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Sanders writes: "Donald Trump's presidency represents an unprecedented crisis for our country. His campaign, and now his White House, seek to divide us using racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia."

Bernie Sanders. (photo: AP)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: AP)

How to Fix the Democratic Party

By Bernie Sanders, Politico

11 November 17

It’s time we come together to enact real reform—only then can we defeat Donald Trump and retake the country.

onald Trump’s presidency represents an unprecedented crisis for our country. His campaign, and now his White House, seek to divide us using racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia. His economic agenda is the agenda of the billionaire class. He wants more tax breaks for the rich, while cutting education, nutrition, affordable housing and other programs desperately needed by working families. And his refusal to acknowledge the great danger of climate change is a threat to the entire planet.

There is nothing, nothing more important than defeating Donald Trump and his extreme right-wing agenda. But this will not happen without an effective opposition party.

Victories in Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, Maine and other states around the country on Tuesday are an important first step in pushing back against Trump’s radical agenda. It was especially gratifying to see thousands of working people and young people jump into the political process, volunteering, knocking on doors and winning elections to state legislatures, city councils and school boards. But the longer-term trend for the Democratic Party is worrisome.

Since 2009, it has lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control the White House and 34 (soon to be 33) out of 50 governorships, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

In 26 states, Republicans control the governor's mansion along with the entirety of the state legislature. This is not just in so-called deep red states. It is true in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and New Hampshire, all of which will be critical to defeating Trump in 2020, and in drawing congressional districts following that year’s Census.

What is especially absurd about this situation is that the American people strongly oppose almost all elements of the Trump-Republican agenda. Fewer than one-third of Americans support the Trump and Republican tax cuts for the wealthy, and just 12 percent supported their plan to throw tens of millions of people off of their health care. The majority of Americans understand that climate change is real.

Donna Brazile’s recent book makes it abundantly clear how important it is to bring fundamental reforms to the Democratic Party. The party cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants. It must open its doors and welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people who desperately want to be involved in determining the future of our nation.

Last year, Secretary Hillary Clinton and I agreed upon the need for a Unity Reform Commission to move the party in a new and more democratic direction. In a few weeks, this group will have its final meeting in Washington, D.C., and will decide if we are going to move forward in an inclusive way or continue with the current failed approach.

This is not some abstract, insular debate. The future of Democratic Party institutions has everything to do with whether or not Democrats have the grass-roots energy to effectively take on Trump, the Republican Party and their reactionary agenda—or whether we remain in the minority.

What are some of the reforms that are desperately needed?

First, it is absurd that the Democratic Party now gives over 700 superdelegates—almost one-third the number a presidential candidate needs to win the nomination—the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters.

Second, in contrast to Republicans, Democrats believe in making voting easier, not harder. We believe in universal and same-day voter registration and ending antiquated, arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration laws. These same principles must apply to our primaries. Our job must be to reach out to independents and to young people and bring them into the Democratic Party process. Independent voters are critical to general election victories. Locking them out of primaries is a pathway to failure.

In that regard, it is absurd that New Yorkers must change their party registration six months before the Democratic primary in order to participate. Other states have similar, if not as onerous provisions.

Third, in states that use caucuses, we must make it easier for working people and students to participate. While there is much to be said for bringing people together, face to face to discuss why they support the candidate of their choice, not everybody is able to participate because of work, child care or other obligations. A process must be developed that gives everyone the right to cast a vote even if they are not physically able to attend a caucus.

Finally, if we are to succeed, we must fully appreciate Brazile’s revelations and understand the need for far more transparency in the financial and policy workings of the Democratic Party. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the Democratic National Committee with little to no accountability. That simply is not acceptable.

At a time when we have a Republican president and Republican Party whose leadership and agenda are strongly opposed by the American people, now is the time for real change. It is critical that we come together and reform the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will win local, state and national elections and transform our country. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+25 # 2017-11-11 14:15
I just don't see how the Democrats can support the agenda of working people when their campaigns are financed by Wall St and the military industrial complex. So far as I know, Bernie is the only one who does not accept corporate cash. I would like to know the options for solving this problem
+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-11 14:23
Unity would be OK if the Clinton/neo-con /neo-lib/corpor ate faction in the party would make concessions and give up the power and control it has had over the party since the 1990s. But I don't see any concessions coming from the establishment democrats. They strengthened the power of the super delegates by offering positions to lobbyists.

Sanders is a lot like Obama. He wants to work with the other side. Obama got rolled by republicans in congress and he got very little done of the "progressive" agenda. Mostly he got the work of the republicans done. Now it is happening to Sanders.

Here is what I think. The Clinton/Podesta /Soros facton of the party is on the ropes. Hillary is in disgrace. Podesta may be indicted by Mueller soon. Soros is losing everywhere in the world. Why offer to bring them back in and rehabilitate them. Now is the time for the coup de grace. Remember, they only have power because we are nice and let them. Those days should end now. Demand a full resignation of all executive members of the DNC. Replace them with Our Revolution and other organizers and progressives.
+12 # LionMousePudding 2017-11-11 15:33
Oh Bernie,

You don't need the Democratic party, they need you. We don't need the Democratic party, the Democratic party needs us. If those of us who the Democratic party keeps beating back and beating down, just leave, what's left? Power brokerw with corporate candidates and no one to vote for them

Don't yiu see the pattern of abuse? I have been abused and it is so clear to me. Clinging onto an abuser's boots begging him not to leave you, as he kicks mud into your face and open mouth, is not the way toeard a good future.

What sign do we lack that the Democratic party hates you and me and all Progressives? What sign have we seen that they are beginning to see our worth and their mistake? It isn't happening. It isn't going to happen. You can't talk an abuser into stopping the abuse and loving you or cooperating in making things better. They abuse because they can. They can becsuse you, we, let them. We let them because we don't leave.

Don't be like so many abused women and let your abuser slowly kill you, and us, and Progressivism, because we are the lifeblood of the country. We are the only ones fighting for real goals which will enable millions of Americans to survive and thrive here. If the DNC grinds us under their heel- and make no mistake, this is the plan.

Bernie so many of us are waiting for you. Just say the word. You have a powerful army behind you. You don't have to run the new party (the People's Party IMO), just give us the go ahead.
+8 # BobboMax 2017-11-11 15:34
I think one problem common to both parties is an entrenched power group that doesn't want to cede control to a messy mob of individuals. Democracy is a messy process at all stages and levels- the kind of people who like to run things don't like to deal with the mess- they want people to be quiet and do as they're told.
+11 # ddd-rrr 2017-11-11 15:46
Thanks, Bernie, for an excellent summary for what must be done for the Democratic Party to continue as a viable entity, and for it to once again be capable of winning elections at ALL levels of government! And, thanks to Politico and to RSN for publishing this. I'm still hoping that such measures as what Bernie mentions here can still be instituted in time to save this party from destruction from the petty in-fighting now current, and the various other ills that have befallen it.
+21 # grandlakeguy 2017-11-11 16:13
The most important step to real representative governance is to expose the fraud that infests our voting process!

Any non transparent electronic voting or tabulating MUST GO!
+14 # Ken Halt 2017-11-11 16:30
We The People hear you, Bernie! Whether establishment Dems are listening remains to be seen. Judging from the recent Perez purge, they'd rather continue losing than give any concessions or respect to progressives.
+10 # btraven 2017-11-11 16:37
Unfortunately the Democratic Party shows absolutely no sign of the Clintonites giving up their control of the Party. In fact Hillary herself has trashed Bernie and his followers personally for her loss. Biden is another right wing Dem. Bernie should not make the mistake of assuming this refrom group will not compllete the process of dimishing the role of the Sander's progressive wing. this is a fight and the threat of a third party running should be thrown on the table.
+17 # librarian1984 2017-11-11 16:58
Maybe Donna Brazile promised Bernie she'd tell the truth in exchange for his help last year. Her accusations certainly tee up his demand for reform.

And before eric et al go slamming Bernie, tell me who else is even talking about healthcare -- VA voters' NUMBER ONE CONCERN. Just Sanders.

We talk about the GOP's promising a repeal of ACA for seven years and still not having a replacement but what about Democrats? They had 7 years to fix it -- and it seems to have dropped out of the WDC conversation again, even though it should be clear millions need help immediately.

Sanders is the only one talking about healthcare. Or election reform, oligarchs, the military budget.

So where is the corporate Democrat spokesman, offering the alternative vision so Democrats can choose? They all resent him so much, what are their ideas? Who's their leader?

Winning elections is about ADDITION. We need to include Independents in primaries because we want them to have a voice -- and then vote for our candidate. They're 42% of the electorate. We need them.

We want easy registration so underdeveloped prefrontal cortex young people, the Future of Politics, will join us.

The GOP is alienating young people who don't like paedophiles and planet destroyers. We could grab them up, but not with a militarist, corporate message.

Not a nickel to any part of the Democrat Party until there's transparency and a pivot to support workers, families and youth.
+12 # Wally Jasper 2017-11-11 17:09
It's downright amusing to watch Tom Perez and other DNC officials talking out of both sides of their mouth and saying different things. As if they can have it both ways. But it's clear they know who their Masters are: the corporate lobbyists and their corporate and bankster donors. Looks like Bernie is still holding out hope that the Dems. will see the light, but chances are around zero that the so-called "Unity Reform Commission" will buck their oligarch Masters off their backs along with their rotten laundered money. It will be interesting to see how Bernie responds when the farce finally shows itself for what it is: a desperate ploy to present a feel-good show outwardly while double dealing in the shadows as the servile puppets they are. One thing is clear: it ain't business as usual anymore. Too much has been revealed and too many people will no longer be deceived. We shall see how it all plays out.
+4 # angelfish 2017-11-11 17:45
As usual, you are SO Right, Bernie! I'm hoping that you see fit to run again, and, without any chicanery on the Part of the Pseudo-Democrat s who have usurped the Party, WIN! YOU are the breath of Fresh air this country has been LONGING for since Reagan's misbegotten Presidency. It was the beginning of the end for Democracy in this country and the Oligarchs began to Slash, Burn and Cripple our country in favor of the 2 %ers! Enough, It's been FAR too long trying to dig our way out of their Morass of Self-Service and "Poop on the little guy" form of Politics! Time for the MEN and Women with Hearts, Souls and Minds to take their rightful place in the Governance of this STILL Great country once again! May our Good God Bless you in ALL your endeavors and help you get us BACK on the Road to Recovery, Honor and Sanity that has been missing since the ReTHUGlicans tainted us with their Greed, Divisiveness and Self-Serving Poison!
+9 # grandlakeguy 2017-11-11 17:51
Joseph Stalin famously said:
"True power lies not with those who cast the votes but with those who count the votes!"

The Republicans learned this truth long ago and have been systematically stealing our elections since 2000 with their partisan controlled electronic voting devices which tabulate with secret "proprietary software."
When their disgusting disenfranchisem ent schemes are not adequate to "win" their races they just change the vote counts.

American elections are anything but free and fair and it is no longer a secret.

BERNIE PLEASE: stop going along with the stupid Democratic Party policy of ignoring this truth and

If our elections were honest the Republicans would be swept into the dustbin of history...where they belong.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-11-12 07:32
you don't need Stalin's advice to understand electoral corruption. This has been well practiced by US political parties since the nation's founding. Stalin was a new comer.

Democrats of the old south knew how to exclude those whose votes they did not want. And now republicans of the whole nation know all the tactics of vote counting, too.

In the early 20th century there was always a undercurrent discussion among the ruling elites about how to make democracy "safe" for them. They allow women to vote once they understood that marketing programs would insure that women voted in the same way as men; that is, there would be no women's agenda like peace, anti-alcohol, school expansion, healthcare, programs for children.

The ruling elites have the "safe democracy" they have been engineering for a century. Only problem is that it is not much of a democracy. It is an oligarchy in the clothes of a democracy.
-7 # ericlipps 2017-11-11 21:54
First, it is absurd that the Democratic Party now gives over 700 superdelegates—almost one-third the number a presidential candidate needs to win the nomination—the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters.
And yet when Sen. Sanders looked to be falling short during the primaries last year, his supporters suddenly shifted from damning the very existence of the superdelegates to scheming as to how to get them to drop Hillary and vote for Bernie. In other words, as far as they were concerned, superdelegates were bad when they were likely to support a candidate they hated, but would be good if they were persuaded to support a candidate they preferred.
+1 # RICHARDKANE.philadelphia 2017-11-11 23:38
Donald Trump is a skilled con-artist and egomaniac who truly believes he will poker bluff Kim into backing down into a disarmed united

Korea with Kim having major influence in a unified state. Donald is trying to do everything Netanyahu wants in exchange for Netanyahu

making peace with Palestinian, Trump’s anti-environmen t rhetoric is so far shaking the world in the opposite direction. Russia is just trying

to break into the pushy-mans club with the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia not wanting a new partner in the aggression club. Bernie shines

when he apologizes for what an aggressive follower does, not when Bernie adds to the heavy rhetoric. The biggest disaster so far is

unleashing Saudi Arabia which has al Qaeda’s goals without taking al Qaeda’s suicidal risks I wish I could still blog under
RICHARDKANEpa but no new password ever arrived. Could part of RSN financial woes be due to rightwing hackers?
+4 # relegn 2017-11-12 07:22
When individuals in the US receive a Social Security card, if they are at least 18 years old at the time, they should also be given the right to vote and so registered. All American citizens have the right to vote whether born here or earned here.
+4 # lfeuille 2017-11-12 23:33
These days they get their Social Security card at birth if they are US born, but there could be automatic voter registration at 18 by some other means.
+2 # lfeuille 2017-11-12 23:40
In addition it open primaries, I think the party should be aggressively fighting voter suppression. They are still pretending it doesn't exist. They should also be pursuing recounts in close races. They seem to be afraid of looking like sore losers. but they voters who are denied a voice a mostly Dem voters and the Party should be doing it to regain their votes, for the disenfranchised voters. Individuals have no recourse if they have been cheated out of their vote. Only candidates can pursue it.

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