Why there’s a very real battle being waged by Bernie Sanders and his supporters over Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary battle in Florida.
Usually after a political convention, a party and its supporters tend to come together. It’s normal for candidates to forget anything bad said about them by their primary rivals and supporters to come together behind the party’s nominee.
Of course the operative word in that last sentence is “normal.” The 2016 elections have been anything but normal.
Other than the obvious headline of many high ranking Republicans publically saying they will not be supporting Trump in the general election, there has been an equally fierce inter-party conflict on the local level for Democrats. It has to do with Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s primary battle for her House seat in Florida and pissed-off Bernie Sanders supporters.
To understand how this happened, you first have to go back to the Democratic primary.
Schultz’s Loss Would Mean Something More to Sanders Supporters Than Just Revenge
Very rarely do you see individuals within your own party try and block an incumbent from trying to get re-elected that is in their own party! Schultz’s situation however is anything but normal. Remember those Bernie-or-Bust people at the Democratic National Convention?
Yeah… those guys are still going strong.
Fair or not Schultz became a symbol of the Democratic Establishment that Bernie-or-Bust people believe held back Sanders’ chances of gaining the nomination. For Sanders supporters, this isn’t just trying to get “payback” on Schultz, they look at her primary loss as something so much more. For many of them, a primary loss would show critics of Sanders’ “political revolution” that this wasn’t just a flash in the pan movement – a la Occupy Wall Street – but a movement that could hold the Democratic Party accountable for straying from the lest. Schultz’s would prove to many that Sanders’ supporters can bring systematic change within the Democratic Party, even though Sanders wasn’t able to clinch the Democratic nomination.
In many ways, this feeling of required systematic change is the basis of why many Sanders supporters may never vote for Hillary Clinton in November. Also this embrace from Clinton to Schultz at a recent fundraising event probably isn’t going to help matters on that front…
Bernie Sanders is Out to Prove His Political Revolution is Sustainable
On August 9th, the Sanders campaign sent out the above fundraising email to supporters. Tim Canova, Schultz’s primary challenger in Florida, has been one of the candidates that Sanders has endorsed during this primary season. In the few emails Sanders did send to his supporters, the DNC emails leak was referenced to multiple times! These fundraising emails that Sanders’ people continue to send out to their supporters make it perfectly clear, Sanders believes that having Schultz lose in the primaries would mean something.
While on the surface, Sanders asking his supporters to usurp Schultz may be perceived as petty, in reality it’s crucial for Sanders’ revolution to survive. For Sanders, the idea is to materialize the momentum he gained during the presidential primaries into legitimate political capital within the Democratic Party. If Sanders and his supporters were able to unseat incumbents that they deemed part of the “Democratic Establishment”, then Sanders’ political revolution could be something much bigger and have farther reach than originally expected.
Schultz – once again, fair or not – has become a symbol for everything that is wrong in the Democratic Party for everyone in Sander’s political revolution. The question now becomes, if they can actually unseat Schultz in the primaries, who would they target next?
(Photo Credit: Women’s Leadership Forum 2015)