The Sandernista Rebellion Heats Up

May 26, 2016

As the Democratic presidential race winds down, the question may not be what Sen. Bernie Sanders wants that his party can give him. It may be what he wants that he knows he won’t get. The Vermonter seems less concerned with uniting the Democratic Party than transforming it.

With 930 delegates yet to be chosen, Hillary Clinton is a mere 78 away from a convention majority. Mr. Sanders must understand by now that he won’t be the nominee. But if his goal is to move the Democratic Party further left, it is logical to ask for concessions that the convention will likely refuse, such as extreme additions to the party platform. This would give his supporters an animating cause for years to come.

The Sandernistas are already in a fighting mood. On May 14 the Nevada Democratic state convention dissolved into chaos after some Sanders delegates were kept from being seated. This resulted in Mrs. Clinton’s taking seven of the 12 national delegates that were up for grabs. A near-riot ensued, with Mr. Sanders’s supporters trashing the hall and threatening party officials.

Last Saturday, Mr. Sanders upped the ante by endorsing the primary challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Other Democratic candidates who feel the Bern openly identify with the Vermonter’s challenge to the party establishment. Most are long-shots but their actions suggest growing discontent.

Team Bernie is playing hardball over the party’s platform, purportedly objecting to the appointment of former Rep. Barney Frank as chairman of the Resolutions Committee, calling him insufficiently liberal. Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings was selected instead.

The Sanders camp also demanded slots on the 15-person drafting committee that will come up with the party’s recommended platform. This committee is traditionally appointed by the DNC chair—in this case, Ms. Wasserman Schultz. At the direction of the Clinton camp, however, she allowed Mr. Sanders to name five panel members.

Team Clinton was offered six, while Ms. Wasserman Schultz retained four appointments for herself. Given that the chairwoman is a close Hillary ally, Team Clinton will control the drafting panel—but what an ideologically rambunctious bunch Mr. Sanders has picked.

First there’s Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, who last year explained his opposition to Donald Trump’s proposed temporary ban on Muslim visitors to the U.S. by saying “I don’t want my country to become a fascist state.”

Then there’s environmental extremist Bill McKibben, who once wrote that economic growth “may be the one big habit we finally must break” and recently said “it would be almost impossible” for Democratic policies on global warming “to go ‘far enough.’ ”

Prof. Cornel West, another Sanders appointee, once said that President Barack Obama “posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit” and mocked him as a “brown-faced Clinton” who has “a certain fear of free black men.”

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