Divided in Defeat, Democrats Hitting Each Other with Recriminations...and Fists

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.t, right, and Hillary Clinton react as they speak during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Thursday, April 14, 2016, New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

For months leading up to the November election in was Republicans threatening reprisals against other Republicans for not supporting the party’s nominee. Donald Trump won, so we never saw any serious attempts at punishing the infidels, but that sort of thing may be happening on the Democrat side.

In Michigan earlier this month Hillary Clinton fans and Bernie Sanders fans reportedly erupted into a brawl at a state Democratic Party committee meeting.

During their meeting, Sam Pernick, president of the Young Democrats of Michigan, and other Sanders supporters—who nearly outnumbered the rest of the attendees at the meeting—protested the lack of transparency and openness exercised by the Michigan Democratic Party, which rigged the DNC delegate nomination process behind closed doors. Michigan Democratic Party officials responded with force. Pernick and several others were nearly dragged out of the meeting. Pernick is pursuing charges, and the Westland Police Department recently issued Mike Stone, a senior Michigan Democratic Party official, a ticket for assault and battery.

“We need to make it clear that violence, assault and battery have no place in our party,” Pernick said in a press release. “We came there to protest a lack of transparency and support Keith Ellison for DNC Chair—the reaction from leaders within the party was to violently throw us out of the room.”

It would seem that Democrats remain far more fractured than Republicans since November. The divide seems to be along the line separating the far left progressives and the farthest left progressives.

Six delegates were to be chosen at that Michigan Democratic Party meeting to represent Michigan at the DNC for the next four years, where they would be able to vote for the next DNC chair, and participate in other important decisions to determine the direction of the entire party. Pernick and his group claimed the voting process was predetermined to reflect the preferences of the party leaders—not its members.

The Electoral College has voted and the Democrats’ largely imaginary hopes for a miraculous buzzer beating win for Clinton (or at least a loss for Trump) have dropped off the front page. The claim that operatives for Vladimir Putin stole the election for Trump appears destined to be the Democrats’ version of birtherism. Now the internal recriminations are coming to light.

The Sanders faction sees themselves as second-class citizens in the Democratic Party.

In the final months of the brutal and chaotic 2016 campaign, there were plenty of Democratic activists freaking out about Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (the three states that ultimately cost the Democrats the White House) and Clinton’s fatal shortcomings there. Many of them were envoys of the Sanders camp who wanted to help fix those problems, including Clinton’s difficulties with the block of the mythical “white-working-class,” economically anxious voters who Sanders had championed during the primaries.

“They f***ing ignored us on all these [three] battleground states [while] we were sounding the alarm for months,” Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and former Sanders surrogate who served on the 2016 Democratic National Committee platform committee, told The Daily Beast. “We kept saying to each other like, ‘What the f***, why are they just blowing us off? They need these voters more than anybody.’”

The leaked DNC emails showing the Party’s favoritism toward Clinton and disdain for Sanders probably didn’t help much either. Now the “Bernie would have beaten Trump” specter has manifested.

If Democrats had made a different choice in the primaries last spring, Bernie Sanders would be assembling his Cabinet right now. A reading of voting patterns in the presidential election suggests that the Vermont senator would have beaten Donald Trump.

Trump won the election by prevailing in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that, together, gave him 46 electoral votes. In Michigan, he edged Hillary Clinton by just three-tenths of a percent. In Wisconsin, the margin was eight-tenths. In Pennsylvania there was a slightly larger gap of 1.2%.

ll three of those states usually lean toward the Democratic candidate. This time around, most working-class white voters — many of whom voted for Barack Obama in the last two elections — saw Clinton as the incarnation of a political establishment that was indifferent to their struggles. They were won over by Trump’s boasts that he would protect American jobs and challenge the influence of Wall Street. Who else in the 2016 campaign made similar promises, with far more conviction? Bernie Sanders, of course.

As a conservative still skeptical about Trump, the one really good thing I can say about his victory is that seeing the Democrats tear each other apart is delicious.