moderated by CNN, clearly propped up Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the expense of Sanders.
At one point, the moderators asked Sanders to explain how he would keep his costly proposals from bankrupting the nation. The same was not asked of Warren, who has released similar proposals that could rival Sanders’ in terms of cost. The outlet’s position became even clearer after framing the claim — that Sanders told Warren a woman could not win the presidency — as indisputable fact, despite Sanders’ vehement denial.
The obvious bias triggered flashbacks to 2016, the year the DNC, along with Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the establishment media, essentially rigged the primary, quashing Sanders’ chances of becoming the Democrat nominee despite his tremendous grassroots support.
Former interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile wrote in her book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House:
If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.
However, she later said there was no evidence that the DNC “rigged” the outcome, despite her previous assertions.
Even Warren acknowledged the bias in 2017, although she backtracked days later.
Warren said at the time:
When … Tom Perez was first elected chair of the DNC, the very first conversation I had with him [was] to say, you have got to put together a Democratic party in which everybody can have confidence that the party is working for Democrats, rather than Democrats are working for the party.
“And he’s being tested now,” she added.
“Very quickly, senator, do you agree with the notion that it was rigged?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked.
“Yes,” Warren stated definitively:
Elizabeth Warren says she agrees with the notion that the 2016 Democratic nomination was rigged in Clinton's favor https://t.co/Z6KpCGJj4Q
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 2, 2017
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) November 2, 2017
While Warren has remained mum on the prospect of the DNC, Democrat establishment, and media acting similarly in favor of her presidential campaign, several former and current candidates have taken issue with the DNC and questioned the committee’s play.
Many of the early complaints stemmed from the DNC’s controversial debate requirements, which increasingly kept more and more candidates off the debate stage, resulting in just six white candidates participating in Tuesday’s debate.
“If the DNC had followed the process they announced in February and kept to the promised 17 [sic] qualifying polls, the lineup of the upcoming third debate might be very different,” Williamson’s communications director Patricia Ewing said in August.
The DNC’s increased requirements led Gabbard to request the DNC “revise their list of debate qualifying polls in light of numerous irregularities in the selection and timing of those polls, to ensure transparency and fairness.”
Presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) took the criticisms a step further, telling DNC delegates in August that the party was “stifling debate at a time when we need it most … rewarding celebrity candidates with Twitter followers.”
Even former presidential hopeful Julián Castro (D), who has since endorsed Warren, suggested that the DNC was subtly attempting to manipulate voters in Iowa by changing the debate requirements.
“I did not expect the DNC to raise the thresholds so close to the Iowa caucus, because when you get that close to the caucus, shouldn’t you just let the people vote?” Castro said in December, according to Politico.
“You’re already within a couple months. Just let the folks vote,” he continued. “A lot of people out there feel that way.”
While Yang did not initially take issue with the DNC’s requirements earlier in the race, that ended after he missed the polling threshold for the latest debate, leading his campaign to blast the DNC and accuse it of dropping the ball and running the “same play in 2016.”
“If the DNC had only done their due diligence and commissioned polls in the early states, Andrew Yang would certainly be on the debate stage next week,” Yang campaign chief Nick Ryan said in an email to supporters.
“We are not going to allow the DNC to dictate who they wish to see as the nominee and deny the will of the people,” Ryan continued.
“The issues that will decide this election, and the future of our country, are too important to ignore for the sake of staged political bickering. The DNC tried to run this same play in 2016 and they paid for it with a loss in the general,” he added.
Prior to dropping out of the race, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) ripped DNC leaders, accusing them of attempting to manipulate Iowa voters.
“It’s kind of ridiculous that these are the measures we’re putting up,” Booker said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Instead of Iowans choosing, they’re being dictated to by Washington, D.C. DNC leaders.”
The latest debate also inspired Gabbard to renew her critiques against both the DNC and “biased corporate media”:
— Tulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) January 15, 2020
Despite mounting criticisms, the DNC has defended its role and positions.
“This has been the most inclusive debate process with more women and candidates of color participating in more debates than billionaires,” DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told Politico in December.
“While we are legally required to have objective criteria for each debate, our qualifying criteria has stayed extremely low throughout this entire process,” Hinojosa added.
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has long battled with both the DNC and media, accusing the latter of finding him “annoying” over the summer.
Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in July:
This isn’t intended to be a sweeping generalization of all journalists, but there are a healthy number who just find Bernie annoying, discount his seriousness, and wish his supporters and movement would just go away.
Tuesday’s debate, which showcased CNN’s demonstrative bias against Sanders, sparked a renewed focus on the ongoing concerns within the Democrat Party and DNC which, in some cases, have largely flown under the radar throughout the course of the Democrat primary process thus far.
While many Democrats, including Sanders’ wife Jane, are calling for unity moving forward, the DNC faces an uphill battle in uniting left-wing voters, many of whom remember 2016 far too well.