Clinton Offers Concessions

Last week, in the aftermath of the ugliness in Nevada, I offered the Clinton campaign some unsolicited advice. The gist of it was that she’d be better off making some concessions to Sanders about representation on the power (Rules and Platform) committees at the convention than she would be in playing hardball with his delegates.

Sanders is also angered that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and former Congressman Barney Frank will be chairing the convention Platform Committee and Rules Committee, respectively, because they’ve both been loud critics of his campaign. That’s the cost of losing, but that doesn’t mean that some concessions can’t be made to give Sanders’s delegates fair representation at the convention.

It’s a small price to pay for tamping down what could emerge as a wildfire with the potential to disrupt the convention, and it has the advantage of being the right thing to do.

If Clinton doesn’t get the party united (and, of course Sanders has to do his part, too), her unfavorables will remain high and the polls will continue to look somewhat close as too many Democrats refuse to tell pollsters that they like or will support her.

If she offers an olive branch here, she will be the main beneficiary, and so will everyone who isn’t relishing a Trump presidency.

I’m not saying that the Clinton campaign was convinced by my argument, but they decided to do pretty much what I recommended.

Sanders was given the power to choose nearly as many members of the Democratic Party platform-writing body as Clinton, who is expected to clinch the nomination next month. That influence resulted from an agreement worked out this month between the two candidates and Democratic Party officials, according to Democratic officials familiar with the arrangement.

Clinton has picked six members of the 15-member committee that writes the platform, and Sanders has named five, the Democrats said Monday ahead of an expected announcement by the Democratic National Committee.

The math is based on the number of popular votes each has received to date, one official said. Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz will name four. The campaign choices were selected in consultation with the campaigns and the DNC from larger slates of 12 and 10 suggested by the campaigns.

Now, you may not be all that impressed with this concession. I don’t know. But Sanders immediately showed what a progressive slate looks like compared to a more mainstream slate.

Sanders’s slate includes James Zogby, a longtime activist on behalf of Palestinian rights as well as a DNC member and official. Zogby currently co-chairs the party’s resolutions committee. His inclusion is a sign of Sanders’s plans to push the party’s policy on Israel toward what he has called a more even-handed approach to the Palestinian cause…

…Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings was named by Wasserman Schultz. Most others named by Wasserman Schultz and Clinton are party stalwarts or Clinton supporters — the establishment Sanders has railed against to great effect. Sanders’s picks include people from outside the usual sphere of party influence, including a Native American activist and author and racial justice activist Cornel West…

…Sanders also named Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, among his most prominent elected backers, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker.

The Clinton campaign’s choices are Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official and Clinton surrogate; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and longtime Clinton confidante; Rep. Luis Guttierez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy; Ohio State Rep. Alicia Reece and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Clinton’s picks are hardly lacking in progressive voices. Luis Guttierez is perhaps the strongest advocate in the party for undocumented workers, for example. A lot of people, including myself, have heard enough from Cornel West, but I have no problem with him serving on the platform committee. Overall, Sanders used his picks to fill in gaps that might have existed if he hadn’t been able to negotiate a better deal.

This is basically what I’ve been hoping for, which is a broader inclusion of progressive voices in the party’s power structures, and that includes having people who are ideologically to my left.

I’m hoping that a lot of the rank-and-file Sanders delegates who show up in Philadelphia will make connections and get hooked into the power structure or even wind up being candidates in the future. Simply gaining such a big concession on the committees was a victory and a clear demonstration of power.

Truthfully, not much more can accomplished than this, and Sanders would be wise to pocket his gains here and begin thinking about next steps outside the nominating process.

I notice he’s still on the offense today, challenging Clinton to debate him in California. I have no beef with that, but I hope he’ll begin tamping down the divisions between his camp and Clinton’s now. The way I see it, that’s what he’s supposed to offer as his end of the deal.

In any case, I advised Sanders to stay in to get more delegates and more influence at the convention. He’s largely accomplished that now. He can still get some more delegates, but not much more influence, so I’m not sure what further aggression on his part can accomplish.

In other words, I’ve supported Sanders up to now, but I’m not going to be sympathetic to more divisiveness from this point forward. And, kudos to the Clinton campaign for thinking about the big picture.

Leave a Reply