In my writing I mention the term “confirmation bias” quite often. If you’re unaware of what that means, it’s basically defined as the tendency for people to seek out information which confirms something they already want to believe. It doesn’t matter if that information is factual, or even logical, just as long as it feeds into whatever preconceived notions they already have.
Well, an example of confirmation bias was never more prevalent than when a new round of hacked DNC emails were made public, with some Sanders supports claiming these “prove the primary election was rigged against Bernie.” Shockingly, nobody has shown a specific action (at least any that were credible) where the DNC did anything that actually led to Clinton winning a state (and don’t even give me “voter fraud” — if you believe that, then just stop reading this). The main thing many will mention is the number of debates, which really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense considering they added more and Sanders never saw any “bump” in polling results based on these events. In fact, after one of these added debates Sanders went 0-5 (FL, NC, OH, MO, IL) and after the New York debate he wanted, he was soundly defeated there, as well.
Out of the emails I saw Bernie Sanders folks upset about, one was absolutely disgusting and inexcusable. It was from DNC CFO Brad Marshall, who seemed to suggest playing up Sanders’ religion (or perceived lack of religion) might be a good strategy:
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.
Not only is that email pathetic, but Marshall should be immediately let go. While I understand politics is sometimes a bit of a “blood sport” where you contemplate any and all angles at times, Democrats are better than this — period.
But the rest of these emails are mostly a whole lot of nothing when you factor in context.
One was Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who I can’t stand, by the way), who wrote on May 21st that Sanders “isn’t going to be president”:
This is a silly story. He isn’t going to be president.
She was responding to an email someone had sent her asking if it was worth mentioning to CNN that, even though Sanders had promised to remove Schultz if elected, her term was over the day after inauguration when a new DNC chair would be elected anyway.
This was written on May 21 — when Hillary Clinton had a commanding (practically impossible to overcome) lead and the only people in the country still saying Sanders might be the nominee were people in his campaign and his supporters. Around that time he would have needed around 68 percent of all remaining delegates to have caught up to Clinton. So, while I know some people want to make a big deal out of Schultz saying this, she wasn’t wrong when she said it. At that point, there was practically no way he was going to win enough delegates to become the nominee.
Then there was an email Schultz wrote on April 24th where she said that Sanders had “no understanding of” the Democratic party:
Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.
First, until this election, he hadn’t been a member of the Democratic party, so that’s factually accurate. Also, this was in reply to an email concerning Sanders’ comments to CNN’s Jake Tapper where he attacked the party and claimed he wasn’t being treated fairly — citing the debate schedule. Keep in mind that this was sent after the New York primary, when practically everyone but his campaign and his supporters knew the race was all but over. I know that’s not what Sanders supporters wanted to hear at the time, but that was just the reality.
Another email had Schultz contacting Chuck Todd addressing Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzeninski who was calling for her to step down (as was I), without ever actually speaking to her or allowing her to give her side of the story. She then said it was pointless to talk to her because Brzeninski had already made up her mind:
She’s already served as a judge and jury without even bothering to talk to me. Not sure why I should trust having a conversation with her would make any difference. Or that she even matters, to be frank.
While I agree that Schultz is awful, and probably should have stepped down, this email doesn’t have much to do with Sanders at all.
At one point Schultz called Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver a “damn liar” in response to comments he had made regarding the rather embarrassing spectacle that took place in Nevada in May:
Damn liar. Particularly scummy that he barely acknowledges the violent and threatening behavior that occurred.
While I hesitate to defend Schultz, a lot of people weren’t too thrilled with the Sanders campaign basically saying they don’t condone violence — but the party sort of brought it on themselves. Even Samantha Bee lit into the Sanders campaign’s response. Heck, even ultra-liberal Mother Jones called Sanders out for refusing to really apologize for what happened, with his campaign putting most of the blame on party leadership. This was a pretty bad moment for the Sanders campaign, one to which they didn’t respond well.
And, I’m sorry, but I’ve maintained for a while that a big reason why Sanders struggled in some states is because of Weaver’s attitude. At times I referred to him as the left’s version of Karl Rove.
But other than that, those are about the only emails I’ve seen mentioned in many of these pro-Sanders groups, social media accounts and articles claiming that these “prove” the DNC was working against the Vermont senator.
Well, they don’t.
Let’s not forget that a big part of Sanders’ campaign was built upon bashing Schultz, the Democratic party and creating this victim mentality of “we’re going up against the establishment machine.” Then when you look at these emails (aside from the pathetic one about his religion), they’re mostly responses to other emails addressing something Sanders or his campaign had said about the Democratic party.
Plus they were all written in late April and May, when the race was pretty much over.
By the way, I would like to point out that his religion was never used against him. So, while that one email was, indeed, awful — clearly the party never took it seriously. Just because Marshall is a bottom-feeding fool for suggesting it, that doesn’t mean the party endorsed the idea.
Quick question though: If everyone’s friends and family could see the texts, emails or hear the comments you’ve said about them, their families, friends or things they’ve said and done — would they be too happy with everything they’d hear?
In private correspondence not meant to be made public, we all sometimes say things that, if cherry picked by those who don’t like us, could be used out of context to paint us in a rather unflattering light.
There were thousands of emails hacked… and a grand total of what, 5 or 6 were made into a “big story” that “proves” the DNC was working against Sanders — all toward the end of the primary?
I would like to point out that the DNC did add more debates like he wanted (they didn’t have to), the party also made sure he was on the ballot in New Hampshire (legally he could have been kept off) and Washington D.C. (they made sure a filing issue was resolved).
Let’s also not act as if just because people are supposed to be impartial, that they really are. While Bernie Sanders registered as a Democrat, he wasn’t one until just this past year. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has been a loyal member to the party for decades, and wasn’t spending a large part of her time campaigning vilifying it to galvanize support. Clearly there were people who’ve worked with the party most of their lives who weren’t exactly thrilled that they had a Democratic candidate (sometimes unfairly) painting them as “the enemy” as part of his campaign’s strategy.
It’s just human nature to have a little more loyalty to someone who’s been on “your side” for decades vs. someone who’s new to the game, who also happens to be bashing the party for which you’ve spent a good part of your life working and defending.
But the truth is, this wasn’t “rigged” against Sanders. The reason why Bernie Sanders lost is because he couldn’t win the minority vote — especially the African American vote. I ran the numbers from every single state and you could essentially predict who would win each state based on what type of election (primary vs. caucus) and by looking at the racial demographics of the state.
Hillary Clinton won 76 percent of primaries, while Bernie Sanders won 86 percent of caucuses. When it came to the average racial demographic breakdown of the states each won, they came out like this:
Hillary Clinton’s 28 wins:
- White 64%
- African American: 16%
- Latino: 14%
Bernie Sanders’ 22 wins:
- White: 78%
- African American: 5%
- Latino: 8%
If the election were really “rigged,” results wouldn’t have been relatively predictable based on the type of election the state held and racial demographics.
Bernie Sanders lost because he won mostly white states which were often very small, and couldn’t win many primaries — it didn’t matter whether or not they were open or closed. It wasn’t because the primary was rigged, or because a few people in the DNC weren’t his biggest fans. A Democratic candidate is not going to win the nomination by losing out on the over 50 vote; the female vote; the African American vote; the Latino vote; and mostly winning smaller states.
His campaign was amazing, reaching shocking levels of success, but he came up short — just like Hillary Clinton did in 2008, despite the fact that the party clearly wanted her to be the nominee over President Obama.
Even though he lost, his success forced the party to adopt many of his ideas. His impact on the party not only pulled it further to the left than it ever has been, but he made Hillary Clinton a much better candidate. So, while he didn’t win the nomination, in a lot of ways, he still won the battle of ideas by making sure many of the policies he wants enacted and supported by the party became part of its platform. As a result, we now have what Bernie Sanders himself has called the “most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic party.”
There are many ways to “win” in politics. He didn’t become the Democratic nominee, but Bernie Sanders was still victorious in numerous ways which have been a betterment for both the Democratic party and the nation as a whole.