I’m going to do something very unpopular. I’m going out on a limb to speak in defense (sort of) of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), the newest whipping girl for the Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Meghan McCain: Obama 'a dirty capitalist like the rest of us' Dems might begin again with Kamala Harris and California MORE arm of the Democratic Party.
Wasserman Schultz is, for a few more days, also the head of the Democratic National Committee — the fundraising arm of the party. When President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaSchiff: Trump will blame Obama during his entire presidency Trump must challenge Iran's ongoing human rights abuses Overnight Cybersecurity: Anticipation builds for Trump cyber order | House panel refers Clinton IT contractor for prosecution | Pentagon warned Flynn about foreign payments MORE appointed her to that position in 2011, she was praised for “her tenacity, her strength, her fighting spirit and her ability to overcome adversity.”
This week, Wasserman Schultz has come under fire for leaked internal DNC emails that supposedly suggested a desire to favor Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate over Sanders. The DNC is supposed to stay neutral on the candidates.
While the sentiments included in some of these internal messages suggest frustration over the Clinton/Sanders battle, there is no evidence that anyone at the DNC ever acted on these internal musings or conflicts about the guy who has only been a Democrat for little more than a year.
I’m not saying that it’s OK for the head of the DNC to take sides, as suggested by these internal e-mails, allegedly hacked by the Russians and shared with the world by the infamous WikiLeaks. But, according to one report in the last year, the ultimate decision about Wasserman Schultz might have been a fait accompli, because even though it was acknowledged that she had worked hard for the Democratic Party, “… [t]he greater priority [in 2016 became one] to mollify restive liberals backing Sanders.”
Perhaps hindsight is 20/20 and whatever sixth sense some Democrats had a while back should have been listened to. But the issue many Sanders supporters are raising — that e-mails showed Wasserman Schultz and others weren’t being fair to Sanders — are missing one small issue. The DNC is an organization tasked with electing and raising money for Democrats — mostly loyal Democrats.
And while Sanders ran for president as a Democrat, by his own admission he was an Independent or Democratic Socialist and only ran as Democrat to get more media attention. So, as the head of the DNC, was it unreasonable to expect that Wasserman Schultz and her staff might lean more toward the woman who has been a Democrat since she graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 rather than the Independent who just wanted a little more earned media?
The current state of affairs is a needless persecution of someone who has long been described as “… beloved by the Democratic rank and file for her aggressive, outspoken advocacy for liberal points of view.” It’s a persecution that fits nicely into Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: I was 'psyched to terminate' NAFTA Trump: 'Major, major' conflict with North Korea possible Cohn: People 'wasting time' calling for Trump's tax returns MORE’s playbook of embarrassing Democrats, making them look like fools and convincing Americans that somehow he has a better handle on appeasing a crowd.
Given her long time service and dedication to the party, the convention floor calls for “lock her up” and the boos of Sanders’ supporters, are going a bit overboard. I am not saying that the DNC e-mails were the right thing, but we seem to live in a “what have you done for me lately” world, and rowdy Sanders supporters will not be assuaged by what Wasserman Schultz has done for her Florida constituents over the years or the millions she’s raised for other Democrats.
The Democratic Party can’t survive this election — or others — if this “throw her to the lions” attitude persists. Some Sanders supporters even say they hope the Democratic Party implodes. They’re forgetting, though, that no one is perfect. Not Wasserman Schultz. Not Bernie Sanders. Not Hillary Clinton. Not even those who consider themselves righteous Bernie voters.
If supporters of the Democratic cause continue down this road, demanding heads on a pike Game of Thrones-style for any and all transgressions, the next person sitting on America’s version of the Iron Throne will be Donald Trump.
Bamberger is a political journalist and is the author/editor of the award-winning book Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, a researched anthology that explores why voters have such complicated and conflicting feelings about Hillary Clinton, and how that could impact finally electing a woman president.
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