It's well known that a large percentage of this blog is answering the political questions my friend said to me, and this post is no different. My friend Maxine asked me to write something about the Clinton/DNC fundraising agreement, and I felt like it was the least I could do. See, Maxine taught me how to door-to-door canvass, and those skills have proved incredibly handy in my current job, and I'll do what I can to pay Maxine back.
(Side note, I get that everyone is annoyed by street canvassers, but please, be nice to them. They're people too.)
Yesterday, Donna Brazile published an article in Politico about a secret fundraising agreement between Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. It's a detailed article, with a lot of different moving parts, and we're going to address them one by one.
The 2012 presidential election had put the DNC in debt. $24 million dollars of debt, to be exact. In order to deal with this debt, Hillary Clinton's various fundraising mechanisms took on 80% of the debt and put the DNC on an allowance.
It's important to know about the two different fundraising mechanisms Clinton had. There was Hillary for America, her direct campaign and the Hillary Victory Fund. Unlike the campaign, Hillary for America, which has strict contribution limits of $2,700 per individual, the Hillary Victory Fund allowed donors to give up to $20,000 dollars to each state Democratic party that signed on to be part of the Hillary Victory Fund campaign. Between $20,000 dollars to each state party, the $68,000 a donor can contribute to the DNC, caps on individual campaign donations, and donations to PACs, a wealthy donor could have given up to $732,200 in the 2016 election cycle.
Clinton was raking in the cash, and that cash was being used to pay off the DNC's debt. According to Brazile, the officers of the DNC didn't know about this, which is the first red flag. Part of this deal also meant that the Hillary Campaign controlled a large amount of the money they raised through the Victory Fund. This isn't necessarily a problem, it was their money after all, except that the money for the DNC Victory Fund was supposed to be reserved for the nominee. And it wasn't. Hillary was controlling a large amount of money that was technically the DNC's only 4 months after she announced her candidacy. That's the second red flag.
The final red flag is that the agreement specified that in exchange for raising money for the DNC, Clinton's campaign team would control that money, and have say over DNC strategy. That meant they could veto the party communications director, and exercise input and editing over what the DNC released. Which meant Hillary Clinton could control the messaging of the DNC long before she was ever the nominee.
Was this Unfair to Bernie?
I'll be honest with you all: Yes. The agreement the DNC and the Clinton Campaign signed wasn't illegal, and the Sanders Campaign could have had the same option. In fact, Sanders did sign a similar fundraising agreement, though his campaign did not have the same leverage due to their model of small donations. If Sanders had brought in the same heavy cash from state Democratic parties, he likely could have had the same monetary advantage Clinton did, but that's where the agreement becomes unfair.
Because Clinton controlled the messaging the DNC was putting out, and because she controlled the staffing, she created a DNC that supported her long before it should have. While members of the DNC are all leaning one way or the other, the Committee should remain largely impartial until a nominee is selected by the people.
Think of it this way. I'm a government employee. I can work for and advocate for whoever I want when I'm off the clock (that's why I have this blog) but when I'm at my job, I have to remain impartial on any electoral matters. The DNC runs sort of the same, even though it is a campaign organization. It wasn't created to support whatever candidate the leadership likes at the time. It was created to support Democrats, and Democrats who are running for higher office. To lend support, and even worse, cede control to a candidate before they are the official nominee, was deeply unfair.
You were right Bernie supporters. The DNC was unfair to Bernie all along.
Was the Primary Rigged?
We will probably never know the extent that this decision impacted the primary. Supporters of Bernie will say that this proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the primary was rigged in Hillary's favor. Supporters of Hillary will say that Bernie could have negotiated the same agreement and chose not to, and this is just a case of someone playing the game better.
I'm going to extract myself from this debate. I'm so deeply uninterested in rehashing the specifics of the primary. I think that we've learned something really eye-opening about the DNC, and we should all be on our guard for future elections, and demand reforms of this organization.
But to me, it doesn't matter who won the primary because the Democrats lost the general election. Which brings me to my next point.
Would Bernie Have Won?
I'm going to be honest with you all: No. The thing that drove me the most crazy about Brazile's article (other than her complete lack of skill for writing dialogue, but we'll get to that later) was when she acted like she knew Trump was going to win all along.
Since the election, I've seen a lot of smart people insisting they knew that Trump would win. This surprises me, because none of these smart people said a word about it before the election. With Brazile's article, it's given space to Bernie supporters to argue that if the DNC hadn't meddled, Bernie would have been the nominee and he would have won.
But Hillary's loss didn't come down to Russian hacking, or a media conspiracy, or a widespread denial of her as a leader. It came down to a couple of electoral votes. If she had won Florida, or Wisconsin, or Pennsylvania, or Ohio, or Michigan, or North Carolina, she would have been president today. It came down to losing a couple of votes, in a couple of states. Many of these states were states she won in the primary. If Bernie couldn't win Pennsylvania or Ohio in the primary, how was he going to win them in a general? Sure, Bernie won some key states in the primaries (Wisconsin and Michigan) but that maybe would not have been enough to sway Trump voters in a general.
It came down to a couple of states. To say Bernie would have won those states is playing with too many "what ifs." He didn't win those states in the primary. Sure there were some dirty tricks by the DNC, but there were dirty tricks by the Trump campaign in the general. There is no doubt in my mind that Bernie would have lost against Trump. But hey, that's just my opinion. You're entitled to your own.
What CAN We Agree On?
It's divisive now in the Democratic Party. We're sort of at each others throats. But I think I can find something that will bring us together.
And that is Donna Brazile's over the top writing style. I just want to share with you some selections from her Politico piece.
“No! That can’t be true!” I said. “The party cannot take out a loan without the unanimous agreement of all of the officers.”
“Hello, senator. I’ve completed my review of the DNC and I did find the cancer,” I said. “But I will not kill the patient.”
I was going to manage this party the best I could and try to make it better, even if Brooklyn did not like this.
Now, I've read a lot of bad fanfiction in my day. Hell, I've even written bad fan fiction. So believe me when I tell you that this Politico piece reads like bad fanfiction. I'm not sure who Donna Brazile's ghostwriter is but they certainly have a future writing soap operas, or at least bad teen novels. And that, my dear friends, both Hillary Bots and Bernie Bros, is something we can all make fun of, together.