Democrats hoping their party learned from its 2016 failure have been horrified to discover many of those behind Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign – including John Podesta of hacked email fame – have major Convention posts.
Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez has unveiled a 2020 Democratic Convention lousy with Clinton loyalists – Podesta merely the most notorious among them – alongside former Obama administration officials and corporate lobbyists. Democrats hoping the centrist old guard had relinquished its death-grip on the party are livid, and at least one campaign is pushing back.
“If the DNC believes it’s going to get away in 2020 with what it did in 2016, it has another thing coming,” Bernie Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner told progressive YouTube channel Status Coup on Monday. The appointments, she said, were “a slap in the face.”
A petition launched by Sanders supporters to have Podesta, the 2016 Clinton campaign director who infamously said in one leaked email that he agreed Sanders should be “ground to a pulp,” removed from all convention committees had gathered 1,400 signatures by Tuesday morning. Podesta has served as a lightning rod for progressive rage thanks to his high profile as ground zero for WikiLeaks’ disclosures of the DNC’s corruption. However, he’s far from the only one threatening to turn the 2020 convention into a repeat of 2016. The DNC’s appointments include a slate of figures cartoonishly hostile to the party’s progressive wing, from insurance industry lobbyists to a former ambassador to Israel.
The Platform Committee, which, as its name suggests, sets the platform the eventual Democratic nominee will campaign on, is co-chaired by Jake Sullivan, a former senior policy adviser for both of Clinton’s failed presidential campaigns who served as a national security adviser to establishment-favorite candidate Joe Biden when the latter was Obama’s vice president. Also on the committee is Bakari Sellers, a 2016 Clinton campaign surrogate who served in the same role for California Senator Kamala Harris in her failed 2020 presidential run. Sellers, a proud member of Israeli lobbying behemoth AIPAC, once snarked of Sanders, “I don’t have a problem with Bernie getting in the race – when is he getting out is probably a better question.” Dan Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel, is also on the committee, along with a host of other lobbyists and Clinton affiliates.
The Rules Committee boasts its own rogues’ gallery of centrist hardliners including, but not limited to, Podesta. Barney Frank, the former Massachusetts congressman whom Sanders slammed as an “aggressive attack surrogate” for Clinton when he headed the Rules Committee in 2016 is back as co-chair of the committee for 2020. Co-chairing is Maria Cardona, a healthcare industry lobbyist who penned an anti-Sanders editorial for Univision in 2016 and has repeatedly likened progressive reforms to “turning the US into Venezuela.” Vice-chair Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker endorsed Clinton in 2016 and serves as an adviser to former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 campaign. Former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who has written editorials opposing Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and the idea of taxing the rich, is also on the committee. A former Clinton campaign chief administrative officer, a World Bank executive, and a sprinkling of former 2016 superdelegates, Obama officials, and lobbyists virulently opposed to the policies favored by the party’s progressive wing round out the Rules Committee.