DNC Chair Tom Perez is stacking party committees to sideline Sanders and to push a corporate agenda that kills progressive ideas and campaigns.


Story Transcript

This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.

Marc Steiner: Welcome to Real News. I’m Marc Steiner. According to the polls, Bernie Sanders is in the lead in Iowa and some national polling as well. The Democratic establishment is clearly on the edge and nervous about Sander’s potential to win this domination. So, DNC chair Tom Perez is doing the official majority work, to circumvent any chance that either Sanders could get the nomination or the progressives will have a significant voice in the DNC or at the convention itself. This week as our guest Kevin Gosztola pointed out on Twitter and later in a piece for Grayzone, the DNC chair Tom Perez nominated members to the DNC platform committee that were against progressive agenda that either Warren or Sanders supports.

When Perez defeating Keith Ellison for the chair of the DNC, he began purging progressives from committees. Clearly the internal war among Democrats is heating up. Could all this lead to Trump being given another four years? Could the Democrats defeat themselves? Neo-liberals and progressives taking aim at one another while the right wing surrounding Trump laughs all the way. We’re joined now by the man who broke the story on Twitter about Perez packing the DNC platform committee and once again joins us here, Real News. Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shatterproof.com and cohost of the podcast Unauthorized DIs. DIs, do I have that right?

Kevin Gosztola: It’s Unauthorized Disclosure.

Marc Steiner: Disclosure. Great. That’s what I have for DIS period, it’s my mistake. Good to have you with us, Kevin. So talk about this from the top, just how you came to this story and what your take was.

Kevin Gosztola: There was a list that was posted on social media on a few days ago and it was just before the weekend and I decided to go digging and look at who the individuals were that DNC chair Tom Perez nominated for these standing committees. You have the rules committee, you’ve got the very crucially important platform committee. Then you have the credentials committee, which is essentially a committee that looks at whether a member is still in good standing and deserves to remain a part of the Democratic Party or a part of any of these committees. So they’ll hear any challenges as to whether a person is eligible for a committee or any of these positions or these party positions, et cetera.

I started to look at all of the different individuals. I recognized some of the names and basically I did some research on who these people work for, what their ties are. I knew that some of them were former Clinton campaign officials for both Hillary’s campaigns as well as Bill Clinton’s campaign. Some of these are recognizable because they worked for president Barack Obama. Then you begin to see a picture as you look through the different lists of individuals who have positions on corporate consulting firms, have positions as lobbyist, and so that’s… So I just let this take me wherever it would go.

Marc Steiner: So I mean you, you point out some people are very specifically on this list. Bakari Sellers being one, and others that you kind of deem as kind of emblematic of what’s being done here and how the packing committee. So talk a bit about who really jumped out at you and why and I have some more specific questions about this.

Kevin Gosztola: I’d break it down into these groups of people who you could go after because they’re a pro-Israel Democrats. I think that’s really significant because we saw this outline appear back in 2016 when Bernie Sanders with the assistance of James Zogby, who is someone who was part of the DNC executive committee, which appoints all these people to the standing committees, he was purged by Tom Perez from the executive committee in 2017. So he was the voice on the platform drafting committee in 2016 for changing some of the language speak to the humanitarian crisis that was going on in Gaza to acknowledge that there is an Israeli military occupation and the Clinton delegates thwarted any efforts along with some of the DNC deligates so they prevented Sanders from changing the platform.
There was also a battle over changing language so that it didn’t treat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as this movement that is antisemitic. So you see that now that there are people who are put on these standing committees who are part of groups, like one of them is Meghan Stabler who is Democratic Majority for Israel that was recently created last year. Its sole existence is to prevent the Democratic Party from being changed in the way that it treats Palestinians, but most importantly, the way that it might abandon arming Israel in order to be this ally that fights, that we use to fight different countries in the middle East.

But then you look at Bakari Sellers, he actually spearheaded the fight back in 2016 to prevent any changes to the platform. Over the last years, as you look at them, not only do you have that, you have the fact that he’s cast aspersions on Bernie Sanders and his ability to appeal to black voters making it seem like his record as a civil rights activist does not matter at all and should bear no significance, and he’s been involved in basically weaponizing his identity as a black commentator at CNN in order to use this as a kind of cudgel against Bernie Sanders to make it difficult for the Sanders campaign to show that they have wide appeal outside of white voters essentially.

So you have that subset. Then you have these corporate consultants. You have people who are involved in representing interests that are against progressive politics. So there’s the Dewey Square Group, and I found three individuals that are working for them, Maria Cardona, you have Minyon Moore and you have Charlie Baker who is the founder and president of the Dewey Square Group. The Intercept had previously reported that this group had fought against the health reform legislation that Barack Obama was responsible for passing and that they also have represented interests that don’t have much interest in raising the minimum wage. So you have this reality that there are these people who are on one hand neo-liberals and then you also have these others who want to protect the status quo when it comes to how Democrats treat foreign policy.

Marc Steiner: So I mean, listen, so when you look at this list, and clearly this list is really weighted towards corporate Democrats and there’s clearly a push to minimize Sanders and the power of the Sanders movement or even Elizabeth Warren as well. I think, there’s a clear push here from inside. But the question becomes then, if the Democratic Party at this point in American history is most likely the only force that can unseat Trump, what does this mean for that internal battle and where that takes us November election? I mean, that to me was the thing that really glared. I’d also read David Frum’s piece in The Atlantic just before we went on the air, that just came on just before we got into this conversation together where he also said to the Democrats, you have to… Bernie can’t win, I think but that you have to take some of his platform and his ideas if you have any hope of defeating Trump.

So it was interesting, David Frum who was a Republican and worked for Bush, but let’s talk a bit about what this means in the larger sense when you have this internal war going on and what that could mean towards the convention and post-convention.

Kevin Gosztola: Yeah, and what David Frum wrote is incredible because he’s obviously someone who is part of the Bush administration and he helped bring us the Iraq war and he’s using throughout his piece this metaphor of how Bernie Sanders is going to meet this army and he’s using war metaphors when in fact he sent us into a war and never found weapons of mass destruction. Anyways, we all know that. I think what people need to know is that there was this battle over super delegates that played out in 2016 and the Bernie Sanders camp decided that they were going to go to war in order to make sure that they removed these super delegates and they fought and eventually they got this unity reform commission where there were people who represented the Clinton campaign’s interests, represented some of the DNC’s interests, and then you had people who represented what the Sanders campaign wanted out of the Democratic Party.

Marc Steiner: Right.

Kevin Gosztola: They ended up diminishing the power of super delegates. The Sanders campaign did not win an abolition of super delegates, but what you have now is the super delegates do not get to vote until after the first ballot. What we see happening here with these DNC standing committees is that you have them stacked in such a way that they are going to be able to help these super delegates when they are supposed to take that vote. So if Bernie Sanders does not have enough pledged delegates during the democratic national convention in July, which will be in Milwaukee, then it’s going to go to the super delegates to add, and they have over 700 super delegates that are going to be able to add their vote and none of them are supposed to or required to vote the way in which their state voted.
So they could vote against Bernie Sanders from a state where Bernie Sanders won, and then all of these people can carry out this agenda. But even if Bernie Sanders becomes the nominee, the other struggle that you see is that they could thwart his agenda in the platform. So very possible that you could nominate Bernie Sanders, but then have a Democratic Party platform that caters to corporate interests as it has for the last few decades as it has for the new Democrat.

Marc Steiner: But just for argument’s sake, we don’t have to get into this too deeply here. But if Bernie Sanders is in fact the nominee for the Democratic Party, if that should happen, if he can he can win on the first ballot, which is probably not going to happen. But who knows. If he was nominee, he could do whatever he wanted. He doesn’t have to listen. Nobody listens to the platform once they’re out running in the field. They’re running on what they believe in and they are pushing as hard as they can to win. So the question is what does this lead? What do you think, before we close, with this internal struggle going on, leads the Democrats in their fight against this kind of white nationalist takeover of the executive branch and pushing this arch conservative agenda, but where does that leave that struggle?

Kevin Gosztola: This just shows what we’ve been going through for the last four years, which the Democratic Party has been entirely ignoring, and instead they’ve preferred to fight Donald Trump by making people believe that he’s some kind of Russian asset when in fact they haven’t been able to provide any proof or evidence. That was all a distraction. All of this deflection from addressing how Hillary Clinton actually lost in the 2016 election was so they didn’t have to change the way in which they allow corporations and lobbyists and think tank board members, the very people who are on these standing committees, they didn’t want to change the role that these people have and the direction of the party.

So they created this whole idea that Donald Trump is controlled somehow and getting orders and being influenced by the Russian government and they wanted us to be distracted. Now we come to 2020 when we really need to have our best nominee to beat Donald Trump, the Democrats have to have their best nominee to beat Donald Trump and they’re in trouble because everything that they’ve organized is politically against where the progressive base is. It’s politically against the grassroots and all of this energy. So they’ve nominated all these people who are actually going to be suppressing the vote, suppressing people who are enthusiastic.
I think what we see happening is we’re going to have a battle in July and either Bernie Sanders prevails or you see something with Sanders and Warren coming together to form a coalition and they prevail or you see something where maybe some of these smaller candidates like Tang and Tulsi Gabbard could contribute in some ways. But if they don’t prevail, then you’ve got a corporate candidate who becomes the nominee and you’re going to see a repeat of 2016 where people just say, “I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired and I don’t want to play this game anymore.”

Marc Steiner: Well, we’ll probably have to leave it there though I’d love to kind of delve more deeply about what that means for the next four years if Trump is in there and what that could mean for your future, our futures, the entire country’s future. But we’ll get into that another day. Kevin Gosztola. It’s always great to talk to you. Appreciate your writing and what you expose today in this. Kevin is managing editor of Shadowproof. You can read his article over the Grayzone. Once again, thank you so much for being with us.

Kevin Gosztola: Thank you.

Marc Steiner: My pleasure. I’m Marc Steiner here for the Real News Network. Thank you all for joining us. Please let us know what you think and where you’d like us to take these conversations. Take care.


Marc Steiner

Managing Editor

Marc Steiner, interim co-Editor at TRNN, is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on issues of social justice. He walked his first picket line at age 13 and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested for Civil Rights protests, in the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught Theatre for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993 through 1997 his signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR – which Marc co-founded – and Morgan State University’s WEAA.